Growing Up In Newark

by Fred Russell


Somewhere around 1942 we moved into my Grandmothers house at 109 Ferguson St, Newark. I was about 3 years old. Around 1943 we moved to 9 Brenner St. We lived there till 1958. This essay will be about my growing up while I lived at 9 Brenner St.

One of the first things I can remember was when World War Two ended. My mom and I were eating in a confectionary shop called The Boston on the corner of Springfield Ave and South 10th St. The radio was playing. All of the sudden the announcer came on the radio and said that the war was over. Everyone start yelling for joy. The crowd spilled out onto Springfield Ave celebrating the end of the war.

From the time I was six to twelve years old I went to Waverly Ave School. We walked past Woodland Cemetery on Rose St every day to and from school. On the way home we used to climb the fence around the cemetery and cut through it to get home faster. A man named Mr. Fisher used to chase us if he saw us in the cemetery.

The Bond Bread Company was near Waverly Ave School. Occasionally we would buy day old bread, on the way home. The smell of baking bread was fantastic.

On Saturday my Great Grandmother would take me downtown to the theatre, Newark Paramount or RKO Proctors to see a movie and live show. I would also go to the Ritz Theatre on Springfield Ave with my friends. For twenty-five cents you got to see two movies, 3-5 cartoons, and a serial film.

When I became a boy scout the troop would get passes to Laurel Gardens on Springfield Ave. On Friday night they would have live professional wrestling. We used to sit in the bleachers and get all excited cheering and booing. This same event was being televised on Channel 13.

To earn a few bucks I would take my red wagon to the A&P on Springfield Ave and ask people coming out of the supermarket with bags of groceries if they wanted help getting their groceries home. For twenty-five or fifty cents I would pull their groceries home and carry them up to their apartment. There were a lot of boys there with wagons looking to make some money.

On Sunday I would go to St Ann's Church on 6th St. for mass.

In those days you did not need a car. You could walk, or ride the 25 Springfield Bus from down town Newark to The Olympic Park in Maplewood.

After I graduated from Waverly Ave School I went to Cleveland Jr. High School for grades 7, 8 and 9th on Bergen St in Newark.

After school we would spend our time sitting on the porch steps listening to Alan Freed on the radio and conversing. There was always at least five or six of us on the steps every evening.

After I graduated from Cleveland Jr High School I went to South Side High School. During my senior year in South Side I worked in an Acme Super market near Lincoln Park by the Robert Treat Hotel.

At this time in my life my friends and I would go to Jimmy Buffs on 14th Ave for Italian Hot Dogs sandwiches. They were great, sandwich and a cola.

When the first one in our group got his drivers license, and the use of a car, we would cruise the streets looking to pick up girls, which usually did not happen. The evening would end with us parked in front of Jimmy Buffs around 10pm having a sandwich and a cola before going home to bed.

In 1958 I graduated from South Side High School and went to work for Bell Labs in Murray Hill NJ.

That's a snapshot of my years growing up in Newark.


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