Didn't grow up in Newark, but next door
in East Orange. Dad, 9 brothers, 3 sisters did. Several Uncles and
cousins were Newark Fire and Police. Some still are.
Our family life revolved around Newark; Grandma and Grandpa, (retired
Newark Fire Dept), raised 13 kids mostly in Vailsburg. Both passed
away in the 1940's and left behind a great heritage.
Our family functions were often held in a second floor "function
room" above Malloys Tavern, in Vailsburg. Too many nieces and
nephews to fit in anyone's house!
I remember when the men of the local Knights of Columbus pitched
in with free labor to turn the old Vailsburg Post Office into their
new club house or post. My Dad and Uncles were there allot. They
sponsored me in the Soap Box Derby around 1964 or so. It was held
on Central Avenue, I think.
Almost all the "grownups" were descendants of Irish or
Italian immigrants. Though the two groups had their differences;
these were never put on display in front of the kids. You were taught
you DAMN SURE show respect regardless if the grownup was Mr. Giordano
or Mr. O'Malley! In their own way these tough old birds taught us
"diversity" if you will. We had ethnic pride, to be sure;
but the big lesson was you were an American FIRST! None of the hypersensitivity
I left New Jersey in 1970 to join the Marines. I was gonna get
drafted anyway, so I enlisted. Ended up doing 23 years, and retired
in California in 1994. I owe so much of my success to the good,
humble, and decent people of Newark and it's environs. The one's
that raised my generation. They had endured the Depression, then
WWII. Came home and forged the most prosperous nation ever known.
Coached us in Little League, led us as Scouts. Supervised our CYO
dances and took us to Mass. But most important; they gave us the
example of the exemplary lives they led.
There is something unique to those of us shaped by the Newark experience,
even if, like me, you lived close by, not in, the grand old town.
An attitude. The lesson you got that whining is never acceptable.
Roll up your sleeves and pitch in. It was mostly passed on not by
words, but by the day to day example of those wonderful old timers
that raised us all.
Being from there, I was never adrift or at a loss. Despite some
very trying times. Only 18 when I left home; I was prepared nonetheless.
I will always be profoundly grateful that I hail from the place
I come from.