by Charles Carroll


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.


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