Springfield Avenue was a turnpike (Newark
/Morris Turnpike?) that ran from High Street to Morris Avenue in
Union. Like most turnpikes it had tollgates. With tollgates came
semaphores, which are raised after the person pays the toll. Another
word for the semaphore is pike. A pike is a long spear. Toll collectors
in the Middle Ages used these pikes and they turned upward to allow
the traveler to proceed after the toll was paid. That is how we
got the name Turnpike. The pike was turned upward and downward.
This turnpike also had highway men in circa 1870. They seemed
to operate near the present Newark / Irvington line. Were they masked
men like Zorro or the Lone Ranger? I'm not sure. But they were outlaws
since they operated outside the law. Did Billy the Kid ever come
to Newark? Well he was born in New York City and in all probability
he had to at least pass through Newark to go to New Mexico.
In 1970 a friend gave me a six-week-old raccoon that was abandoned
by its mother. A raccoon as we all know is a wild animal. It is
not domesticated like a dog or a cat. We recently heard about a
tiger in Las Vegas that almost killed its owner. It was a wild adult
animal. One that is primarily ruled by instinct rather than love
and affection. Well what about the raccoon?
The raccoon was very young and what happens is that it accepted
us as its parents. We enjoyed this relationship for just about one
year. Then guess what? Puberty! That is even a problem with wild
animals. He no longer wanted or needed us as parents. The raccoon
didn't know whether to bite us or lick us.
The above picture is that of my two daughters holding him as a
one year old. You can see the black mask on his face. Because of
this mask we called him "Billy the Kid". Shortly after
this picture we set him free in the forest of New Jersey.
For a period of one year Newark had its own Billy the Kid, not
just one passing through on his way to New Mexico.