Fond Memories of Schofield Street, Mount Vernon School, & Vailsburg

by Barbara Marin


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 turbulent time.

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.


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