Going to a North Newark College for $5 a Credit

by Nat Bodian


I'd been working nights and weekends for the Star-Ledger on sports coverage while still attending Central High School. As I was about to graduate in January 1939, another Star-Ledger sports writer -- Frank Judge -- who'd been my mentor and friend, told me about a college he'd been attending mornings in North Newark that was reasonable and had good instructors.

The school was Essex Junior College, operated in the spacious rooms of an old mansion at 327 Mount Prospect Avenue. I investigated and enrolled for three courses.

I took psychology, business law, and business English -- all courses which proved subsequently useful to me in my work as a journalist and later as a public relations professional.

The psychology course was taught by the school's founder and head, Dr. Adolph Meyer Koch.

The quality of the instructions was excellent and easily on a par with what I experienced at the schools I attended after World War II under the GI Bill -- The New School for Social Research and City College, both in New York City.

I recall that most of my classmates were sincere, dedicated, and like myself, anxious to advance their knowledge while working at various jobs.

I was living on Montgomery Street in Newark's old Third Ward, across the City from the school, and I went to Essex Junior College on a racing bicycle that I had purchased from one of the Bay View Wheelman bikeriders at Weequahic Park for $15.

Like all racing bikes, it had no brakes and was controllable by braking with a leather-gloved hand. The bike got me to and from school each day that I attended and saved the necessity of taking two busses each way.

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