Although my memories are basically about
Roseville, my origins were down on West Market Street just above
High Street and the Essex County Hall of Records and our local movie,
the Court theater.
My dad, Charles J. Rotondo, operated a funeral Home at 32 West
Market Street. Our family attended church at St. Philip Neri on
Court House Place which ran just across from the famous bronze statue
of Abraham Lincoln seated in front of the Essex County Court House.
However, for schooling, I attended St. Mary's Catholic school over
on High street and ,eventually St. Benedict's Prep.
Just below the school was Branford Place where every Saturday morning
we would march down to the Adams theater to see and hear the great
big bands like Vaughnh Monroe, Louie Prima, Charlie Spivak, Xavier
Cugat, Ted Lewis and Johnny Long among countless others. We also
were kept entertained by movies like the Proctors, the Capital,
Branford, Loews and the Paramount.
On Sunday afternoon, we would take the bus along Broad Street to
the Dreamland Skating rink and end the day at Joe's on Branford
Place devouring huge banana splits.
In 1945, dad moved the family and the new funeral home up to 279
Roseville Ave. I chuckled at Sue Carols memory that she lived in
the old Oxley funeral home because we were directly across the street
next to the Baptist Home for the Aged and the big, gray stone Presbyterian
church on the corner of Park Avenue. Down Park Avenue was our nearby
shopping area to Nick's candy store, Gianella's Meat Market, the
drugstore on the corner of No. 7th St. and the car wash at No. 5th
Street just across from the Promenade Cocktail Lounge and the Newark
But Orange Street and Roseville Avenue was where I spent most of
my time. I lunched either at the food concession in the drugstore
on the corner run by my dear friend Guy Centanni and his wife Helen
or up the street to Bodholt's Diner just across the street from
St. Rose of Lima church. I remember ,so vividly , the monument to
the late Fr. Washington in front of the church. He was one of the
Navy Chaplains who went down with his ship after giving his life
jacket to one of the sailors during World War II. It was vandalized
so badly that it was moved up to the Seton Hall University campus.
Down Orange Street was the so convenient Tivoli movie and next
to that was the Barney Livery Service which supplied the hearse,
limousines and flower cars for our funeral home.
Of course I remember John P. Teevan's Clipper Ship next to the
Armory, where we held the party for my 1951 graduation from Newark
After graduation, I joined the National Guard at the Armory and
became a member of the 102nd Mechanized Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron
of the 50th Armored Division. However, due to administrative foul
ups, I was drafted during the Korean War. Fortunately, I eventually
wound up at the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and was stationed at
Ft. Myer, Virginia for the duration.
But Roseville had deteriorated badly. The familiar stores were
either all gone or shuttered and the streets were unsafe at any
hour of the day. I can recall so vividly, on warm summer nights,
walking from Park Avenue to the White Castle on 7th Avenue or over
to Grunnings on Orange Street for one of my favorite banana splits.
I still miss all the congenial people I ran into while shopping
and while visiting Mrs. Chessner's Bakery for her wonderful breads
and where she frequently roasted our turkey for Thanksgiving day.
Roseville Avenue was also the route of the famous Bamberger's
Thanksgiving Day parade that came right past our front door. Friends
would gather on our little balcony while mom set out candy, cakes,
sweet drinks and coffee while everyone waved to the clowns and especially
Santa Claus at the end. It was a serene neighborhood with beautiful
landscaped lawns of the many Doctor's and funeral homes.
We even had the luxury of a night policeman walking his beat.
It was also the route of the many police cars that raced past
our front door with shotguns poking out from their windows on their
way over to the riots on Springfield Avenue. Thank God they never
reached the Roseville Section.
Because of the failing Orange Street environment, I traveled north
on Roseville Avenue to Bloomfield Avenue and attended St. Francis
Xavier church, eventually joining their choir (which lasted 17 years).
In this section of Roseville there was a new neighborhood and life
style. Among the many restaurants were Biase's, Vesuvius, Aulise's,
Pizzzeria's as well as the wonderful bakeries like Calandras', Ferrara's
and Di Paola's.
And of course, the Columbus Day parade where ofttimes the Mayor
as well as dignitaries reigned as Grand Marshal.
But all that is gone and, unfortunately, this section of Roseville
is also going by the wayside of memory.
Thanks to Glenn G. Geisheimer for reminding us never to forget
and for providing a website for our memories.