Nina Newark I was not

by Anna Falco Roma


I just found this site and wanted to begin by responding/contributing to the memories of Father Divine and other memories. 
One of Father Divine's Missions was located on Halleck St in North Newark which I believe was also called the Woodside section because it was below Mt Prospect Ave. The back of the Mission house abutted Grafton Ave where I lived. I can remember anxiously awaiting the summer so I could watch all the cars arrive for the big summer BBQ fling at the Mission. I remember Father Divine arriving attired in all white. His angels wore white dresses all the time. Watching the women wave fans or branches over him was so intriguing to a small child. The smell of chicken barbecuing, corn on the grill, collard greens and every other southern food took my breath away.  
One particular summer I walked into the yard so I could be a part of the festivities. I figured no one would notice one more person. How silly, after all I was the only white face in the crowd (grin). When my mom looked out our third story window to call me home she was in shock to see me across the street sitting with the other kids eating. No one outside the mission angels and their guests ever went on the Father Divine property. 
My best friends lived next door to the mission on the Halleck St side. I remember very friendly women smiling at us as we played (very loudly) in my friend's yard. The angels never complained about the noise.  
In retrospect I realize that my continual desire to attend a southern family reunion must be a result of these fond memories (grin). 
Now memories of the Feast of Saint Gerard. My mother always told stories of Al Capone driving through the streets in a big car and tossing money out the window to the kids. The older Italian women walking bare footed the path of the Saint. Even children had to dress appropriately in order to enter the church. That meant dresses for the girls/women and of course something covering our heads. The boys/men wore jackets and ties. Once inside the church you did not talk aloud! 
Close by was the famous Sorrento restaurant/nightclub. Rumor has it that movie stars George Raft and Jackie Gleason were frequent visitors. I don't remember any other name for the restaurant until it became Thomms many years later. 
Not too far away on Clifton Ave was a wonderful restaurant called Aulisi's. As a teenager my friends and I often went there feeling as though we were important people to be eating in such a nice place.  
I also remember a bowling alley/banquet hall on Verona Ave. Many years later, possibly in the 70's it became a dance club. There was another small banquet hall where I attended sweet sixteen/graduation parties, weddings, etc. It may have been called Beppy's. 
I remember attending the canteen at Elliot St School on Friday nights. A local singing group.......


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