Selected Memories from Vailsburg

by jerry arnone


I remember very well that I played very many sports in Ivy Hill park. It included baseball, football, ice skating during the winter, dances on friday night on the concrete slabs that, I think were marked for shuffleboard. I think that a horn was blown to alert everyone that the ice was frozen so that skating was OK.

I also remember that across the street from the park was a tract of land that belonged to either Newark of Essex county. This tract contained some buildings which included the City Alms House which we called the "poor house". Some of the men from that house would come to watch us play baseball.

It was then that I learned some of the most interesting facts of my childhood. You could strain Aqua Velva through a cheese cloth and the remaining liquid was drinkable alcohol. Also, that the biggest bang for your buck for alcohol was port wine. Another interesting thing that I found out was the march up South Orange Avenue to south mountain reservation at a certain time of the year by a lot of the residents of the "poor house" was to obtain a certain plant that could be dried and smoked. It was a real event to see these men with their brown shopping bags filled with what I found out later was marijuana. I got a detailed explanation of how you converted this plant into a really good feeling. 
Another experience that I remember when I got a little older was a night club that I believe was called McFaddens. I am not sure on what street it was located but it was in Vailsburg. Two brothers owned it and did a standup comedy act. Two lines that I still remember: When a bartender was bringing a case of booze to the bar, one of the brothers would shout "here comes the Archbishop of Vailsburg" and the other one was when they spotted someone who was going to a restroom, one of them would shout "watch that first step, its a bitch" 
I am not sure, but I think that the Bamberger estate was in the city limits of Newark, but I can remember carrying my sled all the way to that property and climbing the wrought iron fence and sled riding on the hills of the estate. As a side comment, across the street from the estate was Tony Galento's house.


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