I grew up in Newark near South 10th Street,
and in 1941 married a girl who had attended and graduated from Central
High School the same year that I did.
During World War II, I served in the Seabees (Construction Battalion)
and after the War I lived inside the Weequahic Park racetrack for
It doesn't sound believable at this time, but I was able to live
inside of Weequahic Park because of the atom bomb.
Apparently, in anticipation of heavy casualties in the last stages
of the Pacific war, the Government built hospital barracks buildings
in four locations inside of Weequahic Park, in anticipation of using
them to accommodate those that would be evacuated from an impending
invasion of Japan.
The with the atom bomb canceling the invasion, the buildings stood
empty at the end of the War. They were rented out to veterans with
Each barracks building had six four-room apartments, each with
kitchen, dining room, and two bedrooms. The apartment came with
a kerosene stove. Electricity was included as was front-door garbage
pickup by horse-drawn garbage wagons from the Newark Department
I paid $37.50 a month rent. The rent was payable to The State
of New Jersey. They had a maintenance office inside the Park where
I paid my rent.
All told, there were 578 apartments for veterans with families
in four locations within Weequahic Park, each location named after
the site of a World War II battle.
The barracks buildings inside the racetrack were I lived were
located in Anzio Square. The other three locations inside the Park
were Corregidor Square, Oran Square, and Bastogne Square.
I lived inside the Weequahic Park racetrack from 1949 to 1954.
for recreation, we traveled outside the park to Sabins and Millmans
for hot dogs, or occasionally to the Tavern Restaurant Pastry Shop
for one of their great coconut cream pies. We all went nuts for
Looking back, the accommodations may not have been that great,
but for a young married family like ours, it was like living in
your own private home and we loved it.
* * *
* (As told to Nat Bodian)
Please direct any inquiries to Nat