St. Columba Church and Elementary School
are located on Pennsylvania Ave. in Newark between Thomas St. and
Around 1941. the parish undertook a complete renovation of the
inside of the school . Painting, flooring, adjustable desks, latest
in lighting, all new bathrooms, new gym-auditorium with pull out
bleachers and a beautiful new stage. The entire basement of the
school was turned into a social center. There were pool tables,
bowling alleys,meeting rooms,bar for adults, and a club room for
teens and young adults called the Wigwam. I can't recall how that
name was decided.
The Wigwam was a tastefully decorated, very large room with tables
for four situated on each side of the dance floor. There was a juke
box on one end and a full service soda and snack bar on the other.
Does anyone out there remember May Martini? That soda fountain
was May's territory and woe to anyone who crossed her. She wore
a faded red wig and a huge leather belt around her waist on which
hung her keys. It was rumored ( very quietly) that May was an ex-show
girl from the burlesque.
Frequently on Saturday, there was live music supplied by Chuck
Robbins on the piano, Johnny Bell on the sax, Artie Bell on the
clarinet and Leo Helm on the drums. Leo's drum solos were the stuff
of legend. And everybody danced-jitterbug-slow dance -boogie. My
sister, Kitty , was the undisputed "camel walk" champ
and Hank and Helen Dlugosz did a peabody that put Fred and Ginger
What an unbelievable facility.
How lucky we were then.
And how lucky we are now to have the wonderful memories of that