St. Mary's Grammar School

by Jean Mohren Dunlap


I was born in Newark in 1943 at the American Legion Hospital on Broadway (we were a large family of 9 kids). We lived on Sterling St, between So. Orange Ave and the Essex County Hall of Records.

We walked everywhere. I can remember Geiger's newspaper store on the corner of Sterling and High St. There was also a White Castle. Does anyone remember "Frank the cop" (Frank Cohen) who watched over us crossing Springfield Ave to go to St. Mary's (High and William St). St. Benedict's Prep was there, as well as Arts High School. We were taught by the Benedictine nuns, and the Benedictine Monks ran St. Benedict's. I remember the Holy Name Day parades along Broad St. in Newark. At one time there was one of my family in almost every grade at St. Mary's.

Our street was our playground. I can remember the Dugan bread deliveries, and the old ice wagon delivering ice for my grandmother who lived on the second floor in our house and had an icebox. While roller skating we used to hang on the back of the ice wagon so it would pull us up the hill! I used to get scraps of material to make doll clothes from the bridal shops on Springfield Ave. It was a nickel to take the 31 bus to Boylan St. Pool (that was suburbia to us kids from the Central Ward!). Many times we walked it so we could buy a lemon ice at the stand by the pool. We walked to the Newark Public Library, one of the best libraries anywhere.

Woolworth's was a favorite stop because they had flat sided hot dog rolls that were buttered and grilled. I worked at St. Mary's bingo in my teens on Friday nights and then going to Jimmy Buff's for a sausage dog and a coke. I have been back in the last 5 years and am happy to see the way that area of the Central Ward has come back.

When my brothers and sisters get together we still talk about growing up in Newark. It was a great life back then. I went to high school at St. James in the Ironbound, worked at the Prudential on Broad St. for over 20 years, worked part time at Bamberger's during the Christmas holidays. I live in North Carolina now but New Jersey and Newark is never far from my mind.


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