The Beginning of The Ironbound Transportation
Company had its roots With another company, The Clinton Ave line
in Newark. The picture above shows two of the drivers of that line,
John McMurdo Sr. on the left, posing with Harry Yeager. The buses
were believed to be a 1924 A. B. Mack, driven by John McMurdo and
a Pierce-Arrow driven by Harry and owned by Pop Moore.
When I saw this picture, I began to ask questions about my grandfather
and his career as a bus driver in Newark. My father, John McMurdo
Jr., was also a driver for the Ironbound Transportation Company
from 1931 to 1950, starting at 21 years old and believed to be the
youngest driver in the state. He began by stating that he could
remember, just as if it were yesterday, how it all evolved and would
be glad to talk about the Company that employed him for close to
20 years, as well as employing my grandfather until his passing
On May 7th 2004, my father and I drove those routes as he began
naming the streets one after the other before we got to them. He
had not been back to those streets for over 40 years. Other than
the one way streets, not much had changed, some landmarks still
there, others Gone.
Based on his recollections in April/May 2004, at the ripe old
age of 93, with a mind as clear as if he were still in his 30's
or 40's; I will attempt to put his Thoughts together and provide
a history of the Ironbound Transportation Company.
RECOLLECTIONS -MAY 8, 2004
Circa 1924, there was a bus line that provided transportation
for the workers and families living "Down Neck" Newark.
The name was the Center Market-Lafayette line. The owner of that
line was a man named Griffin, who was also known as (a.k.a.) "Apple
pie" due to his love of "Apples". It is believed
that there were approximately 10 to 12 buses and drivers associated
with the line. That number remained until the sale of the Company
around 1931 or 1932.
It was around that time that three gentlemen made an offer to
Mr. Griffin to buy the Company and its routes. The deal was completed
and the new owners Mr. Gould, Mr. Moore (Pop) and Mr. Van Kuren
became the new owners of the Company. The three gentlemen had all
driven and owned buses on the Clinton Ave line. When the three made
the transition to the new company, they made offers to other drivers
to come with them and start driving for the new line. The only driver
to accept that offer and take a chance on the new venture was John
McMurdo Sr. who drove for Mr. Gould on the Clinton Ave Line for
15 years. As stated in the prelude, he drove for the new company
until his passing in 1948.
It also stood to reason that with new owners, a new name would
be in order and thus gave birth to the new company; The Ironbound
Transportation Company. (I.T.C.). The garage was located at 2 Margaretta
St down at the lower end of Niagara St. and is still there; the
building is now used as the site for a scrap/salvage company. The
function of the three owners was the running of the line and keeping
track of the daily operations mostly receipts and expenses; they
did not drive. It was around that time that they decided to hire
a full time dispatcher whose name was Walter Weferling, his main
function was the route scheduling and driver assignments; it is
believed he stayed with the Company until the sale in 1950.
Harold Gould, the son of one of the owners, became the head mechanic
and responsible for all operations in the garage during the prime
day shift. The same responsibility for the night operation went
to the Brother of one of the owners, Pat Gould. The buses that were
used were Mack's and whites, which held approximately 20 passengers.
During the War years, the only Company that could Manufacturer buses
was the Ford Co. and during that time, 4-6 buses were purchased.
After the war, additional buses were purchased from an independent
Company in Pennsylvania; the buses were larger and held 35-40 passengers.
There were approximately 20 drivers, on average over those years,
employed by the I. T. C.; that is in consideration of both full
time as well as part time, days and nights. They had the use of
about 12-15 buses that were in constant use over the seven days.
Besides my Grandfather and Father names, others such as: Ed Bambrick,
Al Ryan, Frank Lord, Charlie Grom, George Flynn, Frank lamb, Eli
Kurtz, Pat Farmer, Herman Stockinger (drove the midnight run), Bob
Hayes come to mind. Most of these drivers stayed to the end and
had seniority over my Father; whose first 14 years of driving was
the night shift.
I remember asking my father why he was never in service. He told
me that he, and the other drivers, were classified 4-A by the draft
board because their job was vital to the country's defense; namely,
transporting workers to the industrial plants in the Ironbound section
The most amazing fact was the fare. I asked my father, "how
much was the fare when you started in 1931"? He replied $.05.
"That's great," I said; now, "how much was the fare
when the Company was sold in 1950"? He replied again $.05.
Thinking he was confused, I asked the question again; same answer.
He replied, "we did not have a fare increase in all the 19
years that I drove for the line"
One story concerning the fares had to do with Ruppert Stadium,
home of the Newark Bears. It seems that Public service had a bus
route down Wilson Ave that stopped in front of the Stadium. The
problem was that the fare was $.10. After the games however, the
crowds would walk the one block over to the Margaretta St. garage
to take advantage of the cheaper prices, basically stating two trips
for the price of one.
The fare was the good news. Now, the bad news for the drivers;
I asked, " how much did you make driving when you started"?
He replied $.45 per hour. "O.K." I said, "how much
did you make when the company was sold"? he replied $.45 per
hour; that was 19 years later. I asked, " How did you make
more money"? Simple reply, "more hours"; in other
words, overtime. In general, I asked "what was the average
take for one bus during an 8 hour shift"? He responded "about
$20.00." A great day would be $30.00". He also recalled
"the gas at that time was pumped from tanks in the garage so
gas pricing was economical since it was not purchased at local stations.
I was very curious as to the make up of the passengers and very
simply stated, after a discussion, he felt there were two basic
categories, social and workers. It seems that, because of the route
structure that interwove through the neighborhoods of the "Ironbound
section", people would be able to have access to the "downtown
area of Newark". There, as many of us know, were the major
stores for shopping, such as Bamberger's, Kresge, Haynes, Michaels
-Dept store, etc. The ability to be able to relax was just as easy;
who can forget the Movie and theater houses; R. K. O. Procters,
Paramount, Lowes, The Branford, The Adams (hosting early Vaudeville),
Rialto, The Mosque, little, Capitol and the Lyric. The treat was
being able to stop at Nedick's on the corner of Broad & Market
for a Nedick's orange drink and a hot dog. The other facet of the
line was the ability to transport workers to all the industrial
plants in the Ironbound section, whether they were from within the
Ironbound, or from other sections of Newark with the main pickup
point being Broad St & Raymond Blvd.
As we began to discuss these routes, my father began to mentally
run through the routes as if he was going to work that day. There
were two main routes; namely, Chapel St, and Avenue L. The following
are those routes:
This route took about an hour in each direction.
Commencing at Broad and Raymond Blvd, down Raymond Blvd towards
Penn Station. Under Penn Station making an immediate right on to
Continuing to Lafayette St., make a left onto Lafayette going past
St James church and Hospital and proceed to Tyler St. (Later changed
to Pulaski St., heart of the Polish section), turn right and proceed
a few blocks to New York Ave.
Turn left on New York Ave. and continue to Gotthart St., make a
left and continue to Wilson Ave.
At Wilson Ave make a right turn and proceed the one block to Rome
St. At Rome St., turn left and proceed to St Charles St and then
turn left and proceed to Ferry St.
At Ferry St make a right continuing past "The Ballantine Brewery"
to Schalk St., make a left and go 1 block to Fleming Avenue. At
Fleming Avenue make a right and go 1 block and turn left onto Chapel
Continue on Chapel St, crossing over the lower part of Raymond Blvd.
to the "ISLAND". Bear right onto Lister St and continue
to Ester, make a right and go one block to Albert then make left
for one block to Lockwood where the line ended in front of a Tavern
used by the drivers as a rest area. When the line continued, the
bus would make a left onto Lockwood and go one block to Lister at
which time the route would work in reverse.
On the "ISLAND" were: The Farmers Market (on Joseph and
Albert St-almost the entire block) as well as companies such as:
Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore(still there), American Hair Felt,
Fisk, Stanley Tool.
There also was only one bus for that line that ran from Midnight
to 8:00 A.M in the morning, mostly to accommodate the shift workers.
Thus route took approximately a half hour in each direction.
Commencing at Broad and Raymond Blvd., following the same basic
initial route of the Chapel St. line, the lines changed when the
bus arrived at Pulaski St., instead of turning right, the bus continued
to the end of Lafayette St. to Wilson Ave.
At that point, turn left on to Hensler St (Home of Hensler Brewery)
and proceed a few blocks to Niagara St.
Make a right onto Niagara St. (past St Benedict's church and school-My
Alma Mater) and continue past the garage at 2 Margaretta St to Avenue
L and finish in front of Hayes Tavern.
Note: Bob Hayes, one of the drivers, drove until he took a job in
the shipyards during World War II until 1947. At that time, he and
his wife Elly took over the family owned business run by his mother
Emma who retired and moved to Keansburg. Together as proprietor's
of "Hayes Tavern", Bob and his wife Eleanor ran the Tavern
until June 1958 when Eleanor and Emma sold the establishment after
Bob's passing; the property was sold to John Engelhorn & son.
This was a great spot for the drivers, and passengers as well, because
of the lunch and diner menu.
Extended Route to the Avenue L---Doremus Avenue.
The routes were also known by the drivers as "Trippers"
These were special considerations to those who worked in that
remote section. One route was only run once, it picked up 5 workers
at the end of the Avenue L run and proceeded over the bridge to
the Passaic Valley Pumping Station where it dropped off those workers
and picked up 5 workers to transport back over the bridge and then
continue the normal route.
This route ran the entire length of Doremus Ave to the end where
the many of the workers were picked up and dropped off culminating
at the Western Electric Company.
Most of the drivers did not prefer to drive this route, the less
senior drivers would usually get this run.
The shift began at rush hour around 7:30 A.M and continued to about
9:30 A.M. The drivers would then go home or hang out until about
4:00 P.M where they continued to drive until the rush hour was over
around 6:30 P.M. One Company along the route was especially unique.
The Company, Reilly Tar, manufactured Mustard gas during world war
ll, as you would expect, injuries were commonplace to the point
an ambulance was on-site at all times.
Uptown extension-Both Lines
Two years before the sale of the Company, around 1948; both lines
were extended to provide passengers with a greater ability to have
access to the Downtown area. When returning to the Penn Station
area from Railroad Ave. (now one way from Lafayette St) the buses
would make a left onto Market St.
Continue up Market St, crossing Broad St to Washington St and
make a right at that corner where Bambergers was located.
Continue on Washington St, passing the Prudentials two main Buildings,
the Washington St. Bldg and the Gibraltar Bldg. To Raymond Blvd.;
make a right and cross Broad St to the original starting point.
On Market St., just under Penn station, was a Newsstand frequented
by many of the drivers. I myself remember my Father spending more
than ample time there and not returning with a paper. I found out
many years later that this was a major focal point for what is now
known today as "off track betting".
Circa 1950, for whatever reason, the three original owners had
decided it was time to sell the Company. Possibly mounting pressure
from the competition, The Public service Company that also had routes
in the Ironbound, may have led to that decision. The deal was completed
and thus came the end of a forgotten line that affected so many
lives for those two decades; The Ironbound Transportation Company.
Some of the newer buses were used by P. S. and believed to be part
of the Elizabeth Line. As for the drivers, most were not absorbed
that left them to pursue other jobs. As my grandfather passed away
in 1948, he did not have to cope with problems concerning the sale.
One of the drivers offered a new position with P.S. Transportation
was my father. He made the transfer and lasted approximately 3 months;
the problem, it was a non-driving position. After driving all of
those years, he could not make the adjustment.
As for the facility, which is still there on Margaretta St., little
is known as to the occupants. It is believed that there were some
companies that used the space up until 1980, most notably a soldering
Co. In 1981. The entire block was sold at a tax auction by John
Marzano. The building, being part of that auction was purchased
by Anhydrides Corp and is shared by multiple companies for the Manufacturer
of chemical type components. When the building was purchased, it
had been abandoned for some time and a massive clean-up effort was
undertaken to allow the new owners to set up the facility.