Weequahic Section of South Ward

by Charles Interdonato


As a result of my last writing, I was contacted by two Newark Memories’ readers - Mary Jones and Clarkie247. Mary was actually an Orphan at St. Peter’s Catholic School, and asked me if I had any more memories I could share, about St. Peters. So I wrote her most of what is contained below. Clarkie247 was nice enough to tell me that if I lived on Lyons Avenue, that I didn’t live in the Clinton Hill Section at all, but actually, the Weequahic Section of the South Ward (Thanks Clarkie)!

So, here are a few more memories of St. Peter’s. . .
I remember that during recess, on certain days, one of the sisters would bring out, what I used to call "greasy doughnuts." They were plain, round, non-filled, non-coated, fried doughnuts (or as Dunkin calls them "Donuts"). I loved them. All the children that were playing in the courtyard would run over when sister came out with them. Sister would have a large metal bowl full of them. Good eats!

I also remember the fire drills. If you were in the 4th grade, or higher, your class was on the 2nd (or was it 3rd?) floor. When we had a fire drill, all the children would have to go out the back door, and down the fire escape. I was, and still am, afraid of heights. So naturally, I didn't like the fire escape.

I seem to remember that there was a stable on the school property, and every now and again they'd let the horses (I think there were two) run in the field. Mary (mentioned above) was nice enough to inform me that their names were Blackie and Jerry (and the farmer’s name was Jack). Thanks Mary!

A funny story about transitioning from catholic school to public school. . . In 1963, my family moved out of Newark. In the new town where we lived, I attended public school. When I entered 7th grade, I attended a large (very large by comparison) middle school. As you recall, at St. Peter's, as in most elementary schools, all classes are held in the same room. When I went to public middle school (not in Newark), I remember having a "study hall" period. At the beginning of that period, the teacher would walk over to the first student, at the front row desk, closest to the door, and hand him, or her, a small square block of wood. The block of wood was about 6 inches square. After the student was handed this mysterious piece of wood, he, or she, would leave the classroom! Very curious indeed! Then after a short time, the student would return to their seat, and pass the block of wood to the student sitting behind them. Then that student would get up, and leave the classroom with the block of wood in their hand. This ritual was repeated with each successive student. Well, of course, the block of wood finally was passed to me. Not wanting to appear stupid, I simply got out of my seat, and walk out of the room. I walk around the halls for 5 minutes, then returned to my seat, and passed the block of wood to the student sitting behind me.

Can you guess what was going on? Yep, it was a "hall pass!" I had no idea what it was, nor did we ever have anything like that at St. Peter's. At St. Peter’s, if you needed to go to the bathroom, you simply waited until sister took the whole class! After a couple of days at my new school, as I started to make friends and gain the trust of some fellow class mates, I got up the nerve to ask them what that block of wood was, and where everyone was going when the got it! My friends had a pretty good laugh, at my expense, with that one!

I also remember my family's very first phone number at 387 Lyons Avenue. It was a "party-line" (remember those). Sometimes you'd pick up the phone, and the other party would be smack in the middle of a conversation. And, God forbid if it was a teenage girl! You'd never get your chance to use the phone that evening! Oh yeah, our first phone number was WA3-1618 (that's Waverly 3-1618). Don't ask me how, or why I remember that, but I do!

By the way, “Google Maps” now has a new “street view” feature. If you enter an address (i.e., “387 Lyons avenue, Newark, NJ”), you’ll see a picture of my old house. The garage is gone, the hedges too. You can actually move along the street to get all different views of different houses. Of course not all locations have “street view” pictures, but try it. It’s really cool stuff!

By the way, sixteen years after my family moved out of Newark, I was back once again; this time working at 520 Broad Street, Mutual Benefit Life (the 1st life Insurance Company in New Jersey – since 1845). I worked at MBL from 1979, until it closed it doors in June of 1999. A Very sad story, but not one for these pages.

Well, I hope you enjoyed these memories, and hope you have many memorable ones yourself.

One correction from my original “Newark Memories” entry. . . Of course my mother didn’t take us shopping at Vanity Fair, if you lived in Newark, you know I meant “Valley Fair!”

Until next time . . .


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