Growning Up in Newark

by John P. Rotondo


I was born and raised in the old third ward of Newark. We lived first on what was 201 Bank Street and at the age of five, we moved across to West Market Street where my father operated the Charles J. Rotondo Funeral Home.

My neighbors and friends on these three blocks above High Street were the Doctors O'Lini on my right and the dentist Dr. Lessen on my right. Across the street was the cardiologist Dr. Antonius next to the pharmacy of Mr. Papas. Further down the block was the travel agency of Donato Colavita who handled all the neighborhood business for the Italians in the area and arranged my honeymoon trip to Europe after my marriage to Jewel Mazziotti of 569 Summer Avenue and our marriage ceremony at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church.

I attended St. Mary's Parochial school on High and William Street next to the Benedictine Abbey and later moved further down the block to St. Benedict's Preparatory where I graduated in 1947 together with three of my best friends, Larry Wyman of 31 Stirling Street. Charles Fagan and Francis X. Kloss who were also from St.Mary's, Class of 1943.

I lost track of them after I attended The Newark Colleges of Rutgers University graduating in 1951 with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. At the end of the Summer I joined the National Guard at the 102nd Mechanized Reconnaissance Squadron on Roseville Avenue and spent three years attending the summer encampment up at Pine Camp, New York now Camp Drum. Because I went inactive one summer to attend Summer school at Seton Hall University, I was drafted in 1951, had my physical in downtown Newark spent three days at Camp Kilmer getting shots and general indoctrination before shipping down to Fort Dix for Basic training.

This was during the Korean War but they called it a conflict then. After Basic Training, four of my buddies and I were selected for advanced assignments since we were the only recruits who had a College education. One went to Ft. Jay, Governors Island in New York, another went to Ft. Benjamin Harrison, Indiana, for advanced Administrative training and three of us went to Washington, D.C. While two of my friends were assigned to Staff Communications, I was lucky to get an assignment to the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G - 3, at the Pentagon.

During my service there, Major John Eisenhower was sent back from Korea and passed through our office when his father, General Dwight D. Eisenhower took over over the Presidency from Harry Truman whom I saw many times driving around Washington. When President Truman was renovating the White House he was living across the street at Blair House where Puerto Rican assailants attempted to assassinate him. My barracks was in Fort Myer across from the Arlington National Cemetery and I was privileged to witness the funeral services for Br. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright, the hero of Corregidor during the second World war in the Pacific.

After my discharge in 1953, I attended the McAllister School of Mortuary Science and then joined my family's business. After my internship, I attended the night classes at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, N.J. and graduated in 1962 with a Masters Degree in Psychology but still remained with the family in the funeral service at 279 Roseville Avenue.

There's much more but that will have to wait for another time. Thanks for listening.


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