I grew up in the South Ward of Newark which
gave me many great memories. I have been married to my husband Anthony
for 45 years and I feel sometimes that his memories are mine since
I have heard about how wonderful the First Ward was many many times.
He attended St. Lucy's school and then McKinley School. His memories
of Catholic school are mostly bad because his family was dirt poor
and he was treated as such. I hear many times how they would sleep
on the fire escapes where he lived on Sheffield Street (these houses
were torn down to build the Columbus Homes) when the older guys
had the fire hydrant open to keep cool. Nobody had fans, let alone
air conditioners. They would feel the cool water spray every once
in a while. They slept out there complete with blankets and pillows.
I also have heard about the chocolate factory and the wonderful
smells coming from it. I feel like I was the one to buy candy at
Mario's candy store since I have heard the stories so often.
He had uncles who belonged to one of the men's clubs(The PC Club?)
they had at the time and they would let the kids in to watch TV
if they were quiet and give them all a nice cold soda (maybe Manhattan
Special?). He mentions D' Noia bread which I did have the pleasure
of tasting later on. It was different than regular Italian Bread.
Also Harry Mayer Foodtown which was the big supermarket of the time.
Nappi's wonderful sandwiches, Zippo's sausage and provolone etc.
Then there was Carmine's deli on the corner of Seventh Avenue and
Stone Street I believe. They also had all the Italian specialties.
The best cheesecake was bought at Boscia's (sp?) on Seventh Avenue.
Everyone shopped on Broadway and then had some hotdogs from Broadway
Tom's truck. My husband, Anthony, seems to think they were like
.15 each. He had a relative who was said to have eaten 35 hotdogs
at one time! Can this be true?
There was also the Regent Theatre where everyone went on Saturday
for the matinee. And let us not forget the Greek restaurant on Broadway
with the best rice pudding. The Rotunda pool on the corner of Clifton
Avenue was only a dime to enter and the only place to cool off other
than the fire escapes. There was Leo's dry goods on Seventh Avenue
where you could purchase clothes, towels, shoes and the black dresses
that all the old Italian widows wore forever once they lost a husband.
He even got to see Jackie Gleason, Joe Dimaggio and other celebrities
when they were entering the restaurant down there. I think it was
Victoria's Castle. They naturally never got to eat there since they
were so poor. Nappi's sandwiches was as good as it got for them.
It seems everyone hung out of the windows. Especially the mom's
watching the kids. And at mealtime or when it was time to "come
in" everyone called the kids by name out the windows.
To hear my husband tell it, the First Ward was paradise. I almost
feel at times as if I was there. It is a shame that today's kids
will not have these simple innocent times when kids appreciated
even a cold soda.