West Side High School Playground

by Jule Spohn


Growing up in the 1940's and 1950's I lived right across the street (12th Street and South Orange Avenue) from the playground at West Side High School. After all these years I can still picture in my mind Mr. DiBiasi and Mrs. Richmond who were in charge of it. They were always there for the kids from the neighborhood.

On the lower level by the 12th Street side entrance they had swings, jungle bars, seesaw's, and hopscotch markings on the ground. On the upper level they had a quarter mile track, softball fields, basketball courts, and handball courts. After school, you could always go into the office and see either Mr. DiBiasi or Mrs. Richardson and "check out" table tennis paddles and tables, softball equipment, basketballs, and any number of games - chess, checkers, monopoly, etc. During the summer months you could get to make any of a number or "arts and crafts" items such as belts, wallets, bead necklaces, etc.

After playing we could walk around the corner to the candy stores, or during the summer months, we could hear the "ring-a-ling" of the Good Humor man's bell as he came along peddling his bicycle/Good Humor cart.

During the summer months the playground lights went out at 9 PM and I could stay out till 10 PM but I had to be on my front stoop. If I was not there my father would open the window and holler "J U L E" and you could hear him for several blocks around.

It is sad to say that this part of Newark is now like a war zone and the once wonderful playground is no longer. The fence is still there but the swings, jungle bars, and see saw's and gone and the blacktop is cracked and grass weeds now cover the area. What a shame. However I still have wonderful memories of growing up in that neighborhood and spending much of my childhood in that playground.


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