I graduated from St. Rose of Lima parochial
school on Orange St. with the class of 1942. My former school was
Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament in East Orange. At the time
if had seemed to be a drastic move, but it actually ended where
St. Rose's parish began. It was a revelation to me.
There were two movie theaters nearby, the Tivoli, just across
from St. Rose of Lima school, and the Plaza, a smaller theater on
North Seventh St. near Orange St. On North Seventh St. on the second
floor an office building was probable the most impressive pool room
I have ever seen. There were a number of pool tables, two snooker
tables and at least two billiard tables. On the walls were pictures
of some of the most notable pool and billiard players in the game
who had played there. There were pictures of Ralph Greenleaf, Willie
Hoppe and Willie Mosconi. The place itself was impeccably well kept
by the Wheaton brothers. Tom, a waiter was always dressed in a white
smock jacket. He would serve the customers tall, icy glasses of
orange soda. Loud or boisterous behavior was not allowed, nor, if
the Wheatons saw it, was gambling. It happened, of course, but it
was done discreetly.
On the floor above the pool room were women who worked as switchboard
operators in an unusual service. Many of the local taverns had,
instead of juke boxes, boxes that were called Automatic Hostesses.
The number of selections was quite extensive. For the coin one would
put in the box, an operator's voice would greet the customer asking
what they wished to hear. As I said, the choices were far greater
than one would have been able to hear on an ordinary juke box.
There was a most popular ice cream parlor on Orange St. near Roseville
Ave. called Gruning's. This was a popular gathering place by night
or by day. Their home made ice cream and candy was the top quality
to be found anywhere. They did a lunch time business because of
the nearby banks and offices. As we got older we idled many hours
over coffee, or sometimes lunch. They made particularly good hamburgers.
But Bodholt's diner on the north side of Orange St. near Roseville
was where we used to go for lunch. They were open all night and
after the taverns closed, eating there could become an adventure.
It was the place for many a free -for- all brawl.
There were a number of taverns within easy walking distance. On
Roseville Ave. were such places as The Wonder Bar, The Annex, The
Clipper Ship, and Bebs, which later became Pere's. Most, except
for The Annex, also served very good food.
Speaking of food, there was an elegant Chinese restaurant called
Moy Bing's. It was on the second floor. The stairs were carpeted
and the tables were linen covered. The waiters wore black jackets
and white shirts with bow ties. One didn't notice customers in line
to pick up orders. It was a relaxing dining experience.
But what I most fondly remember are the friendships I made which
are intact to this day.