I don't know if I qualify to join this
group. I grew up in South Orange, two blocks from the City Line,
but I have many fond memories of Newark. Our Church was Sacred Heart
in Vailsburg, we walked to the Stanley Movie Theater and would stop
at Dubrows for black & white ice cream sodas or Silvermans for
their delicious jelly donuts. Each Saturday, we would go to the
barbers on Sandford Ave so my brothers could get their $1 haircut.
Now I am really showing my age.
When we were kids and our parents were out, our babysitter would
tell us they went to the Hoffman Bottle to get us soda. That seemed
to quiet us down. I really felt sad when I read it was coming down.
Weekly trips to my grandparents and cousins meant stopping a Ferrara's
for pastries and driving through Branch Brook Park in the Spring.
The best, of course, was making that left turn off of Bloomfield
Avenue onto Highland Avenue and getting to stop at Branch Brook
Toy Store. Of course, we never picked up bread. They only bread
they would eat was Calandra's. Our family parties were at Biasi's.
The funeral masses were at the Cathedral. We would all be in awe
of its beauty. I still am when driving up 280 especially at night.
When we went to the Dentist that meant lunch at Hahnes or Bams to
see the train display at Christmas.
For years, I've listened to my Dad's stories about growing up
in Newark. He is 95 years old but still remembers his friends from
14th Avenue. If you are ever in his company, he will tell you about
his father and how proud he is. My grandfather started an Abruzzese
Club in Newark in 1907. They would collect dues to help members
out of work and retained the services of a Doctor for those who
were ill. They were so ahead of their time.
One of his best stories is when his two brothers returned from
World War 1. They moved from an Italian neighborhood to an Irish
one. On my Dad's first day of school, the teacher renamed him from
Rafaela to Ralph. My youngest brother, who is named after my Dad,
would have preferred Raphaela!