The Projects

by Osvaldo Laracuente


I grew up in Newark in the late 60's and 70's, in the projects, Columbus Homes Bldg. 6 Apt. 3A. We first moved to the projects from the Lincoln Park area when I was entering 1st grade.

I went to McKinley Elementary and graduated from 6th grade. I remember that my 4th and 5th grade classes were in the basement. Then my 6th grade class was in the "old building". It was great going out to the playground at lunch time. All my classmates stuck together and we played a lot of punch ball with the "pinkies" or " pimple" balls. You were great if you could punch it over the fence into the St. Lucy's parking lot. We also played a lot of stick ball off the school wall.

When I graduated from 6th grade, I was given the Jackie Robinson/ Roberto Clemente Award for the top 6th grader at McKinley. I also remember Mr. Russamano at the McKinley Rec. During my last year there, he put together these punch ball tournaments where classes would compete. My class won the championship, man those are some memories!

I later went to Webster Jr. High. Everybody seemed to be scared to go there and you heard so many stories. My sisters went to St. Lucy's because my father did not want them to go to Webster. I remember the St. Gerard feasts and 7th Ave, the bakeries, the candy stores, and drug stores. Cuba Bakery was the place. My father got up early every morning and bought two long breads right out the oven. He would bring in other Spanish pastries too. That bread is great with coffee and or eggs in the morning. You can eat it with Gouda cheese too.

The projects were tough, but I cherish my times there. I wish I could meet up or contact more of my old friends. I think practically all my school friends lived there, either Sheffield Drive or 7th Ave. I will right more memories later.


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