I never lived in Newark, but my mother
was born there in 1929 and grew up in the Vailsburg area (Dover
Street). She went to West Side High School and graduated with the
class of 1947.
Her parents were typical melting pot people - my grandmother's
parents immigrated from Denmark in 1890, and my grandfather's family
were Hungarian Germans who arrived in Newark in the mid-1880s. They
lived on West Kinney Street.
My grandfather, Ernest Jokus, was an amateur and professional
bicycle racer from 1908 to 1915. He appeared in many races at the
Newark Velodrome on South Orange Avenue but also toured the circuit
and competed in several six-day events at Madison Square Garden.
After his racing days were over he was a Newark City fireman for
about 25 years. When I was a kid my grandfather would occasionally
show me his scrapbook with all the racing programs and the clippings
from the Evening News, and I got the impression he must have been
quite the local celebrity in those days.
Although I grew up in southern California I made four or five trips
"back East" with my mother and brother so in some ways
Newark and northern New Jersey became a part of my childhood too.
I'm sure there are cousins of mine still in the Newark area, and
I wonder if there are any other descendants of Newark area bike
racers from the old Velodrome days.
I hope that part of Newark's history will be preserved somehow.