During the post World War II era, up to
the 1960s, you turned to Winchell, Sullivan, and Sobol for New York
gossip. But in Newark you turned to Jerry Nusbaum in the Newark
Nusbaum's column, under various headings, provided a daily account
of local gossip, noteworthy doings, or Newark nighttime events,
and cited Newarkers from all walks of life.
Whatever its heading, most Newarkers usually referred to the column
simply as "Nusbaum."
Column Ran for 36 Years
Nusbaum's column first appeared as "Whisperings" in 1934
in the morning Ledger, and the name was changed to "Evenings
Out" in 1939 when the Ledger merged with the Star-Eagle and
became the Newark Star-Ledger. Then in the early 1950s, it became
Native Newarker Ray Miller, now living in retirement in California,
recalled for me "He was everybody's friend and 'everybody'
read Nusbaum in the Star-Ledger. He was Newark's version of Walter
A Weequahic neighborhood resident of the 1930s remembers "that
when Jerry reported on someone from his Weequahic neighborhood,
telephones would ring and people would alert others to be sure they
read the names of the people they knew."
Nusbaum kept his column fresh and lively by making nightly rounds
of various popular nightspots and restaurants such as The Tavern,
and The Newarker, or social events, always with a pad in his hand
jotting down 'items' to use in his column.
Elliott Sudler, a retired Newark pharmacist now living in Union,
recalled for me "He had a feeling for the little people, not
just the celebrities, and he wrote about everybody."
Nusbaum's granddaughter, Ellice Amanna2,
now living in a suburb of Washington D.C., reinforced Sudler's recollection.
She told me how she lived with Nusbaum after his wife's passing,
and drove him around on his nightly rounds.
"What I remember, she told me, "is the time he would
spend with the waiter, the hatcheck girl, the parking lot attendant,
jotting down items on their child's birthday, their parents' anniversary,
or whatever, for inclusion in his next column.
"These items appeared side-by-side with news of better-known
Jerseyans. In this he was absolutely democratic.
"I learned from him the most valuable of lessons-- that every
life deserves to be celebrated regardless of station; and, of course,
that everyone has a story.
"I never heard my grandfather say or write an unkind word
about anyone. He simply and genuinely loved people."
His Writing Style
Nusbaum typed out his daily columns on a black underwood typewriter
with the various notes torn out of his spiral notepad spread out
on the table alongside the typewriter. Before his wife's passing
in the late 1960s, Nusbaum would sometimes discuss some of his items
with her before putting them on paper. She would also make suggestions,
from time to time for items to include in his column, or to note
for possible future use. She died in March, 1967.
His granddaughter recalled that he worked in a room filled with
books, presumably a library.
Making His Nightly Rounds
Nusbaum's nightly rounds in search of items for his daily Star-Ledger
column were not a solo activity.
His granddaughter recalls "Papa Jerry took us around what
seemed like nightly, visiting various restaurants and events. He
always carried a small pad in his top pocket, and at each stop he
circulated around, and jotted down items for his next column.
Two of my favorite stops as a young teenager were The Tavern Restaurant
and The Newarker at Newark Airport.
Granddaughter Becomes His Driver
When she turned 17, his granddaughter got her drivers license and
became his nightly driver. Nusbaum was 84 at this time, was becoming
uneasy driving at night, and enjoyed the companionship of
The move proved to be a wise one, all around, because his granddaughter,
the following year when she graduated from high school, was employed
by Mort Pye at the Star-Ledger and within three years was a full-fledged
But in Nusbaum's last year of life, in 1970, in failing health,
he was hospitalized and his granddaughter made the rounds herself
and supplied the notes to Nusbaum who edited them, and with her
help produced his daily column.
Upon his death in mid-1970, she continued writing the "Personally
Speaking" column until she left the Star-Ledger to become editor
on a New York evening news TV program.
Chronology of 63 Year Newspaper Career
Nusbaum started with the Newark Evening Star in 1907. While looking
for work, he ran into Frank Clarke, managing editor of the Evening
Star at Murray's Tavern on Market Street. They chatted "over
a ten-cent whiskey" and he was hired on the spot.
By 192, he was the Evening Star police reporter3,
and also wrote a weekly column on Newark police doings called "Through
In 1913, he briefly left the paper to serve as secretary of the
Newark Bears baseball team, but returned to the paper after one
A few years later the paper became the morning Ledger and Nusbaum
launched what would become a precursor to his future columns. That
column was called 'Round Theatre Lobbies.' It was mainly about entertainers
and patrons of the arts.
It was during this era, when Nusbaum's column was devoted to theatres
and entertainment that he cultivated friendships with many Broadway
and Hollywood personalities, as well as young upcoming performers.
Preemeninent among the newcomers was a connection with Jackie Gleason,
who remained a lifelong friend4.
Becomes Ledger City Editor
From 1924 to 1934, Nusbaum was city editor of the Ledger. After
ten years in this job, with Prohibition ended, Newark's nightlife
burgeoned and Nusbaum gave up his city desk job and hard news coverage,
and started a new column, "Whisperings," with items gathered
in Newark's numerous taverns and night clubs, after dark.
Nusbaum's column became "Evenings Out" in 1939 and later
was retitled to its final name "Personally Speaking" in
the 1950s, and continued under that name until his death in 1970.
Led Active Social Life
Jerry and Sylvia Nusbaum were social beings and loved hosting parties.
These parties, his granddaughter recalled for me, were an exciting
part of her childhood. Some were small cozy dinners, but many were
big noisy affairs populated by the many characters that came out
of Newark in those days.
"They held these parties all through my childhood and I remember
the story-telling, the kibitzing, the laughter, the piano playing,
and the singing.
"My grandfather never judged. If he liked you, he liked you,
and he forgave a lot.
"So there was always an unlikely mix of people at these parties
from boyhood friends of all backgrounds, and restaurant owners,
and entertainers, to priests from Seton Hall, and the notorious
Longy Zwillman, and, always, the family."
His Newark Roots
Jerry Nusbaum was born on August 23, 1883 on Orange Avenue in Newark.
He was the oldest of six children. His parents were first generation
German Jews. He graduated from Barringer High School and Cornell
His parents had wanted him to be a surgeon. He went to medical
school and did his internship at Long Island College Hospital.
However he lost interest in a medical career and toured the country
taking odd jobs before accepting an offer of a newspaper job with
a Newark newspaper. It was a career he would follow until his death.
Death and Burial
Jerry Nusbaum died on July 4, 1970 at the Clara Maass Hospital.
He is buried at the Oheb Shalom Cemetery in Hillside beside his
wife of 45 years.
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