When Glenn Geisheimer, Webmaster, posted
the 400th Old Newark memory on October 9, 2003, 73 of them were
mine. I had, in effect, been a partner with Glenn in helping the
growth of the website since its inception in May 1998.
What we -- the many contributors to the Old Newark website --
had tried to do was to re-create Newark life as it once was, drawing
mainly from our own life experiences and other Newark happenings
during our lifetime that we found meaningful.
Recently, I was made aware of an accomplishment of the Old Newark
website that neither Glenn nor I had earlier anticipated.
Old Newark as US History Project
The Old Newark website had served as a classroom project in US
History, as well ... not in Newark ... net even in New Jersey ...
but in San Diego, California.
It seems that an accomplished teacher of United States History
(Dina Naiman) for high school juniors at Patrick Henry High School
in San Diego was familiar with the Old Newark website from past
visits to my entries on that site.
In the spring of 2003, when she was giving out US History assignments
that her 16 & 17 year old students could do outside the classroom
for extra credit, she included, as one option, the list of my Old
She told her students who selected an Old Newark website option
that they could examine all the entries and turn in a handwritten
report on any one "Memory" that they found of personal
interest from among the then more than 50 Old Newark memories that
I had posted.
She told her class that any student who chose one of my Newark
memories was to handwrite a report that reflected their opinions,
observations, and reactions to the Memory, and to turn it in as
a letter addressed to the Memory's author.
Four Chose Newark Topics
Many of her students chose easier assignments, but four selected
and reported on entries from the Old Newark website for their extra-credit
The US History teacher kept those four letters from her students
on the Old Newark memories, written in May 2003. In the first week
of 2004, after she had retired, she mailed them to me as promised
Which of my 50+ memories intrigued these 16 & 17 year old
US History students?
Here are the four topics that they chose:
Montgomery Street (old Third Ward) in the 1920s
Burlesque at the Empire Theatre
Looking Back at Newark During Prohibition Era
Third Ward's Most Newsworthy Event: A Crime-Boss Funeral
Selected Excerpts from Student Letters
"I enjoyed the way you described your surroundings from a
child's point of view...I learned that things were a lot cheaper,
people seemed a little more united in your neighborhood...also that
in the 1920s schools contained black and white students but the
neighborhoods didn't. Your recollection helped me to connect with
my own life because it reminded me of the hardships I was once surrounded
by as a child."
Page 2 -- Dominece Taylor
Burlesque at the Empire Theatre
"I learned a lot of different things about the first half
of the 20th century...I found the way you described the women interesting.
They seemed beautiful and desirable even though they were "shapely"
and not the skinny, boney, and fake girls that are popular today...The
mother's excitement caught me off guard. I guess back in (that)
day I thought people would be more ashamed of their daughters if
they were that kind of dancer in that kind of show...It seems that
going to the Burlesque is as degrading as the women go to a strip
"Thank you for writing all of your memories down. I would
of talked to my grandmother (Born 1899 Died 2001) about all of her
memories. Without memories there's no history..."
Letter -- Angela Pastor
Newark During Prohibition
"I chose this one because it was mentioned in a chapter in
my history book...In this essay, I learned that the government passed
the 18th amendment, an era called "Prohibition" which
made the selling of alcohol a violation of federal law. People believed
alcoholism was one of the main reasons that led to domestic abuse
and was also a sin. The government tried to solve the problem but
instead they caused a major problem in Newark and made Newark the
bootleg capital of the United States...What interested me most was
how the government didn't work hard enough to enforce the laws and
the incorporation of the police who got money from the bootleggers...The
law was made to help people solve problems but it didn't and instead
it caused more trouble and problem. The government didn't realize
it until thirteen years later when they repealed the law.
Newark Crime-Boss Funeral (Zwillman)
"I chose "Crime Boss Funeral" because I like stories
about mobsters and gangsters ... I found this essay full of a lot
of interesting things, for example he committed suicide the day
before his own funeral ... Was his funeral planned already because
not a lot of people can plan a funeral in one day. I also found
it interesting that the coffin was bronze. Was that of some significance
or was that his favorite metal? ... This essay added to my understanding
that gangsters can kill and turn around and give food to the needy
and baskets on Jewish holidays. I always thought mobsters were ruthless
let alone giving food out and stuff like that."
Page 2 -- Steven Regalado