I read with much joy and some tears about
a piece authored by Jule Weining about the Roseville Section of
Newark. While I was born and grew up in Newark, I did not live in
the Roseville Section. In Jule’s piece she mentioned May’s
Shoes on Orange Street. My father, Meyer Leibowitz, was the owner
of that store until he retired and closed the store around 1962
and prior to the unfortunate riots. As a youngster I remember taking
two buses to Orange Street so I could spend Friday night in the
store since it was the one night that the store stayed open until
9 PM. For dinner, my father would give me a couple of dollars and
I would sit at the counter at the Spic and Span Restaurant and if
I had any money left over I would go to Gruning’s Ice Cream,
also on Orange Street, for the best ice cream imaginable. My father
kept the store spotless and was very proud of the decorations he
put in both windows depending on the season of the year. Often times,
people would visit the store just to look at the window decorations.
To this day, I can still remember his customers addressing him as
He loved his local customers always asking about their families
and how they were doing and, in turn, the customers showed love
and affection for Mr. Mays.
Jule failed to mention Don Newcomb’s Liquor Store which was
across the street from my father’s store. Don was an outstanding
pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the ‘50’s. I remember
Don coming into the store one Friday night to purchase a pair of
shoes. He was a huge, well-built man, and had the largest feet I
had ever seen. My father was able to fit him with a pair of shoes
and Don was nice enough to talk a little baseball with me. That
evening, I went home on a cloud after having spoken to the great
Yes, Jule mentioned Zeman’s Clothing Store. I remember Izzy
Zeman who was the owner and the store was located a few doors down
from May’s Shoes. He always made it his business to visit
with me if I were in the store on a Friday night. Mr. Zeman was
a very nice man and I will always remember his kindness.
As I got older and during my days attending Rutgers Newark, I worked
in the store Friday nights and Saturdays. One summer, my father
took a two week vacation and left me in charge; I opened the store
in the morning and closed in the evening. It was quite an experience
for me but I was able to prove that at the age of 19 or 20 I was
able to accept this responsibility. Fortunately, I graduated from
college and pursued a professional career and did not succeed my
father in the shoe business.
To all the customers of Mays Shoes, and in particular, those that
remember “Mr. Mays”-----Thank You for your patronage.
This piece is dedicated to “Mr. Mays” and my “POP”
who gave me a sense of responsibility;
a person of great character and compassion.
May he rest in peace.