The Gangs of Newark

by Rich Silvertsen


Anyone remember the "gangs" in Newark back in the 50's?

I lived in the Walsh Projects on Grafton Ave in North Newark. Hung out at Elliot St. School playground and at Jennie's (I think that was the name of the soda shop) across the street on Summer Ave. A lot of us "project kids" belonged to a "Gang" called the Snake Eyes. The back of our jackets had a snake wrapped around a pair of dice with Snake Eyes written across the back. People would call us the pregnant worms because the snake looked more like..a pregnant worm.

The more I think about it, it did. I remember other gangs like the Panthers, the Pythons and we even had another group, friends of the "snake eyes", called the Mafia. Their jackets had black hands on the back. Newark Police had orders to confiscate their jackets when ever they saw a member on the street wearing one. My wife used to hang at a store on Park Ave. and 7th St. called Nicks and was even involved with a group of girls called the "Knockouts". Another female "gang", also at the same location, was the "Pink Panthers". They were the tough ones.

Let's see, there was also the Kings, the Toro's, the Ramblers, the list goes on. These were some of the gangs or should I say Social Clubs from the old first Ward North Newark area. How about from the West Side, South Side, Weequahic, down neck area, Anyone remember?


Joan Niven:
From the West Side...I remember the Romans, the Hi Hats and the War Lords...There were alot more but don't remember the names.

I don't think these were gangs..I believe these were "clubs" My father belonged to a club in Newark back in the Thirties called the "Pontiac" They were from 14th Ave.....

We had "gangs" in my neighborhood in the Clinton Hill section that were more like athletic clubs. There was the Cheyennes (my gang), The Kingsmen, The Pontiacs, The Sarcacens and The Saxons to name just a few I can remember off-hand.

Many of us, like you, became law enforcement officers.


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