I was born at Beth Israel Hospital in 1952
and lived for the first eleven years of my life at 83 Aldine Street.
My house was a four family home built by my grandfather and uncle.
I lived on the second floor with my parents, Ben and Ceil Litwak.
Family was so important and many of my relatives lived either in
the other three apartments in the building or down the street. There
was one paying tenant actually; Rose and Willie Hoffman who lived
on the first floor right side apartment with their cat Lena. I remember
a Mr. Rabinowitz, the painter, always coming by with paintbrush
in hand, to affix some little designs on the walls of the common
hallways I have very vivid memories of my early life in Newark.
There was a bank on the corner of Lyons Avenue and Aldine, Alex's
Luncheonette, a children's store, Kritchmans, and a bakery. I also
remember Lyons Lanes, as bowling was such a popular pastime, Ming's
chinese restaurant, where chow mein was as exotic as it got back
then, and Young Israel, where I attended hebrew school. I would
walk from Chancellor Ave. elementary after school ended on Mondays
and Wednesdays down Maple Avenue, stop for a soda and red "roll
up" licorice candy (whose name escapes me) along the way. All
for ten cents. Rabbi Berkely headed the hebrew school and I also
remember having Deveret Garfinkle as one of my teachers.
Of course I also went to the YMHA, Burgerama, the Weequahic diner,
Bunny Hop and Stashes. Fabyan swim club was a summer ritual. In
so far as my mom did not drive back then (what was the need to?),
we would take a bus to the corner of Chancellor and Fabyan. The
walk down Fabyan Place to the swim club seemed endless. Probably
no more than five long blocks, but for an impatient seven year old
girl, it seemed like ten miles. On Sundays, my dad would drive us
there and play gin rummy. Mom played mah jongg every day while I
attended day camp. I remember Mr. Mark, the lifeguard, who coerced
me into jumping off the big diving board. It must have been 200
feet high!!! (or so it seemed). I also remember playing Perry Mason
, a game we invented after the tv show, with my buddies Mark Gelfand,
Henry Halpern and Alice Listman. We would win the costume competition
every summer due to our mom's ingenious ideas such as the Mah Jongg
Orphans or the Beatnicks. I remember hula hoops, green patches sewn
onto bathing suits in recognition for camp achievements, plastic
gold trophies, megaphones and the "baby" sandbox area.
There was also a creek behind the club where we kids would venture
off for an hour or so to explore every so often. Riding my Schwinn
bicycle around the neighborhood was a favorite pastime, as well
as neighborhood whip rides where candy lipstick with gold wrapping
was gifted while exiting the ride. If you were really lucky, you
also got a paper fan that opened up by separating the two wooden
sticks that attached it. Dr. Schotland (appropriately enough) made
house calls, after hospital rounds, with his black bag, penicillin
shots and lollypops.
Our shul was on Clinton Place and I do remember the men sitting
on one side, women on the other, and kids playing outside in the
backyard of the synagogue. Saturdays were spent going downtown to
Klein's and buying shoes from atop a large platform where about
200 pairs were just strewn around. Lunch was at the automat and
usually included macaroni and cheese and pickled beets?!!
Birthday parties were in the house with pin the tail on the donkey
and horns and hats. As I got a little older, there were the dreaded
trips to Dr. Kessler, my(and everyone else's) orthodontist. His
office was on Lyons Avenue, near Bergen Street, and I can still
feel the wires getting tightened in my mouth, while my eyes felt
they were going to pop out of my head.
I could go on and on.... and on