Being Raised in Newark

by Catherine Trajer (Xavier)


I have wonderful memories being raised in Newark. I lived near the corner of Fairmount Avenue and 14th Avenue from birth until I was 14 years old. I remember wonderful neighbors. No one ever even locked their doors!

I played on the cement sidewalks - roller skating, hop scotch (we would get a heel from the shoemaker to play), spud, I spy, etc. It didn't matter if you were a boy or girl - we all played together. We even played board games together (Sorry, etc.). I remember roller skating through the alleyway of the "Italian American Club." We would shout in the door and hear the echo and quickly skate away.

One of my fondest memories was the Feast of St. Rocco's Church. It came up our corner on 14th Avenue. My dad would always buy me a balloon (it always popped before I even got into the house) and a bag of dry chi chi beans.

I remember walking to Boylan Street pool and paying a dime to get it. We put our belongings in a basket and nothing was ever taken. I remember going to the Boys Club to swim, too. I went to the movies at the Ritz every Saturday. We saw scary movies that in today's perspective weren't scary at all! We would walk to Springfield Avenue for lemon ice and shop in the 5 & 10.

I went to Camden Street School until 4th grade and then transferred to St. Antoninus because St. Rocco's did not even have a school yet.

The Italian men in our neighborhood would sit on the stoops and holler if a ball went on their property - one man was especially grouchy. However, when the figs were ripe on their trees they would always give us some. My mom would talk to our neighbors through the windows of the alleyways.

Can you imagine I took two buses to Branch Brook Park to ice skate in the winter? All alone, before I was 14. I also went to Downtown Newark by bus. My cousins that lived in the Ironbound came "Uptown" to meet me. I remember going to the movies to see Love Me Tender starring Elvis with a bunch of my friends at the RKO Proctor!

We had a factory behind my house and we would shoot bottle caps through the windows and throw sticky little plants at people who walked by (they would stick on their clothes and they didn't even know it). That was the extent of our pranks. I could go on and on.

I thank God I was able to grow up in Newark. It was a wonderful place........


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