When I attended Monmouth Street School
in the Depression-era 1930s, none of the kids that attended school
with me at that time seemed likely candidates for future fame or
accomplishment. But two of them made it.
Louis Schleifer, who graduated from Monmouth Street School with
me in January 1935, eventually made a name for himself by being
the first Newarker killed on December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor.
We had lived in the same house. A Newark park is named after him.
Other Kid Who Made It Big
But another kid from Monmouth Street School who lived across the
block from me at 90 Spruce Street, and trailed me by three years
at Monmouth Street School also eventually made it big.
His name was Eddie and when I graduated from Monmouth, he entered
the sixth grade.
He was a member of an impoverished family that shared a two-bedroom
apartment with another family at 90 Spruce Street in an apartment
building, each family paying half of the $45 monthly rental.
The heads of the two families, brothers, had formerly been partners
in a failed business.
Eddie and his older brother, Harold, slept together on a fold-out
bed set up each night at bedtime in the apartment dining room.
His parents ran the hatcheck concession at the Krueger Auditorium1
on Belmont Avenue, off Springfield Avenue, and near the Krueger
Brewery. The 25¢ hatcheck fees were turned in to the Auditorium
owner, a relative. The family survived on a fixed $8-per-night payment
for operating the concession on those nights when there were weddings,
bar mitzvahs, dances, and the like, plus all the tips, which were
almost always in dimes.
Eddie and his older brother, Harold both worked the concession
along with their father and mother.
Then, into the wee hours of the morning, after returning to their
Spruce Street apartment, they would sit up and count and roll the
dimes in bank papers. A working night's take for the four was usually
Eddie graduated from Monmouth Street School in January 1938, three
years after me, and went on to South Side High School, graduating
there in 1941.
After his graduation, Eddie managed to squeeze two years in at
City College of New York before being drafted into the Army in World
War II. All together, he had lived ten years of his youth in Newark.
How He Achieved His Fame
After his discharge from wartime duty, Eddie got into NYU Law
School in 1946 on an accelerated program and passed the bar on his
second try in 1949.
During his struggling years as a young New York City lawyer, Eddie
got involved in New York City politics.
The rest is history.
Eddie, or Edward I. Koch, through his political activities, ultimately
became a New York City Councilman...then served five terms in Congress
from 1969 to 1977...and later three terms as Mayor of the City of
New York, from 1977 to 1989.
Although years out of Gracie Mansion, the kid from Monmouth Street
School in Newark's old Third Ward continues to star in the news
as a legal expert, book author, political consultant, radio commentator,
He never married, although for a time in his mayoral years, he
was rumored to have a close friendship with a former Miss America,