Marijuana found growing in residential areas of Newark in the 1940's

by Charles McGrath


Back in the 1940's many people had racing or homing pigeons. On my street alone three people had pigeons not counting myself. When these birds were raced they were placed in crates and driven 50 to 100 miles and then released to fly home. There was money bet on who would be the first to return to the coop. Not unlike a horserace.

While most of us back then never saw them race; however, seeing them fly was a common site. Remember them flying overhead in huge circular paths. This was done daily to exercise them.

The homing ability of a pigeon is still not understood; however, he still finds his way home. Because of this homing ability they have been used to carry messages for eons. In 1943 my mother worked Down Neck for Celanese to make celluloid capsules. These capsules were attached to the leg of the pigeon in warfare. They would carry combat information from the field back to the military headquarters. Today with cell phones that is incomprehensible.

The pigeons like Newark have changed over the past 60 years. Pigeons are Rock Doves and many came from the White Cliffs of Dover. They were a bird with feet suitable only for walking on rocks or flat surfaces. That's why they adapted so readily to living on buildings. Their feet did not evolve for them to perch in trees or on wires. But guess what they changed, now you see them in trees and on overhead wires.

Their diet was a little strange by most standards it consisted of 25% safflower, 25% corn, 20% raw peanuts, 15% wheat and 15% hemp. That last ingredient was what made it strange. This hemp seed along with the corn and safflower would spill onto the ground around the pigeon coops. As you would expect in the summer some of these seeds that fell into the dirt would germinate. My father as a policeman said that was a concern of law enforcement.

So one might say what's the big deal? Guess what? Hemp seed germinates into the marijuana plants.


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