I was born in St. Michael's Hospital in
1947. The first home I remember was in Weequahic Park. I seem to
remember the grandstand still standing from when the trotters had
run there and we kids pedaling our bikes around the track.
We then moved to the Archbishop Walsh apartments in 1953. That
fall, I started first grade at Our Lady Of Good Counsel and was
followed in succeeding years by my two sisters and a brother. Although
I didn't realize it at the time, Archbishop Walsh was actually a
project built as low income housing. Not many of the project families
sent their kids to Catholic school so I ended up with two sets of
friends, home and school. It was great! The projects were located
on McCarter Hwy, right across from the Passaic River.
I remember walking up Grafton Ave. across Broadway to Summer Ave.
and then along Summer to Heller to get to school. Along the way
I'd pass Glatzel(?) Bakery, Elliott Street Public School, and the
Summer Street branch of the public library. As I got older, lunch
would be at Bernie's and haircuts at the Italian barber next door,
all the while trying to sneak peeks in the National Geographic.
I fondly remember the Elwood Theatre which was the site of my first
date in the summer of 1963 with a young woman by the name of Fran
Baldi. Two years later I attended Good Counsel's Senior Prom with
her older sister,Sue.
In 1961 I achieved a dream when I was accepted into Essex Catholic
High School. It was truly exciting as my basketball idol and mentor,
Hugh Mahoney, was an upper classman there. For high school, I would
hike up Grafton Ave. and catch a bus on Broadway. Seems to me there
were two separate bus lines that ran along Broadway. One was an
independent and cost a nickel instead of 15 cents. They didn't run
as often so I was more likely to save money coming rather than going
Another of my favorite haunts during this time was the Boys Club
on Broadway between my home and school. I played ping pong, shot
pool,and swam there. Best of all, I played basketball there. During
the winters of 61-62 and 62-63, I played in league games two nights
a week and refereed peewee games Saturday mornings followed by lunch
at the White Castle and shooting hoops in the afternoon. It was
heaven on earth and the Boys Club was a home away from home.
At Essex, I ran cross country and wrestled and thoroughly enjoyed
my two years there. Sadly,my dad died in June 1963. This, along
with the fact that Newark in general and the projects in particular
were changing for the worse prompted my mom to move the family to
Philadelphia later that year. I must admit that I was blissfully
unaware of impending troubles and quite upset with her decision.
In retrospect,it must have been the right move as my sisters and
brother still reside there and I met my wife of 37 years there,
although we've lived in Florida the last 24 years.
Newark seems like another life to me. But almost all the memories
are fond ones and I'm very glad to have stumbled across this web
site. Incidentally,what originally put me in the nostalgic mood
for Newark was a wonderful book which I just read and recommend
highly: "The Plot Against America" by Philip Roth,a fellow