Memories of Old Newark

by Ann Marie Keim


I grew up in the Vailsburg section, on Vermont Ave, between So Orange Ave and 18th Street. I attended Sacred Heart Grammar School on So Orange Ave from '60-'68. When we would misbehave in school (heaven forbid we spoke in class!), the nuns would threaten to bring us across the street and leave us at St Mary's Orphanage!! 'one more word, young lady, and I'm marching you RIGHT across the street!!' Learning through intimidation – the way of life in a Catholic School back in the 60s!

We'd walk to school, passed Lincoln's 5 &10 and the Sanford Theater, site of MANY a Saturday monster double feature. I remember the Boylan Street pool (affectionately called the 'polio pit'), and the Alexander Street Library with its huge marble staircase.

We had a GREAT little candy store on the corner of Vermont Ave, called Mazur's, which sported a soda fountain area, complete with red swivel stools. Old lady Mazur made the BEST root beer floats. Right next to that store was John's Butcher shop, the beginnings of every bologna school lunch sandwich.

The area at the time was middle class, mostly Irish and Italian, and almost every playmates parent was either a cop or fireman! Neighbors didn't hesitate to discipline ANY of the neighborhood kids, theirs or not….it was truly a community experience.

When the parkway opened, the big Pabst Blue Ribbon bottle on top of the factory was our 'landmark' that we were almost home!

Granted, the late 60's early 70's were a tumultuous time for all, and Newark was no exception, with riots and Anthony Imperiale and his antics. Those years truly changed the flavor of 'old newark'.

Alas, I had the occasion a few years ago to revisit the homestead with my son, and it was a saddening experience to way the least.


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