Memories of the Old Third Ward

by Barbara Andrews-Jenkins


My name is Barbara Andrews-Jenkins.

I grew up in the Third Ward of Newark, mail zone 3, better known today as the Central Ward. My parents came from Sparta, Georgia in 1945 and settled in Newark, New Jersey. I was born the following year, April 21st. on Easter Sunday at Beth Israel Medical Center.

My parents were "rooming" with a family on Hamden Street at the time and later moved to a 5-story cold-water flat at 75 South Orange Avenue, it was a brick, 5-story walk-up (the Society Hill development sits at that spot today). To keep warm in the winter, we had to burn oil in one of those huge, black stoves in the kitchen, which also heated our water tank for hot water. Everyone carried an oil can or some type of container to get fifty-cents worth of oil.

Mr. Johnnie's grocery store, LaMar dry cleaners (owned by Mr. Lloyd, Miss Gussie, and their only daughter Diane), and the Big "M" were on the corner of Wickliffe Street, Broome Street, and South Orange Avenue, and there was Mr. Joe's grocery store, Yee Lee Chinese laundry, and can't forget Suga Wuga's Chicken Shack.

Former Councilman Irvine Turner visited the community on a regular basis. If you wanted some nightlife, you could go to the "Big M" (I think James Brown put the name in one of his songs), Frederick's Lounge where you might hear Nat King Cole or his brother, the 94 Bar, Rex's Lounge, Manor Lounge, Howard Bar, and can't forget Jimmy McGriff on the B-Hammond organ. If you wanted to shoot some pool, it was a short walk to the pool hall at Howard Street.

If you lost your house keys, you could go to Jimmy Nole's to get a new one. While playing hop-scotch and double-dutch, I listened to live jazz jam sessions coming from Louie's apartment across the street, and old 78 blues recordings of Bo Diddly, Lightnin' Hopkins, Muddy Waters coming from Ms. Ella's apartment during her many weekend gambling parties in the summer. You can't forget the smell cooking chittlins' and collard greens for her guests.

Other neighboring stores in the community were Mr. Heywood and Mr. Sam's candy store where they had the best shoe shine and hat cleaning business in Newark. If you wanted fresh fish, just walk up one block to the Fish Market where my next door neighbor, Mr. Johnnie Allan worked; and Mr. Ben had the best ice cream after sunday service at the Metropolitan Baptist Church.

Springfield Avenue in Newark was the economic hub of the Central Ward. There was Wigler's and Lehrhoff's bakeries, hot-dog shops, vegetable markets, live chicken markets, meats hanging from butcher shop windows, Sidney's deli and Loufell's custard ice cream on Springfield Avenue and Jones Street. When it came time to shop for school clothes Mr. Sasson's shop had what you needed for a reasonable price, and it was just a short walk to the next corner for your new school shoes at Mile's Shoe Store by Broome Street. Can't forget the local 5 and 10 cent store where I bought "Midnight in Paris" cologne for my mom one Christmas.

Summers in the Central Ward were not like any other area of Newark. No one had air conditioning back then, you kept cool with a flavored snow cone, swimming at Rotunda Pool or the "Down Neck" pool, and could sleep on the fire escape during the hot summer nights.

I attended Robert Treat School (kindergarten - 9th grade Jr. High), and Central High School where I received an excellent education. I grew up around masonic orders, religious groups (Daddy Grace and Father Devine), and social clubs (Conquistadors, Mighty Counts, Barons) and my own clubs the Crusaders/Crusader Debs and Egyptian Gods/Goddesses.

Although the community was notorious for shootings, stabbings, number running, drugs, and other vices, most of these people were actually our neighbors and friends. Many good things and good people came out of the Third Ward.

Although the Newark Riots of '67 changed the community overnight, today there is a rebirth with new housing developments, businesses and restaurants. But it will never erase nor replace the wonderful memories of my childhood and growing up in the old Third Ward.


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