West Newark Memories

by Cliff Brownstein


I lived in Newark from age 1 to 10, first on Hanford St., of which I have no recollection, and then on Peshine Avenue, of which I have a spotty memory at best. The years were 1953-1962. But here goes.

We lived in a three family house on Peshine Ave, a few houses in from Bergen St. Our side of Peshine Ave. backed up to a row of factories. When I was about seven years old, my father nearly beat me within an inch of my life after discovering me and some friends frolicking from factory rooftop to factory rooftop one Saturday morning. I have no idea how we even got up there.

Across the street from our house was a candy store. I remember buying long pretzel sticks out of a tall jar on the counter for two cents each. Diagonally across the street was a bar, which I was forbidden to even peek into. And on the next block of Peshine Ave. was a barbershop. I believe the proprietor was Tony the Barber. One time he doused my hair with such a sickening hair tonic that my mother sent me back to have him wash it out and put in something else that smelled better.

I remember the coal trucks. We were fortunate in that our coal bin was right next to our furnace, making it convenient (as convenient as shoveling coal ever gets) to shovel the coal into the furnace. My grandparents, who lived about five houses down the street from us, had their coal bin in the front of their cellar and their furnace near the back, making it a long trip with each shovelful.

I also remember the ride trucks coming down our street. The ferris wheel and the whip were the two most vivid. And as each kid disembarked the ride, he/she was given a prize--usually something that broke five minutes after getting it.

And of course, there was the produce peddler whose booming voice could be heard all the way into our backyard, but who made it very convenient to buy fresh produce when we couldn't get to the farmer's market.

I attended Bergen St. School for kindergarten and half of first grade before moving. My kindergarten teacher was Mrs. Miller, someone who seemed 100 years old at the time. My first grade teacher was Miss Robinson.

One of the other posters to this Web site, Bob Lasher, speaks of his stepfather, Walter Heineman, who owned a TV repair shop, among several other businesses. He was our TV repairman. I remember him coming to our house several times to fix our Admiral 12" console TV.

I have lived in the Washington, DC area for many years, but about three years ago, I was in New Jersey visiting some relatives and decided to take a drive through my old neighborhood in Newark. All the houses, including mine, that existed on my block of Peshine Ave. are now gone, steam rolled down to make way for more industry. It was a sad sight to see, but I suppose, inevitable in a way. All that remains of my old neighborhood resides in my memory bank.


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