Sussex Avenue Armory

by MaryAnn (D'Uva) Torluccia


I have many memories of Newark. Some of the most memorable of them concern a particular section where the Newark Armory or the Sussex Avenue Armory was located. Across from the Armory was St. Augustine Church and directly in back of the church was the St. Augustine elementary school where I, my sister, and all my cousins graduated from, studiously taught by the Sisters of Christian Charity. While the memories are many and wonderful I want to recall the Armory. Attending the school right across from it gave us the opportunity to enjoy all the facilities, activities it offered.

One fun one was the big brick wall where we use to meet after school and weekends to play many games of handball. Another opportunity was the chance to see many soldiers who passed through during the turbulent years of WWII and beyond. AH but the two most treasured memories that I hope my memory cells won’t let me forget was when the Ringling Bros. Circus came to town and a most famous New Jersey celebrity came to entertain.

When the circus came right after school we would be there seeing first hand the wonderful animals, especially the lions and elephants. When they could the caretakers would let us feed them. And the shows my memories allow me to remember I know there aren’t any today the way they were then, grandiose, exciting, colorful, and dangerous.

Ah, but then there was the day, a misty, rainy day. Luckily my mother had bought us bright new yellow and red raincoats that fall and luckily she had a young teenaged sister who quite “hip” for the times. The crooner, the suave, the handsome, the young and probably the most famous singer of all time,

Frank Sinatra. Frank was appearing at the Sussex Avenue Armory. Filmmakers from the newspapers were there, people 4 &5 rows deep at the fence were there, and in the first row closest there we were in our bright raincoats. If you ever get a chance to see news film clips in the archives, look close, you can’t miss us in those bright raincoats. Exciting, you better believe! Even though I later got to see Frank in performance at that other place, you know where. For me that performance was not as exciting as that day when I glimpsed Frank Sinatra around the corner from my childhood home.


Email this memory to a friend.
Enter recipient's e-mail: