North Newark Memories

by Denise Neuhaus


Do I remember Newark?!! I raised my two children in a tiny town in Massachusetts and while I was happy to do that for them, I often felt bad that they missed out on growing up in a big city.

I grew up Denise Neuhaus on Verona Avenue in Forest Hills, North Newark. We were only 2 streets away from the Belleville line. There are so many wonderful things that I treasure about my growing up years there.

I remember many wonderful things about Branch Brook Park, only a couple of blocks away. As a young girl, we would pack a lunch on Saturdays and go down to watch all the brides come in their limousines and take their wedding pictures in the park. I remember getting up the courage to go sledding down Dead Man’s Hill (or at least the little hill next to it). Of course, who can ever drive by the White Lady tree without feeling your skin crawl? I can’t remember how many summer nights I spent hanging out at the tennis courts with the gang from Forest Hills Parkway.

I loved how Newark was divided up into neighborhoods, all with their own wonderful ethnic traditions and cultures. Back in the day, if you were from “Down Neck” you were Polish, from Weequahic chances are you were Jewish and our little section of North Newark was the home of Italians. I remember my mother telling me when I was about 10, “I don’t know if you know this but we’re not Italian”. What a shock to me, the only people in North Newark who were not Italian. I look back on my friends from school and it reads like a who’s who of Italy. I loved how everyone in the city seemed to know everyone else. You could get on your bus (ours was the #27), get off at Broad & Market and catch a bus to any other section of the city. Chances are when you got there, you would bump into someone who knew your parents, your cousins, or your friends. For a huge city, I think we felt like a small town in some ways.

I graduated from Barringer High School in 1970. That was easily the best high school in the country. I still have friends that I met there in 1967 but we have lost a few over the years. We had the best marching band in the city. Saturdays spent around the city for the high school football games were awesome but the most fun was getting there and back on the bus. I know we embarrassed our conductor a million times with truly rank Barringer cheers. There was something about hot nuts and a new suit!

I can remember vividly the food of Newark. The fresh hot bread from Calandra’s Bakery on Bloomfield Avenue, the lemon ice from Ting-a-Lings, the pizza from the Woodside Pizzeria and of course our very own special invention the “Newark style Italian hot dog”. To this day, I can still taste the grease soaking into the pizza bread!

I have lived in California, Colorado, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts over the years but none of these places have ever really been home. That place in my heart goes to the controversial, teaming, energetic city of Newark, home of Joe Pesci, Frankie Valle and the Italian hot dog. What a place to call home.


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