In an era of rising medical and pharmaceutical
costs, and the mass assembly-line medical care via apathetic and
huge HMO's and assorted health care providers, it is comforting
to recall the fine medical care given by the practitioners of same
to the large Newark population, both the young and the old. It was
a time of house calls and caring bedside manners, given by physicians
, nurses, dentists and pharmacists, who were trusted and considered
an important part of any family's continued well-being. In the Newark
of yesteryear, it was a certainty that a worried caller would almost
never be placed on hold, and medical response would usually come
fairly quickly, following a telephone called placed for such reason.
It is to those medical practitioners that I dedicate the following
memory. Naturally, my recall only reflects those individuals who
served my neighborhood and environs, and whose fine medical attention
brought our family through many a health crisis. I am certain that
the readers of this memory will bring to mind some of the fine doctors
and nurses who faithfully and reliably served their families as
well, within the confines of their recollections and neighborhoods.
The pediatric medical practice of Dr. Charles Rosenberg was located
for many years at 11 Murray Street. Dr. Rosenberg devoted many long
and dedicated years to the health care of literally thousands of
Newark's youngest citizens. His office was located in a non-descript,
small two story red brick building. Murray Street was a rather small
side street, directly perpendicular to Broad Street, not far from
the Mosque Theatre. I recall there being a church which sat directly
on the corner of Broad Street and Murray, the name or denomination
now unknown to me. I believe the church was a rather old facility,
having been built of a type of red sandstone, common to the grave
markers found in the early days of Colonial times. I believe the
church was of a Gothic architecture, as well, and even in the late
1940's, the church appeared quite ancient.
I do not know if Dr. Rosenberg inhabited the upper floor of his
practice, but judging from the small size of his building, it might
have been possible. Upon entering Dr. Rosenberg's office, on the
first floor, there was a small vestibule, to the left of which was
a larger sized waiting room. I recall the waiting room was paneled
in a very rich, soft, warm and inviting wood paneling. Circling
the room were many Windsor chairs, whose wood seemed to match almost
identically to the paneling on the wall. The room was framed by
a cozy and welcoming fireplace, which, on cold winter days, was
a definite comfort, especially when bringing an ill child in for
examination. On the mantel, juxtaposed on opposite ends, stood two
ebony-like elephant sculptures, with trunks raised, as if to trumpet
and announce the next patient entering the practice. And above all,
one heard the wails of children fearful of entering the good doctor's
office. Coupled with the sounds of crying infants, there was always
quite a "symphony" going on in the waiting room at any
given time or hour of the day.
For many years, Dr. Rosenberg's faithful nurse was a lovely woman
by the name of "Ruthie." Sparkling blue eyes, and curly
brown hair which framed her attractive face, is my memory of her,
but above all, I remember her business-like, no-nonsense manner
in hustling reluctant children into the doctor's examination room.
In those many years ago, it was almost a standard practice for
children to have chest X-rays for routine examinations. In Dr. Rosenberg's
office was an X-ray darkroom, where the children would be taken
into in order to have their X-rays. Naturally, it is usually customary
for small children to fear the dark, and Dr. Rosenberg would always
remain with them, within the darkroom, to allay their fears and
dry their tears. It was this selfless act which brought about Dr.
Rosenberg's death from cancer (leukemia), from his years of repeated
exposures to radiation within the X-ray darkroom.
Following Dr. Rosenberg's passing, his practice was taken over
by a then quite young physician, by the name of Dr. Nathan Zuckerberg.
Dr. Zuckerberg came to Newark a graduate of the medical college
of Lausanne ,Switzerland, and ultimately moved the practice to 21
Johnson Avenue, at the intersection of Clinton Avenue, near where
Peterman's Restaurant stood on the corner. The faithful "Ruthie"
continued to practice alongside Dr. Zuckerberg for many more years,
and the last visit to Dr. Zuckerberg was my physical examination
for entrance into college in early 1962. I do recall that at that
time, Dr. Zuckerberg had relocated somewhere near Elizabeth Avenue,
opposite Weequahic Park, but do not know how much longer he continued
to practice after that time. Ironically, while reading the newspaper
last year or so, I learned of a horrific Amtrak train accident which
had taken place in the springtime, the collision of two trains which
were en route to Florida. The accident was devastating, with the
loss of many lives, and severe injuries sustained by multitudes
of passengers. Listed among the survivors was the name of Dr. Nathan
Zuckerberg and his traveling companion, the good doctor having attained
the age of 89. I was relieved to see that he was one of the fortunate
people to make it out alive, although injured, and I said a prayer
for his speedy recovery.
Dr. Seymour Charles was another of the stellar pediatricians working
perpetually for the well-being and health care of Newark's children.
As late as the latter part of the 1980's, I noted that Dr. Charles
was still engaged in caring for children at the Beth Israel Hospital
on Lyons Avenue, still devoting his time and talents to new generations
of Newark's young.
Closer to where my residence was, on Belmont Avenue, the neighborhood
and its environs were at one time a mecca for the best in health
care. On the next block above Belmont Avenue, was Hillside Avenue,
where the practices and residences of some of Newark's finest physicians
were located in the 1930's and 1940's, and perhaps even before that
One of the obstetricians-gynecologists living there was the very
doctor who brought me into this world: Dr. David Gershenfeld. It
was through the miracle of this web site that I was able to communicate
with his son, Marvin, who today is a very young 80 year old gentleman!
According to my late mother, Dr. Gershenfeld was an extremely compassionate
doctor, with a wonderful bedside manner. She always enjoyed telling
me the story of how I kept Dr. Gershenfeld and his family from enjoying
their July 4th holiday, as I kept everyone waiting until I finally
made my appearance on July 7th of that year! So, even at this late
date, after sixty years, I apologize to Marvin for "holding
up the works," and delaying his family's holiday celebration!!!
Other physicians who resided in the Hillside Avenue locale were
Drs. Lurie, Maas, and our family dentist, Dr. Kaplan, among many
others unknown to me now.
Two doors down from our apartment building, was the residence
and medical practice of Dr. Harry Brotman. I recall mother rushing
me there for many a skinned knee or laceration caused by a robust
game of tag or an exuberant bicycle ride, which resulted in what
looked like a more severe injury, than it actually was. Even today,
I can see the remnants of a small scar, which Dr. Brotman treated
in the time of my early childhood, which occurred at some point
during playtime then. What convenience it was having a physician
right next door!!!
At a young age, mother suffered from a heart condition. Her cardiologist
at the time was the well - renowned Dr. Victor Parsonnet, whose
entire family were/are dedicated practitioners of cardiology. His
office was located around the corner from our residence on Belmont
Avenue, on Madison Avenue, intersecting Clinton, and the tiny, triangular
park, which was located there also. Much later, in the 1960's, I
believe, St. Barnabas Hospital, (which also was located in Newark,
and later relocated to Livingston), named the entire Cardiology
Unit the Dr. Victor Parsonnet wing, in honor of this fine physician.
It was said that at one time, our very apartment on the first
floor of 321 Belmont Avenue, was the former office of a physician
who practiced there in the mid 1920's, when the building was quite
new, and considered very elegant for its time. In the time of my
childhood, I still recall the empty shingle which hung directly
under our living room window, and always wondered about who that
doctor might have been. The layout of our apartment was quite unique,
and certainly supported the possibility of a doctor's office there
prior to becoming living quarters for tenancy. What was so odd,
was that we did not have but two tiny closets within the entire
four room apartment, one of them being smack-dab in the overly large
living room, which was said to have once been a waiting room for
patients. Within the rear of that very small closet, was an opaque
window, and one could see the outline on the floor, of what appeared
to have been plumbing fixtures. It was said that this had been a
lavatory in the time of the doctor practicing there. Set off from
a long foyer at the entrance to the apartment, were two bedrooms,
an overly large one, and yet another one, both with doors which
contained oddly enough, opaque glass in the middle of both of them,
quite strange for a "residential" apartment. Finally,
connecting both these bedrooms, was another bathroom, which was
our family bathroom, and which contained yet the other small closet.
It was said that this closet once held the doctor's first aid supplies,
among other medical objects. Also rumored was that the larger bedroom
had been the doctor's examination room, and that the back bedroom,
at the very end of the apartment, was the one time laboratory and
office, where the doctor did his analyses of blood work and urine.
It was a time when most doctors did their own lab testing, and did
not send the specimens out to other locations, as is the common
practice in our modern times.
Further down on Clinton Avenue, corner Stratford Place was the
very elegant and luxurious apartment building, 299 Clinton Avenue.
It was a very large building, complete with circular driveway, doormen,
and crystal chandeliered lobby with elevators. 299 Clinton Avenue
was the location of many of the offices of medical practitioners,
who provided the best in care available to Newarkers of that era.
I recall a consultation with a dermatologist there, whose name now
eludes me at this present date and time.
Traveling further down Clinton Avenue, to the Lincoln Park area,
directly closer to the intersection of Broad Street, stood the Medical
Towers. This was a very tall, yellow brick building, devoted entirely
to the practice of medicine. Here, one could find physicians of
almost any specialty. It was the custom of general practitioners
to recommend patients there for specialized treatment of ailments
which might have been beyond their expertise.
Directly opposite Lincoln Park, were a series of beautiful, old
brownstone homes. The brownstones were the former domains of wealthier
Newark residents of a "gentler age" (mid to late 19th
century), and were considered to be "mansions" in their
time of first construction. These elegant homes were located side-by-side,
and housed the medical practices of a husband and wife physician
team, the Drs. Saslow, who specialized in the care of Diabetes.
A few doors away, were the practices of Dr. Shmukler, also a specialist
in the care of diabetics, and Dr. Irving Shapiro, a dermatologist,
whose very musically gifted children, attended Avon Avenue School,
at the time I did.
Around the time of the late 1940's to early 1950's, one of the
first African-American physicians arrived to practice within the
Belmont/Avon Avenue vicinity. He was Dr. P. E. Gear, (Phillip E.),
and his office was located in a small row house, down from 93 Avon
Avenue, the photograph of which appears on the page of my Third
Ward Memories. A babysitter of mine, lived in the row house directly
next door to Dr. Gear, and these row houses were located just above
Ridgewood Avenue. As African-American families began to arrive within
the neighborhood, Dr. Gear did a very thriving business in his medical
care provided to that community. An earlier African-American physician
was located on the lower end of Belmont Avenue, closer to 350 Belmont
Avenue, which was another large apartment house directly on the
corner of Belmont and Madison Avenues. Dr. Bell lived about three
doors up from this apartment house. However, this was only the residence
of Dr. Bell, and I do not know where his medical practice was situated.
He may have even been retired at the time I am recalling. I do recall
his beautiful one family home, with its gorgeous elliptical leaded
(stained) glass window, which was directly next to the entry way
to his home. Dr. Bell also had a daughter and a cute little grandson,
who resided with him, since he may have been a widower at the time.
I recall seeing Ms. Bell and her son seated on the spacious porch
of this very elegant home, many times in passing.
In the Upper Clinton Hill area, in the vicinity of Tracy and Baldwin
Avenues, were the medical practices of many of the parents of my
former classmates at Avon Avenue School. To name some of them, there
were Dr. Harold Solomon, Dr. Lieb, and on Baldwin Avenue, another
family physician , Dr. Samuel Balis, whose eldest son, Robert, was
the "older man" of 17, in my rendezvous at the Roosevelt
Theatre , mentioned in my Tribute to Newark's Movie Houses in yet
another Old Newark memory I wrote earlier this month of November,
Situated immediately next door to Dr. Balis, was the practice
and residence of Dr. Flax, another general practitioner, whose son,
Roger, attended Newark Academy, and later became a celebrated tennis
pro and instructor.
Dr. Aaron Haskin served as the Chief of the Newark Health Department,
for many years, previous to and during the 1950's. He also functioned
as the Director of the Newark Martland Medical Center, formerly
known as City Hospital. His residence and practice was located in
a large one family home at 22 Goldsmith Avenue, near Elizabeth Avenue
and Weequahic Park. It was a beautiful tree-lined street, with a
wide grass strip median, which divided the street and gave it a
beautiful appearance. Goldsmith Avenue was the site of homes for
many other medical professionals, who diligently served the City
of Newark and its populace so tirelessly for so many years.
Newark also contained a plethora of very fine medical facilities.
A patient had his choice of care, depending on his physician's hospital
affiliation at the time. Several hospitals there were as follows:
Beth Israel Hospital, on Lyons Avenue in the Weequahic Section of
Newark. The "saints" hospitals: St. James, St. Barnabas
and St. Michael's Hospitals. Many of the expertly trained nursing
staff were the good Catholic sisters and religious, coming from
the diverse convents, which were located within the city, and perhaps
just outside of it. There was also the Presbyterian Hospital, (since
renamed as Columbia), which, as I recall it, catered in many instances
to children, but also to adults. Charitable cases were treated at
City Hospital, which later was renamed Martland Medical Center,
in honor of the late Dr. Martland, who served Newark for so many
years, and was a pioneer in Newark's medical history. Today, the
hospital is now a teaching facility, which is part of the New Jersey
College of Medicine and Dentistry, still located on the lower end
of Bergen Street, within the city. Several of the hospitals have
left the city, for example, St. Barnabas is now located in Livingston,
New Jersey, and has been there for many years. It is famous for
its burn center, in particular, and its cardiac care unit also.
Several other smaller scale facilities operated within the city.
Health care clinics for the indigent or low salaried workers, abounded
in Newark under the auspices of the Department of Health. The Eye
and Ear Hospital, located on Central Avenue, going toward East Orange,
was one such facility. A much smaller hospital was the Doctor's
Hospital, a small, private care hospital, which was located on Avon
Avenue, near the Hillside Avenue intersection. This hospital had
been in operation since the early 1920's, and both my late mother
and aunt had given birth there to their first children, in the late
1920's, or thereabouts.
Regardless of what area or sector of the city one lived, one was
sure to find superior medical care. The medical care Newarkers received
was comparable to those of the finest facilities in any of the larger
major cities at the time.
To those persons, both past and present, alive or not, who are
or were involved in the excellent and dedicated health care of so
many individuals in our beloved city, I doff my hat to you, and
extend my hand in deepest gratitude. A hearty thank you to you all!
May you continue to thrive and make important and new medical strides
in the continuing advancement and quest for good health for all
citizens, in both Newark, and elsewhere in our realm, in the good
name of all humanity!! May God bless you, one and all!!