Growing up in Stephen Crane Village 1939-1953

by Anthony (Toddy) Patuto


I was born and raised in Newark and spent my happiest years in the Stephen Crane Village (1939-1953). 
My fondest memories are the relay races (of which I was a team member) held at the city stadium on Bloomfield Ave. My alma mater, Abington Ave School was usually the winner (grin) under the coaching of Mr Reed (aka Diamond Jim). Another Abington Ave alumni was Joe Pica who played the piano. Also a fellow I admired, was ball player, Frank Christiano, who as fate would have ended up being my fiance's son's father-in-law. 
The trolley system was also a great memory along with friends and me hopping the freight trains and riding them into New York. Most of the residents of Stephen Crane had Victory Gardens in front of their houses. I remember picking the dandelion to put in mom's ansalata. 
We had the "best" park (Branch Brook) right in our front yard. Taking pictures under the Cherry Blossom trees was a beautiful site. The summer was spent playing baseball at the diamonds and winter sleigh riding down "dead man's hill" was the best!  
Stephen Crane neighbors were Frankie Castelucci (Valli) as most will tell you. Many politicians, police officers, doctors, etc also came out of "the village." 
Downtown Newark was the greatest shopping mecca (long before the existence of malls). Then there was the "Public Service" building which like all the major buildings was beautifully lit up during Christmas. 
Last but not least was the victory in 1951 of McKinley Jr High School students (myself included) over the teachers. I can't remember why we went on strike but we made the papers and it is a sweet memory (grin). 
I could think of no better place to grow up in, than Stephen Crane Village, which was built on a previous dump site!


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