I was born at the Beth Israel Hospital
in Newark in 1954. Both my parents were born in Newark in 1920,
and raised there by their parents, who originally immigrated to
this country from Russia and Poland in the early 1890's.
My maternal grandfather worked for the Newark News as a union
man, driving a horse-drawn delivery wagon until they upgraded him
to a motorized truck. His son, my mother's only brother, succeeded
him in this career until the paper folded for good.
My dad's father supported his wife and three kids by selling fruits
& vegetables from a pushcart in Newark, although he had retired
from this endeavor by the time I was born.
My earliest memories are of visiting my grandparents in their
house on Harding Terrace, a block up from Bergen Street. I lived
on Clark Street in Hillside until I was four, and then we moved
to a new house in Westfield. Every Sunday afternoon, we would pile
into my dad's car and make the trip into Newark.
If my grandmother didn't cook us Sunday dinner, we would head
over to Chancellor Avenue after our visit. I ate many a steamed
corn beef sandwich, piled high on fresh rye bread, which I would
slather with mustard from the little pot on the table. For dessert,
as a special treat, we would stop at Watson Bagel, buy a bag of
hot salt bagels, and devour them in the car on the way home.
Activities at my grandfather's house every Sunday afternoon were
not that exciting for a young child. There were no video games.
To pass the time, my cousins and I would raid my grandfather's wooden
cases of blue seltzer bottles, and have seltzer fights. If you shook
it up good, you could fire it ten feet. My grandfather also had
a big peach tree in the back yard, but he didn't tend it, so another
game was to pick up the rotting peaches from the ground and throw
them at the neighbors' garage.
When Sunday evening rolled around, it was always time for the Ed
Solomon Show. That's what my grandfather called it. My first exposure
to rock & roll was on my grandfather's old console TV. First,
Elvis, and later the Beatles, the Dave Clark Five, and, my favorite,
the Rolling Stones. It all happened in Newark.