A walk through the old neighborhood and Blessed Sacrament School

by Larry Froelich


This is a response to the memory posted by Artie Kozlow about Blessed Sacrament and his neighborhood. By the way, Artie - I think I was in your class at Blessed Sacrament (class of '61).

My father grew up on Ingraham Place around the corner from Blessed Sacrament School (BSS). He attended BSS graduating in the early 30s, then went on to St Benedicts. After he married and the kids started arriving, we lived on Winans Ave in Hillside until my grandfather died (in the mid 50's). My family (me and 2 older brothers, 2 younger brothers and a younger sister) moved to the house on Ingraham Place, attended BSS and then the boys attended St Benedicts (Jerome '61, Brian '64, me '65, Greg '66 and Chris '72). In'63 we moved to Maplewood and added another brother and another sister.

Other kids that I remember in the neighborhood were Jimmy Clayton (BSS '61) and his sister (Patty '62) & brother (Bobby) who lived directly behind us on Van Ness Place, the Helm brothers on W Runyon St (Jimmy '62, Butch '63-passed away about 10 years ago, saw the obit and went to the funeral home to see his family again after 30+ yrs, and Chuck '65?), their cousins "Hikie" Falivena and sister Teresa (saw her at Butch Helm's wake) lived right downstairs from them in a triple-decker house. Freddy Rataczjak wasn't from the neighborhood but was welcomed because he was "dating" Teresa in 7th grade - and we weren't even sure what that meant! Chuck Vogel lived next door to the Helms, was a cousin also I think, moved to Pt Pleasant in the mid-60's.

After school we'd go to the Helms' backyard and yell "Hey Jimmmeee!". Before you know it between my family and their families we easily came up with 7-8 kids and played stickball, usually on Van Ness Place since there was less traffic. We had races in the neighborhood - with Freddy and Larry Sereka (sp?) being the fastest, and Jimmy Clayton close on their heels.

I remember that a bunch of us were "drafted" one spring to help paint a picnic area on the roof of the convent next to the church. Who knew that even existed??.

We used to walk up Irvington Park to play baseball and football. When we'd get back we'd hang out at Amon's corner store on W Runyon St and buy sodas from the bottom of a huge Coca-cola tank-like container with big blocks of ice floating in water. The test was to see how long you could hold your hand in it.

In the summer, we went up to the Hawthorne Ave elementary ("grammar") school playground to play stick ball, knock hockey, "pool" (on a board hitting little wooden rings as pool balls). Then the South Ward Boys Club was built and we went there to play basketball indoors. I remember Alvin Attles coming to the Boys Club for a visit. He was HUGE!

It also seemed like we went as a group of 7-10 kids to the Roosevelt Theater on Clinton Ave, a few blocks above Clinton Place, almost every Saturday to watch those actions thrillers about cowboys, soldiers, pirates, etc and then play-fight our way all the way home as the cowboy/soldier/pirate/G-man/good guy/bad guy/etc. that we had just seen in the movies.

Cub Scouts were fun at Blessed Sacrament. I can remember going to Littleton Ave (indoor) Pool with the Scouts - in the winter! We also went to a jamboree camp-out at Weequaic Park one year.

Blessed Sacrament also had a track team. Pretty good as I remember. I was involved with the junior corps of the Golden Knights for a couple of years. It was great fun to march on Broad Street for St Patrick's Day & Columbus Day. I was not musically inclined so I was in the color guard.

I think I can go on but I'll stop here and maybe jot down some notes and put together another walk down memory land for another time.

Best wishes to all. And remember that the BEST times are still to come!


Email this memory to a friend.
Enter recipient's e-mail: