Who's Got Memories of Newark?

by L. Price


Do I have memories? What Newarker of old doesn't? I and my four siblings were all born in Newark, back in the thirties and forties when we were Negroes LOL.

My memories are fond ones. We lived on Columbia St. near Green St. just behind Mulberry St. Our neighborhood was one of diversity. Irish, Italians, Portuguese, and Chinese. What stands out most notably in my mind is that race was never an issue. I don't ever remember feeling different from anyone else I grew up with and as a result I grew up with no racial hang-ups.

I often tell my kids what the old Newark was like. Until the riots in the 60's, it was a peaceful city made up of various ethnic groups. Everyone knew their neighbors and their neighbors knew them. Not only did we know our neighbors but we looked out for them and theirs and vice a versa.

Who dares ask to borrow a cup of sugar or some potatoes nowadays. Pride would prevent making such a request. But in the Newark of my day even the A&P kept a running tab for the credit worthy. We were the working poor, yet dignified and honest.

Walking 10 blocks twice a day to Lafayette St. School never seemed to be a burden. It was something you just took for granted. Who knew then that this would serve to mold your character for life's greater challenges.

I remember: Mulberry St. and it's many outdoor markets and fruit stands. Elfenbein's, where you were served by Butcher's who knew their trade. Downtown with it's variety of department stores, Bambergers, Orbachs, Haynes, & Two Guys. Then there were the five and dimes like Woolworth's and McCrorys. Every Newarker remembers Nedicks on Broad and Market, those were the days when you didn't have to take out a loan to buy a hot-dog.

Remember all the movie theaters? The Paramount, The Branford, The Rialto, The Globe, The Ritz, The Lyric, The Loews and some I've probably forgotten. You could take half the neighborhood for what we pay for a single ticket today. Remember the serials that would have you coming back week after week to see how it would end? Sometimes you would spend the better part of a day in the movies because back then the only reason you were asked to leave was due to causing a disturbance of some sort. Yes, those were the days.

We kids got the biggest kick out of walking 12 or more blocks down to the old Essex House Hotel across from Lincoln Park. There we could catch a glimpse of the elite as they arrived in their limos for some posh affair. It was so exciting!

Just as exciting was our frequent trips up Springfield Ave. to Prince St. It was a world unto itself. You could meander in and out of anything from a Bakery to a chicken slaughterhouse. The accents of the Jewish shop keepers are still like a pleasant melody echoing in my head. If you looked longingly at a piece of fruit, it didn't take long before the stand owner would say "here have one!"

Who's got Newark memories? Everyone whose ever lived and grown up here. And for the most part they are the memories that made us who and what we are today. Thanks for the memories Newark!

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