Hollywood in Newark

by Charles McGrath

This evening I was trying to recall some interesting people that I knew in Newark as a boy. There was one name that kept coming up and that was Henry Kohlbacher who lived at 49 Mead Street. Mr. Kohlbacher was around ten years older than my father. So I guess his birth date to be around 1892.

Henry Kohlbacher had a metal garage in his backyard. Why metal who knows? Maybe some early home improvement guy was pushing them in the early 1930's. I noticed that there were many metal garages in Vailsburg especially on Cliff Street.

I was talking to someone the other day about closed doors that have never been open. Doors can not only keep people out but they can keep things in. This was the case with the metal garage with the one big metal hinged door. It wasn't used for a car. Henry's car and old 1920 something Studerbaker that was always parked in the driveway. It was like a time capsule it never moved all during the 1940's when I knew him.

Henry was a very quiet dignified man and he was the father of four children. Three girls and a son named Robert. Robert and I were good friends. But we never went into the metal garage. That was off limits.

We can thank Thomas for the Black Maria. But more of New Jersey was involved involved in movies than just West Orange. Long before Hollywood the Palisades was also the early home of the motion picture industry. Perhaps the Depression was the reason for it to move to Hollywood. I don't know. I'm only guessing.

One day Robert and I entered the old metal garage in his backyard. The reason for our entry has been lost in the passing of time. The single metal door was covered with a lot of rust and we had trouble opening it. As a young boy I didn't fully understand what was the other side of the door. There was all sorts of motors, lights, projectors, reels and reels of film and other things that I didn't recognize. He went on to explain to me that his father was in the motion picture industry and it folded. He kept everything that was related to it in the metal garage. I remember just like yesterday looking at the people on that old film.

What happen to all that priceless stuff? Who knows?

But I found out that the old metal garage contained a little bit of Hollywood in Newark.


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