My Cherished Newark Memories

by Karen Banda


Summer Avenue:

We lived at 107. My grandmother and her second husband lived a few houses down. Summers in their yard are among my most cherished memories. A grape arbor - loved to chew on the little curly-ques that would have turned into grape clusters. Tart, tangy, earthy - the arbor was at once warm from the summer yet cooler because of the shade from the canopy. Wine was made in the basement. Visited wineries on my honeymoon in California's Nappa Valley which brought back memories of Joe's casks in the basement. Tastes of wine not yet ready for prime time. Strawberries grew in their yard. Zucchini blossoms which were cooked in all sorts of ways. Corn stalks in Newark - and we ate the corn! Tomatoes, of course, along with basil, parsley, oregano... 
St. Lucy's Church and School:

1956 - First grade at St. Lucy's. Nuns in impossible headgear. First grade. Mother Superior was the principal. First Holy Communion May 3rd, 1957. Can still smell the flowers from my bouquet. Remember assembling in the court yard and processing into the church. Sister Angelina was my first grade teacher. I won a prize in Catechism for something - a pink plastic cross that meant the world to me which I unfortunately gave to my "former" husband and haven't seen since. I also remember a procession I was in after receiving first communion. I and my female classmates were dressed in our First Communion finery once again and carried wax "feet". Cannot for the life of me remember what the procession or the "feet" were about...St. Lucy's Church is still one of my favorites and we return every October for St. Gerard. I revel in the smell of the real burning candles, the statues, marble. To me St. Lucy's will forever be the epitome of a Catholic (Italian!) church. Priests in the tri-cornered hats and lacy white overlays on the black cassocks. 
St. Gerard's Feast:

Gathering at my grandmother's house on Summer Avenue in the 70's. Going to the feast, following the procession, enjoying the entertainment, then the entire family gathering for dinner (pasta, sausage, meatballs, braciole, etc.) My brother, Gerald, spent the first few years of his life dressed as St. Gerard for Halloween. Everyone gathered on Summer Avenue - from Brooklyn and Bloomfield and wherever we might have scattered. We still go back every October 16 for the procession and the feast and relive all of those wonderful memories. I hear the dialect I grew up with, see familiar faces even though I don't know their names. My heart swells and my eyes tear for the good old days. 
Alex's Market on Summer Avenue:

Going on an errand for my mother (on my own!) to pick up some pasta or whatever, and watching him use the tongs to get something off a high shelf. Also going for fresh ricotta, doled out in a tin with waxed paper over it, and returning that tin the next day. 
I always thought my mother was special in some way. During the day when we walked the Avenue and


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