How I remember Growing up in Newark NJ

by Joseph Costa

First, let me say that I think growing up and being raised in Newark was almost a privilege. I was born on Morris Ave. near 14th Avenue, then my family moved Down-Neck. I think I was about 3 or 4 years of age, and we rented a three room apt. at the corners of Adam & Downing St's.

I can remember the Rotella Soda Company being right across the street from where I lived, and the owner Mr. Rotella would always give us kids soda on warm days, he was a very special man to me.

Then my family moved up-town, to 15th Ave between Camden Street and Fairmount Ave. I attended Camden Street school until the 6th grade, then we moved again to Stephan Crane Village, right after it was constructed. I went to Abington Ave. School, graduated and then went to St. Benedicts Prep on High Street for 1 year, not being a school person. Fr. Tim, Dean of Discipline, told my Mom to save her money and send me to public school. At that time the tuition was $150.00 per year so off I went to West Side High School, using my grandmothers address, since I lived out of the district and there was no busing at that time. I would take the 6 Crosstown bus every day to go to school. I finished in 1947.

Many happy years were spent in Stephan Crane Village and I am one of many persons that could say truthfully that Frankie Valle, aka Frank Castelucci, grew up together. He was a singer then and you all know the rest of his story.

In 1951, I was drafted into the US Army during the Korean Conflict, that's what they called it then, it turned out to be a War. I was married to my wife in 1952, just before being shipped overseas to Korea. I was wounded in combat in October 1952 and shipped home to Walter Reed Medical Center Washington DC. I worked for the Coca Cola Bottling Co. 1st Ave. and No. 6th Street, and after two years there I took a job with the City of Newark as a Police Officer.

At that time Newark was a hell of a Town. People from New York City came into this fine city for entertainment and restaurants. To you the pretzel man, I can remember you or your co-workers selling hot pretzels all over the city including under the clock at Bamberger's at the corner of Halsey St. and Market St. I can tell many more interesting stories about Newark as it was but, I'm sorry to say, it's been on a downward slide since the riots of '67.

I would like to end my talk by saying that in September of 1939, there were 49 theaters in Newark, we had at least four beer companies, that was a tribute to Newark's water. So as a Newarker, I'm very proud that I grew up in that town during my childhood and as I became a grown man,who served this great country proud.


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