I grew up in Newark, lived in the first
ward (Cutler St) till about age 7, then at the corner of 2nd St
& Sussex Ave until about 1959 when we moved to Alexander St
(right across from the school.)
My maternal Grandfather, Grandmother, Mother and an Aunt are all
buried in a family plot in Holy Sepulcher Cemetery, near the South
Orange Avenue and Parkway side, practically in the shadow of the
Hoffman bottle. As a child I accompanied my Grandmother and Mother
to the cemetery to visit my Grandfathers grave on a regular basis.
My mother was just a child when he passed away. I remember when
my Grandfather was “disinterred” and reburied to make
way for the Garden State Parkway. I was about 12 at the time and
can remember not only how upset my grandmother was but also that
the Parkway was supposed to be a free road as soon as the tolls
had paid for it. 50 years later and apparently the bill hasn’t
been paid yet.
For the longest time there was a family business near the cemetery
entrance that sold flowers, wreaths, etc to the visitors. The last
time I was there the family business was no longer operating, the
neighborhood had become completely unsafe, but the bottle was still
there sort of standing watch over everything. Of course the bottle,
like the neighborhood around it is much the worse for wear and tear.
Now that there are plans to “revitalize” this part of
Newark it seems such a shame to lose this landmark. Shouldn’t
it be here to see this part of the city’s renewal? I have
not been able to visit the graves of my loved ones in many years,
but who knows what kind of upturn this area could be taking. Maybe
one day soon the cemetery and the bottle will once again be part
of a thriving neighborhood. Wouldn’t that be wonderful.