Ask anyone who grew up along Bloomfield
Avenue in the 1950s if they ever had a Ting-a-Ling lemon ice and
watch their face glaze over as they remember the experience. They
might even lick their lips to revitalize that summer taste of long
ago. It certainly wasn’t anything like that sugary sweet artificial
“glop” they spoon out today. This stuff was made in
The establishment was right there guarding the entrance to Branch
Brook Park, anchoring the stairs to the downtown subway entrance.
It was spoken with the same reverence as Dickey Dee’s, Jimmy
Buff’s, Dugan’s pastries, and Barringer High School.
Singing groups practiced a cappella harmonies outside the front
door, while showing angelic smiles to frequently passing police
cruisers. It was a delicate balance of youth, bravado, and gustatory
delight—one I engaged in with regularity and delight.
My dad said the place got its name from the patriarch of the family,
an Italian immigrant, like all of our grandparents, who peddled
lemon ice from a wagon, with a little bell that went “ting-a-ling”
to alert customers of his presence. From this the place grew to
a store front and then a building that later offered pizza, sub
sandwiches, hot dogs, ice cream floats, and of course the prized
summer elixir, lemon ice. Later they even added a car wash.
There against the rhythmical “klickety-klack” of the
City Subway cars, and bright neon signs, huge amounts of calories
fueled the hungry bellies of many a faithful North Ward teenager,
whether after a dance, a Barringer-Central football game, or after
a spirited evening game of Box-Ball, Gorilla or Red Rover. If you
wanted to be seen, you went to Ting-a-Ling’s.
I only lived a few blocks from it all, a quick walk to the subway
and the other delights Newark offered back then. It was a nice place
to grow up, with ethnic tastes and smells, warm memories, and the
lingering taste of lemon ice under eternally green maple trees.
How I would like to go back just one more time and hear my Dad whistle
for me to come home for dinner. I could hear that whistle all the
way into Branch Brook Park.