Recalling Monmouth Street School, it was
the neighborhood school I attended from the mid 1920s to the mid-1930s.
It was built in the post Civil War era, and while perhaps state-of-the-art
when first built, it was vastly outdated during the years I attended
The various floors were reached via two stairwells -- an UP stairway
to the left, and a DOWN stairway to the right. The wooden steps
creaked when you stepped on them.
I recall there were eight classrooms on each floor. On the top
floor four of them were in a square divided by walls of hinged doors
empanelled with blackboards that folded back against the wall.
For auditorium, the four walls of the four rooms would be folded
back against the wall and the fixed-in-place classroom seats would
become the auditorium seats.
As there were four other classes on the same floor, we sat two-in-a-seat
so that the four classes that would normally occupy four rooms took
up only two rooms. In this way, the other four classes on the floor
doubled up in the two empty rooms.
I recall that the school had no library, no gym, no manual training
shop, or no room for domestic science. For manual training shop,
we trudged to Charlton Street School about 6 or 7 blocks away.
I recall only about three memorable happenings during my years
as a student at Monmouth Street School.
One was assembling in the 'Auditorium' weekly during certain periods
for the "Music Appreciation Hour" being broadcast over
NBC radio by Walter Damrosch, conductor of the NBC Symphony Orchestra.
He would open each Music Appreciation radio session with "Good
morning, my dear children," in his richly-sounding slightly
Another 'Auditorium' happening rich in my memory was a visit and
performance by a tribe of Hopi Indians from a village in Arizona,
performing in native costume. For all of us, these were the first
live Indians any of us had ever seen.
The third happening was joining the Knothole Gang at the school.
As a Knothole Gang member, on certain days of the baseball season,
we would be bussed from the front of Monmouth Street School to the
Newark Bears (Ruppert) Stadium on Wilson Avenue to watch the Newark
Bears baseball games. For me it was the first and only times I ever
witnessed any professional baseball games, even though in later
life I worked as a sports writer and sports editor.
I have one other fond memory of Monmouth Street School. It was
the first time in my life that I was ever made to feel important.
It happened when I strapped my metal patrol boys badge on my right
arm and stood duty at the corner of Monmouth and Montgomery Streets
as a police patrol boy.
I recall that all the kids at Monmouth with me were well behaved
and that there were no bad incidents up until the time of my graduation
1935. I wonder how many kids that went through the Newark School
System in the later years, and especially in the second half of
the 20th century can look back at only good memories of their school.