I lived in Irvington, on S. 22nd Street
in a six family house owned by my grandfather, right next to Grove
Street School. My Aunt and Uncle lived in Newark on S. 20th Street,
just a few blocks away.
My memories of Newark are many – walking up 16th Avenue to
West Side Park, going to the movies at the West Side Theatre (we
were allowed to go alone as young children and sometimes stayed
to see the show twice!), taking the bus downtown to shop at Bam’s,
Hahne’s, Kresge’s and Kleins. We loved taking the bus
downtown because on the way was the Bridal Section – store
after store of beautiful bride’s and bridesmaid’s dresses
in each window.
Every Friday night we would leave for the “shore” –
Lavallette. My father worked downtown, so my Mom would pack the
car and stop to get a few “Italian Hot Dogs” –
we would pick Dad up and then head out. Those hot dogs were so delicious!
Growing up I remember the summer programs at our school that had
Mr. Potato Head (when you still used a real potato) contests, making
key chains from plastic strips we weaved, giving everyone a chance
on a swing – but counting to 100, and the open fire hydrants
for summer fun. We were never allowed to go into the hydrant water;
my mother thought we would risk polio!
I also remember the Fisher Baker man who wore a uniform and went
from house to house with his goods. There was also a knife sharpener,
a vegetable man (who had his goods on a wagon) and milk man.
On 16th Avenue, we went to the store every day – Gasiki’s
for milk, two bakeries, the beauty shop, the green grocer, the butcher
and across the street from Sacred Heart Church there was a children’s
shop. The bakeries had the best jelly donuts (have never tasted
anything like them since) and rye bread. And the candy store on
Grove Street was our favorite!
We moved in 1952 to the suburbs and our own house in Middletown
New Jersey. I can remember how hard it was for us not to have the
candy store, or get hand-packed ice cream. We moved to the place
of the big “supermarket”.
In 2002 while I was living in New York, I decided to rent a car
and drive into Newark down Springfield Avenue into Irvington. It
was so sad to see what has happened to what I remember as a beautiful,
save place to live. The astonishing thing was that all the houses
really looked exactly the same! My Aunt’s house was unchanged
(and for sale). My house had been torn down after the property was
bought by Grove Street School, but S. 22nd Street was unchanged;
and 16th Avenue was just as I remembered it structurally; but now
was boarded up.