Never Catch Rabies in the Ironbound

by Ray Drozd


My 88 year-old Mom reminded me of the highlight of 1959. It was a typical hot, Newark summer. Every Newarker has experienced and remembers them. During the day, you could smell the hot tar from apartment house roofs being resealed, hear the sounds of the jack hammers as the Water Department crews did underground repairs, and listen to the periodic sound of jet engines as the new, revolutionary Boeing 707's were now landing at Newark Airport ( perhaps a half dozen a day ). Eleven years of age was a difficult period. Too young to notice girls, too old to keep yourself meaningfully occupied.

The day was BORING..... totally uneventful, until quitting time at COTAN, a vinyl manufacturing factory taking up 90% of the block comprising Oliver, Pulaski, and Chestnut Streets, and Elm Road. At the 5:00 PM quitting whistle, the dozens of workers, who normally made a bee line for the nearest Gin Mills, were scattering in all directions. "RABID DOG !" Before I could take it in, I was scooped up by a neighbor, Joe Klimek, and thrown into the hallway. "STAY PUT" ! Of course, I waited 30 seconds and went outside again.

Ten or fifteen minutes later a patrol car shows up. The older Cop tells the younger one to lasso the dog, which is running in circles and dropping to the ground every now and then. Believe it or not, on the third or fourth try, he succeeds, and ties the dog to a tree. The crowd gathers. The two policemen confer on the front seat of the patrol car after talking to the Third Precinct on the radio. The older Cop gets out of the car and crosses the street to Sid's Deli, and comes back with a pound of Bologna, in wax paper. ( 19 cents a pound....). He gets to within 10 feet of the dog and tosses the Bologna to the dog. The dog wolfs it down and "KABOOM", he is dispatched by the older Cop with his .38 revolver. Everyone stares at him as he holsters his gun. Not a word is spoken until he says: "Even a dog is entitled to a last meal".......

The adults quickly dispersed to toast Newark's Finest at their favorite watering holes, while the dozen or so kids lingered. The older Cop pulled out a handkerchief, removed his hat and wiped the liner. Pointing the hat at the kids, he quietly said "Don't ever catch rabies kids"..........

Now that was a summer !!!!

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