7th Avenue between High Street / Branch Brook Park and Other Miscellaneous

by John Castner


My parents moved the family to Newark, from Pittston, Pa, in 1954 to look for jobs. We lived in a tenement house on Mt. Pleasant Avenue, until their application for the Columbus Homes was approved, where we lived for two or three years. They were bordered to the South by Schiffield Drive (which no longer exists) and to the North, by 7th Avenue. I have been attempting to recollect some of the details of 7th Avenue in the late 50ís, early 60ís (area between High Street and Branch Brook Park. A lot of this is no longer crystal clear to me, and I have tried to note things I am vague about. Any corrections, or additions would be welcome! 
There was a vegetable stand where my mother sent me with 5 cents one day to by a "mango" This is what we country folk from Pittston called a green pepper. It was one of my first experiences with culture shock (and the Italian language)in Newark! 
Pop's candy store (I remember it being very narrow and long). Mostly penny candy some, like the red disc shaped gummy candies, were 2 for a penny! They also sold pimple balls, caps for cap guns, jacks, marbles, wooden airplanes with red propellers, baseball cards, etc. 
Donís Luncheonette - This is where the 8th graders at St. Lucyís (Amity Place)went sometimes for lunch. They had a jukebox and (mostly) the girls would dance (to the twist)!  
Napiís luncheonette, where you could buy a hot dog and potato (French fries) sandwich for 30 or 35 cents. Or you could just get the potato sandwich for 20 or 25 cents. 
Marioís convenience store just off 7th Ave to the north, I canít remember what street (maybe Cutler Street) I think there was a deli near Marioís too where you could buy a bologna and cheese sandwich for 15 cents if you got tired of Napiís and Donís (which wasnít often!) 
Mayerís food fair was down on the Summer Avenue side of 7th Avenue. 
There was also a meat market on 7th Avenue, near Mt. Prospect (maybe Garside Street). I donít remember the name of it, but their top grade ground beef was around 39 cents a pound.  
There was a uniform store near the meat market where students of St. Lucyís Grammar School purchased uniforms. 
Aires bakery (not sure if Iím spelling that right) on the corner of 7th Avenue and MLK Blvd. (High Street) 
Sibels was around there too, where my aunt Charleen bought all her beautiful clothes. I think they were in business until fairly recently. 
Swartz Pharmacy near Royís Barber Shop and Aires. 
Gabrielís bar, just north off 7th avenue on one of the side streets. (I would go there with my father where he would buy a quart-sized cardboard container of draft beer) Gabrielís also sold pretty good pizza!! 
There was lumber yard just off 7th avenue too; I think on the same street as Gabriels. I used to like to stand out front and look at the different types of wood (and hear and smell it being cut). I didn't realize how impressive it was until I grew up and learned that what I was looking at were sheets of birch and planks of walnut, maple, cherry, mahogany and several variations of pine. What a difference today where there's nothing but particle board and pine as far as the eye can see.

Of course, there was that store where you could buy freshly killed chickens. (That may have been on Cutler Street, or close to it, just off 7th Avenue. I also remember that being written up on the internet several years ago.

There was a bank across from Amity Place where St. Lucy's is. I think that like other banks, it went through numerous name changes; may have been named Fidelity in the very early 60's.

And on the corner, in front of the bank, was the infamous 'Sweet Potato Man'. 5 cents each! I recall doing an internet search several years ago and finding some information on him, but I can't find it now. Some references came up for sweet potato vendors in the 1920's, but no one in the 60's.

I also remember a gumball machine outside, on the corner of 7th avenue and one of the streets. I assume it was bolted to the ground and belonged to the store on the corner.

Sometimes we topped off a Saturday night with a couple of hot dogs. There carts all over town, but our favorite was "Peaches'". He was at Branch Brook Park, and Bloomfield Avenue.

I also remember buying Italian Ice on 7th Avenue, but I can't remember where. We called it "Lemon Ice", regardless of the flavor we were ordering. I'd like a cherry lemon ice, please. Ting-a-ling's had great lemon ice and pretty good hot dogs. One of the newspapers did a survey a few years ago on the best hot dogs in New Jersey. Dickie Dees, on Bloomfield was number one! Hot Dog Johnny's, in on Route 46, near the Delaware Water Gap and Ruts Hut, which I believe is in Clifton, were also in the top ten.

This isn't a place, but I remember my parents receiving weekly orders of Victor's Soda. They had orange, grape, root beer, black cherry (and either vanilla or cherry cream) sarsaparilla, birch beer, ginger ale, lemon lime and cola. We received it in 12 quart cases. If they had any other kinds, my parents never ordered it.

Some other local places:

There was a pizza place called "Four Corners", because it was Sicilian style pizza. I don't remember where it was because my father would drive there to pick it up. It was the first fried pizza I remember eating.

Roy's Barber Shop, just off 7th Avenue on the same street as Aries Bakery. Haircuts for 25 cents and a free lollipop! The other guy who worked there was named Jimmy. I think there was someone else too, but I thought he was mean looking.

There was also a store on 7th Avenue that had a tube testing machine. The machine was about the size of a self-standing ATM machine and you could test your radio and television tubes. They also sold the tubes there, but for some reason I remember it being a pharmacy.

Melody records where Bloomfield and Park Avenue joined with Broadway. The Hi-Hat (a coffee/hamburger place) was across the street. There was also a newsstand there where they sold the Star-Ledger, Newark Evening News, Italian Tribune and the racing newspapers.

Visco's Sporting Goods on Bloomfield Avenue, around Stone Street.

Branch Brook Hobby Shop, where they sold Lionel Trains.

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