Newark Memories

by Joan Beihl


I was born in Newark at St. Michael's Hospital in 1935

The first home I remember was on Wright St.# 93. It was between Frelinghuysen Avenue and Pennsylvania Ave. There was a fire house on the corner of Wright Street and Frelinghuysen Ave. Across, on the opposite corner was a grocery store. Mr. Hirsch was the owner.

I attended St. Columbia's Grammar School which was located on Pennsylvania Avenue and Thomas St. The school,for its time, had many interesting features. It was a three story structure. On the first floor was a beautiful gym which included a stage. It was there that many assemblies were held. Funny, I can remember vividly, it was on a May day. We were all assembled by class to practice the hymns for Sunday mass. A great wind came up and blew thru the auditorium, knocking the flag on the stage over. It crashed with such a sudden bang, that there was a loud screaming reaction by the children. The nuns were not too happy with our reactions.

There also was a cafeteria in the basement. There were small clusters of tables where we had lunch. A woman by the name of Mae ran this luncheon. On the weekends, this room became a "club" for the adults where many adult activities were held. Once TV started to come on the scene, St. Columbia's put a TV in this room. Saturday nights were "date" nights for our parents where they watched the Syd Caeaser Show. In another section of the basement was a two lane bowling alley. The men of the parish held their bowling leagues here. So much of the social life of the day centered around the church in your neighborhood.

When I was twelve years old, my parents sold the Wright St. house and we moved to an apartment complex on Sherman Avenue. Lincoln Park became our playground.

Since I was now considered old enough to venture out on my own a little, I began to learn about "shopping"(HAHA). My friend and I would walk "down town" to the big department stores. The shopping district was identified by such stores as Bamberger's (now Macy's), Kresge's Dept Store, Hahne's Dept Store, Sterns, McCrorys 5 and,10, and many more which I have now forgotten.

When I turned 16, my first job was in the Kresge Store's credit department, where I typed up the little metal charge cards for customers. Banging out the names on the charge plates sure was noisy.

We left Newark when I was seventeen, the push was on for the suburbs. But, many wonderful memories still remain of that once great city. We attended movies on a Saturday at the Cameo theater...a neighborhood theater...double features, with cartoons..all for $.25. For the big time outings we went to the shopping district where we attended the BIG SHOWS at the Paramount for .75¢. The big news of the week was shown here with updates on the scenes from WWII.

Now Newark lays claim to NJPAC....nice to see this addition to a great place of happy memories.


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