I am writing this memory in response to
Charles McGrath's memory of the Ivy Hill Apartments.
I lived in the apts. for 6 years; from 1st grade until 6th, 1960
to 1966. I haven't read all of his posts, but I did read about Charles'
interest in the Native Americans who lived there. I remember studying
about the Leni Lenape Indians in elementary school. My school was
within walking distance from the Ivy Hill apts. Passing a park on
the way, I remember a teacher saying that the Leni Lenape Indians
had built a fence or something that still remained, and was close
to the school. I have a foggy memory of that fence, and I also remember
that there was some sort of "insane asylum" behind the
I hope you don't mind if I share some of my memories with you....All
sorts of horrible things happened at Ivy Hill. I was a haunted child;
living in terror. When I was about 7 yrs. old, a woman jumped off
the roof of 35 Manor Dr., our apt. building. I happened to be looking
out of our 2nd floor window, and saw the body actually bounce on
the landing above the entrance to the apt. building. The landing
was only several feet from the window. My mother lied and told me
that it wasn't a real person, that it was a dummy that landed there.
I knew that she was lying, even at 7.
News and rumors spread around the Ivy Hill apts. all of the time.
The day after the girl jumped, everyone was talking about the pregnant
Catholic girl who took her own life. I remember the playground at
Ivy Hill. There were benches, where the "old people" sat.
I remember a particular woman, who had burns all over. She would
bring out a box of trinkets and the kids (including me) would look
through them, while she sat there and cried. She scared me to death,
but her trinkets must have been interesting to a kid.
There was a teen who had no arms, only stumps. I think his name
was George. It's amazing that I can remember his name. He always
had a transistor radio hanging from one of his stumps. He would
chase the kids, (me included) all around the apartments. It was
rumored that his mother kept him locked away for his entire childhood.
Interesting note: Many years later, when I was in High School in
Maplewood, NJ, an assembly was held by a doctor who worked at a
Rehab. hospital. He showed slides of the work they did there. I
was shocked to see pictures of the armless teen, with new prosthetic
arms. I was glad that he got some help.
I also remember stories about a nearby asylum. I wonder if there
really was one there. Do you know anything about the possibility
of an asylum near the Ivy Hill apts? There were always scary stories
told about what went on there.
I was petrified of the incinerators at Ivy Hill. It was my job
to take out the trash, and I would pray that the hallways didn't
smell like smoke. If they did, I knew that they'd be burning trash,
and I'd have to look down the long shoot as I emptied and pushed
the trash down. I remember sparks flying up from the fire below.
I was afraid of fire, and thought that hell was down there.
I remember ambulances and fire trucks at the apts. on a regular
basis. I was scared to go into the apt. building; petrified that
I'd see the fire. I thought the incinerator caused all of the fires
there, and I was sure our apt. would be on fire one day. When I
was about 8 years old, I was in an elevator that got stuck. I was
alone with adults I didn't know. Someone pushed the alarm, and a
man tried to get the doors open. I remember the people panicking,
not paying any attention to me. The man finally got the elevator
doors open. My horror grew, when I saw that there was a brick wall
blocking the exit. I shook all over; looking at the brick wall with
the alarm whaling.
After a few years, we moved to the 8th floor of the same apt. building.
I remember being able to look out and see downtown Newark far in
the distance. I remember that there was a large soda bottle (building?)
in the distance. My mother worked in downtown Newark, and I remember
the riots that went on there. My friends and I slept under our beds,
in fear that the riots would come to Ivy Hill.
I never told my mother how petrified I was living there. My single
divorced mother had lots of her own problems, so I kept quiet.
The basement of the Ivy Hill apts. was also a place of horror for
me.(It was where the laundry rooms were). I can't remember what
scared me so much about the basement, except that it was very dark.
I was pretty much on my own when I lived there, and do have a few
good memories. I liked the nearby park, and remember ice skating
there, as well as going to dances that were held in the summer.
During 6th grade, my mother took me out of school, and we moved
to So. Orange(1966), into a one bedroom "garden apt."
on Valley St. It was a good move for me, and I was no longer afraid
of my environment. However, my memories of the bad times while living
at Ivy Hill have never left me. I have never written any of this
down before. I hope you don't mind me telling you all of this.
I liked the new Garden Apts. in So. Orange, despite the fact that
I learned that I was living on the "wrong side of the tracks."
I loved South Mountain Reservation, and remember when they had deer
in paddocks there. So. Orange was a fun place to live at that time.
The Village was within walking distance, and they had Grunnings
Ice Cream, and a hippie store called "The Closet." I remember
swimming on So. Orange Ave. whenever it flooded. The water was so
deep, canoes paddled down the new "river."
I loved the old trains that went into Hoboken; with their wicker
seats, with backs that could be pushed to face a different direction.
I loved Maplewood park, and So. Mountain Reservation. I'm actually
very nostalgic about that place during that time. I had good friends,
and there was a lot to do. When I went back there, about 5 years
ago, everything had changed. The reservation wasn't safe any longer,
the Village was no longer the quaint place it had been, and Columbia
HS had major locks on lots of the rooms.
Someday, I'd like to see the Ivy Hill Apts, and environs. Perhaps
I can face down my deep fears about that area. I haven't been there
At any rate, I enjoyed the posts that Charles put up on the Newark
site, and look forward to reading more of them. I suppose the Leni
Lenape Indians were the Native Americans who made the paths that
you mentioned and showed on your map. I wonder when the last of
them were forced off their land. Do you know if the tribe exists
anywhere in the west?
Wow...I'm sorry for such a long memory! I'd be happy to hear about
any memories you'd like to share.