I grew up on Schofield Street, located
off Stuyvesant Avenue. I was born in 1950 and lived there until
1974. My fondest memories are walking everywhere in the neighborhood.
I attended Mount Vernon School in the Ivy Hill section. My kindergarten
teacher was Mrs. Carley and I had Mrs. Herman in first grade, and
Miss Hanley in second grade. She used to give us candy hearts if
sat quietly with our hands folded. I also remember Mrs. Eisland,
my fourth grade teacher, Mr. Feeley, my gym teacher, and Mrs. Oliver
who was my eighth grade teacher. Mr. Hockstool was the principal
Mrs. Hahn, the vice principal. In those days, we had an hour for
lunch and walked home. I used to eat at my aunt's house on Ivy Street
everyday, because it was closer to my school. My favorite lunch
was either grilled cheese or a chicken pot pie.
The minute I got home from school, I put on my roller skates and
we would skate up and down our dead-end street. Another activity
we loved to do was jump rope. We'd stay outside and play until our
parents called us in for supper.
In the summer we sat out on the stoop and after supper we waited
for the Good Humor truck and when it got dark, we caught lightening
bugs. I also remember the truck that used to come around in the
summertime spraying DDT for mosquitoes. There was a storm sewer
at the end of my street which we called "the brook." We'd always
walk down there, especially after it rained. It held a fascination
for all the children in the neighborhood.
I remember walking my dog down Stuyvesant Avenue. I'd stop at Grove's
Candy Store to buy candy buttons, root beer barrels, chocolate babies
or Dolly Madison ice cream. My mother would send me to Otto's Delicatessen
to buy bread and cold cuts. On Friday nights we'd get pizza from
Jimmy's Pizzeria. Komoshane's Drug Store was on Eighteenth Avenue.
This is where we'd get the 54 bus to Newark. We often walked to
the Stanley Theatre for Saturday matinees. I can still remember
watching. "The Blob."
In the winter, I used to look out the window of Mount Vernon School
to see if the white flag with the red circle was flying in Ivy Hill
Park. This is where we used to go ice skating, before South Mountain
Arena opened. Another fun activity was tobogganing at Cameron Field.
My best friends, the Tauriello's lived across the street and in
the summer when my cousin Joanne came to visit; we'd get on our
bicycles and ride everywhere imaginable. We also put on shows in
my backyard or their basement. At Christmas we'd go Christmas caroling
to raise money for the Vailsburg Ambulance Squad.
Sacred Heart Church is where I was baptized, made my first communion,
confirmation, and was married. My mother and father were married
in the same church. I used to go to the 9:00 children's mass every
Sunday, but since I went to public school, we sat behind the Sacred
Heart School students. I went to catechism every Sunday after mass.
I still remember my Baltimore Catechism with the green cover and
having memorizing everything in it.
I attended Archbishop Walsh High School in Irvington. There were
no school busses then and we used to walk to school everyday. If
I was really tired, after cheerleading practice, I'd ride the 94
bus home from Irvington Center.
I will never forget the riots in 1967. We could hear gunfire from
out house and I can still remember seeing a tank go down Stuyvesant
Avenue. Many policemen lived on our street. I remember their wives
kissing them goodbye like they were going off to war. This was a
I didn't go far from home when I went to college. I attended Seton
Hall University. I used to drive down Varsity Road and into the
back entrance. Our favorite place to "hang out" was Grunnings
in the Village or Grunnings at the Top. I can still taste the delicious
corn beef and pastrami sandwiches and the barrel of pickles that
were on the table at the Famous Delicatessen.
I have not lived in New Jersey in thirty years. Last summer when
I was visiting relatives in West Caldwell, I drove back to my old
neighborhood. It has certainly changed in many ways and everything
seems smaller than I remember it, but my fondest memories are in
that house on Schofield Street and in the Vailsburg neighborhood
where I grew up.