A Walk Throught Newark with Julius Spohn & Johnny

by John Desranleau


Yesterday I had the privilege to meet Julius Spohn – Mr. Newark.

My son (Johnny) and I met him at his house. Our first impression was this man really lived in Newark. On entering his house we were taken back on its decor, each room had specific theme. Memorabilia galore, pictures, items, books Etc.

I brought both of my cameras (these were to take pictures of my old neighborhood), But upon seeing Jules collections I asked if I could start shooting and recording the great stuff around his house. Each Floor was a different revelation. We first went down to his finished basement; there I was greeted with all sorts of pictures of Newark. The founders, early city plans, layouts, and even the bill of sale from the purchase of land from the native Indians.

As I was recording with my Cam-Corder Julius provided the narrator track and explained every item that I pointed the camera on. I was totally impressed with all his knowledge. Julius with all of his collections could have had his house made into an educational center to give tours. Johnny and I were shown all the rooms, each one could be a days worth of information if you were to examine all the items displayed.

After seeing all the floors Julius invited us to see his wonderful backyard garden. It was hard to believe that such a nice garden was possible in Newark. Not only was Julius a historian but he also has a green thumb. Johnny and I were very impressed.

Next we jumped into my van to see old Newark, I could not have had a better tour guide. Each Street/ Ave Building / Church, Julius described History and pointed out so many little things that I would not have noticed.

My Camcorder was rolling. I lived in Newark for 18 years but I discovered I knew so little about this great city. Julius put a positive spin on the resurrection of this once given up for dead city.

The purpose of this meeting was that I wanted my short story that I am writing on this site called the “Last Flight of the New Yorker” to be as accurate as possible. So I called Julius and said that I wanted to go down to my old street (South 11th Street) to get pictures and to check on a house that I was describing in my latest chapter (The Corral) and see if my memory depicted the right description of it. Julius said that he was off and he could accompany me to go revisit my old neighborhood. So that is how this outing came to be.

I saw much more then I could have ever hoped to see. The places I got to see on this outing I never thought in my lifetime I would ever get a chance to see again. Julius opens the doors to many - St Antoninus – The Monastery of St Dominick, He knew all the Priests and brothers and knew and explained everything that I was seeing and recording. Again so much history and interesting things I never knew. I got great once in a life time shots and interviews, again Julius was the provider.

We ventured on to the street we both grew up on. There we both added to the tales and history of it. I surprised myself that I had correctly described 364 King house in my story. So much has changed on South 11th Street – except for one thing the people living down here still drive very fast down my old street, maybe it is an old Indian spell? Here again Julius provided his magic – striking conversations with the people sitting outside on their porches. I got to talk to old neighbors that were still living on my block, at first they did not remember me, but after I mentioned my crazy brother Jack, (Who could forget a character like him?) they remembered my family. It was so good talking to them; we all laughed and remembered so many wonderful things from way back then.

Next I got to see my old house and even got the present owner to unlock the gate to see the back yard! Yes! like the movie saying, “You might not like what you see” Everything had changed it was almost like seeing a corpse. My fathers and our entire hard work was wiped out, the back yard was totally trashed – gone was all the beauty that once was there. I guess maybe in this case it would have been better off if the gate was not reopened and it was left to my memory of how it was when we left. I was speechless on what I had seen. The owner then said I could look into the house. When he opened the front door and I entered and seeing the front hallway I decided I would end it there. I thanked the kind man and we departed.

We hopped into the van and went up South Orange Ave, again Julius and I stitched the history of all the stores and shops that were once there. I took several shots of the Hoffman Bottle that was hanging precariously by was left of its tangling twisted supporting superstructure. Sadly it reminded me of the movie scene when Charleton Heston saw the twisted wreck of the Statue of Liberty’s hand sticking out on the beach. It was shocking to see it in this fashion. My mind brought me back to the day it stood so proudly against Blue Newark Skies.

We then treated ourselves to the absolute Best Italian Hot dogs at the Jimmy Buff’s in Irvington. Julius friend who was behind the counter is an old Newarker himself = A great and Super Guy! And that made this Hot Dog Place the Overall Best, “Hands down – Its the Genuine Thing!

After the fine dining we then went to see my second Newark Home On Kerrigan Blvd in the Vailsburg Section. I got to go inside and see my old apartment – My land Lady still lives here – God Bless Her!

Next down Springfield Ave – More – Spohn History Tour – I got to see the Old German cemetery – What a beautiful cemetery It is a shame that so many head stones are down – hopefully it can be remedied someday.

The bright spot of the day was that I saw all the new housing being built in Newark. A New Day is Coming – My very best Wishes for Newark.

I’ll never forget this day in rediscovering Newark with my son and Julius

Thank You Julius

John Desranlesu is a Car Show Photographer. You can view his work at:



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