Home Sweet Home

by Stephanie (Grant) Lewald


I have so many wonderful memories of Newark. I was born and raised in the North Ward (Forest Hill Section) I lived on Heller Parkway and DeGraw Avenue. It was a great place to grow up. It was a predominately Italian neighborhood where everyone was safe. We could play in the streets and never be concerned with any crazies snatching any of us up. Mom always said that they would wind up giving us back after a few minutes anyway. There was a guy called Airplane that should have been medicated though. He would walk up and down the Heller Parkway Bridge in the middle of the street with his arms stretched out acting like he was an airplane. Once he would get by a car, he would bang on it with his fist and walk away. He was harmless, just a bit whacked in the head.  
I started off my schooling at Miss Agnes Nursery School. What a wonderful woman she was. Her school was in her home on Mt. Prospect Ave by my father's office. She took great care of all of her little angels. I then moved on to Our Lady of Good Council for a few years and wound up coming back to Good Council in High School. Hey Ms. Murphy, remember me????  
Sundays at my Uncle Vic's house on Highland Ave. It was a revolving door of people. Everyone was welcome there. Picking Cherries at my Grandmas house on Highland Ave. She had a great cherry tree in her back yard. We could climb onto the roof of the garage and still only be 2 feet off the ground and pick until our fingers hurt.  
My best friend was and still is Anna Roma (now Jones). We used to hang out down on Clifton Avenue by her house and roller skate down Elwood Ave., Branch Brook Park. One of the most beautiful parks in NJ and quite possibly the East Coast. Cherry Blossom Land. Danny's Corner Store. Hanging out by the Tracks with everyone. My first crush occurred down there. There used to be a German Deli/Liquor store on Mt. Prospect Ave that made the best German Potato Salad I have ever had. They have been long gone from there now. Mr. Scrafanis tailor shop. He would always say, "Itsa bigga job..!" 
The old men that would play horseshoes on the Old Road to Bloomfield.(I don't think it's called that anymore). They humored me as a little girl and let me play with them. I haven't been back up to Newark in ages so I'm not sure if the clay pits are still there, but what fun I would have, especially if I wound up getting a ringer or for that matter being able to reach the pit.  
Dead Mans Hill by the 4 diamonds.. Need I say more??? Mom always said to stay away from it. But we never could. As a kid, sledding down that hill meant that you are one brave soul. My brother wound up in Claara Maas Hospital because of a wrong turn on his sled. Those were the days. 
Stretches chicken at the Belmont tavern. The waitresses were/are too much. The aroma that wafted thru the dining area was almost too much to bear. Hope you are resting in peace Stretch!! We would always order the same thing every time my family went. Salad, Ziti with Pot Cheese, and yes the menu says exactly that, and a couple of orders of Chicken Savoy aka Stretches Chicken. There was never a need to deviate from that order. Ah... I can almost taste it.

J.J's hotdog truck on Lake Street and Bloomfield Ave, we could get 3 for a buck fifty. Mmmm Mmmm good. Calandras bakery. My dad would go there every day and get fresh outta the oven bread . They also had the best pastries in town. You can't get good bread like that down the shore where I live now. My grocery stores sell Calandras bread. I pay out the nose for it, but it's worth it to me.

I could go on and on. But I guess I will stop here. I miss the old Newark that I grew up in. Maybe one day things can be the way they used to be. Anyone can walk down the street, any time day or night and feel safe. Wouldn't that be a wonderful thing.

My parents finally sold the house a few years back and dad closed up his practice and retired after more than 40 years of Dentistry at 515 Mt. Prospect Avenue. I'd like to do a drive by one day and see if there is anyone left from the old neighborhood and if our house still looks the same.

I hope you enjoyed my memories.

I will never forget Newark. Some of the best times of my life happened

Stephanie Lewald (Grant)
Atlantic Highlands, NJ.


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