Essex Catholic High School (early version)

by Danny Buckley


Sad news - I just heard at my brother's 50th birthday party on Saturday that Essex Catholic High School is closing down. Even though it's been in East Orange for the last 20 years and has changed its name even more recently - it is the grand old building at 300 Broadway that I will always remember. Even though some may remember it as Mutual Benefit's building, it became Essex Catholic High School the year my family moved from 45 Broad Street to 420 Summer Ave. (the moving van had to pass it on the way)

Growing up just 3 blocks away, I was a gym rat in the sub-basement basketball courts of the school by my 10th birthday. Later that year I broke my front teeth on the wrought-iron fence that surrounded the school on the Summer Ave side when playing a game of garbage can basketball with hockey rules (checking allowed). Although my oldest brothers went to Barringer (there are nine boys in all), the last 6 of us graduated from ECHS.

I have so many fond memories - Friday night dances once a month in the ballroom on the 3rd floor - no school had a place with such acoustics. A theater that was bigger than several I've been to on Broadway - oh, wait this one was on Broadway (lol). Running 56 laps on the 11 laps to a mile banked board track outside the school when I was in 6th grade - after a 2 hour practice with the St. Michael's grammer school basketball team that Father Conheeney coached.

A great sports program - my senior year we were ranked top 5 in NJ in baseball, basketball, and of course, track. Meeting up with some wonderful teachers & coaches - Br. Germaine, Br. Conway, Mr. Sasso and friends - Jimmy Casey, Ray Rossi, Mike DelVecchio.

I'll miss the old school just like I miss Newark. Jule, if you take a walk around the block for me and pass the old place - know that it was a great institute of learning for a lot of lower-middle class kids like me. When they left Newark for East Orange, it was only a matter of time.


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