My brother Bob and I grew up in the coal
region in PA till i was nine, he was seven. When the mines started
closing in PA our father got a job driving busses for city service
in Newark. We ended up moving into the Columbus Homes projects in
The house we had moved from had no running water inside, we used
a outhouse for a bathroom, and heated water on a wood stove for
baths in a tin tub. I can remember the first time we moved into
our apartment, it was 6 F at 12 Sheffield Dr. I couldn't believe
it, we had a tub with running hot water, and ,wow, a toilet we could
flush, and steam heat that got so warm you needed to open the windows
at times in the coldest winter days. My brother and i thought it
was grand .
We soon found out making friends at first wasn't so easy for two
hicks from PA. After a couple fights and learning to stand up for
ourselves, we did start meeting friends as time went on. These friends
would turn out to be the best i could ever have wanted.
We went to school at MCKINLEY, and church at ST. LUCYS. Father
NATIVO turned out be the priest who would keep me in line if my
mother called him and said i was giving her trouble. My mother and
father had divorced by the time I was eleven but my mom had swore
she would never move my brother and I back to the coal region in
PA. By that time my brother and I loved the city and my mom had
a job in a electronic shop on 7 th Ave. She had met many women in
our building and other buildings that were in the same situation,
MRS. OBRIEN, MRS. MULLIGAN, & MRS. JONES to name a few. They
all seemed to be moms of my friends. I now figure that's how they
kept tabs on us. The families in the projects had a bond.
We were supposed to be the poor people, but our moms always made
sure we didN't go without, although they did many times. It was,
i feel, a great neighborhood to learn and grow up in .
I ended up in the navy in July of 1969. MULLIGAN and I joined together
on a 180 day program in May of that year. When i left ,the gang
i hung around with, used to meet my mom down at the LACAWONNA TRAIN
STA. wHere her bus would leave her off to walk back to the projects.
Things were getting bad by then with drugs and stupid thugs, but
my mom always wrote me to tell me she felt safe with my friends,
all who had know her from early years of our childhood. In my younger
years i remember the dances at the civic center of the projects
and the project cops who would take us to our apt. if we got in
trouble, and let our parents take care of the punishment .
OH damn i could go on and on. It was a GRAND NEIBORHOOD with a
great diversity .
TO ALL WHO GREW UP IN THIS NEIBORHOOD , THANK FOR THE MEMORIES