November 18, 2007

Real Old Local Color.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 12:33 pm

This for peeps who lived in Newark, or in its immediate environs, as they say, “back in the day.” I was born in Newark (“Down Neck”) and grew up in a town that was a walk or bike ride away. It was often the center of family activities, as my grandmother (“Granny”), grandfather, aunts, uncles and several cousins (including Cousin Jack) continued to live “Down Neck.”

It was lifted (with a tweak or two) from the “Newark Memories” website, specifically from a piece called “You might be from Newark, if you …” by Barbara Vitale Bihus, which was sent to me by my pal, PITA. There is a treasure trove of information and memories at “Newark Memories,” including an excellent remembrance of the 1967 Newark riots, written by Cousin Jack.

Anyway, on with the show. My comments are in parentheses.

You might be from Newark, if you …

1. Have eaten at Jimmy Buff’s and loved it. (We were partial to the Italian hot dogs from a place on Ferry Street, near Jackson Street, a place with perpetually greasy windows.)

2. Shopped at Bamberger’s, Klein’s, Orbach’s, Kresge’s and Hahne’s. (Yep)

3. Went “down the shore” on your summer vacation. (Everyone did.)

4. Went “up the lake” on Sunday afternoons. (Yep, with several coolers and lots of charcoal.)

5. Have to the “feast” at least once in your childhood. (No, but do trips to the Polish Falcons Polanka count?)

6. Know where Olympic Park was. (For a time, it was my most favorite place on earth.)

7. Went to Rye Beach, or Palisades Park or Bear Mountain on your grammar school class trip. (Rye Beach and Palisades, yes, but not on class trips. I recall having been dragged to the United Nations building and herded to the Newark Museum for class trips.)

8. Wanted to be a Rockette (if you’re a girl). (My legs are too short, and, anyway, I would not have passed the physical.)

9. Wanted to be an outfielder for the New York Yankees (if you’re a boy). (Absolutely, Mickey Mantle, unless you were a Giants or *gasp* a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, in which case you wanted to be Willie Mays or Duke Snider, respectively.)

10. Knew at least one person who knew Connie Francis. (Yep. Mrs. Parkway’s uncle used to bounce Connie on his knee when she was a wee one.)

11. Knew at least one person who knew one member of the Four Seasons. (Yep)

12. Knew at least one person who knew Frank Sinatra. (No, but I know legions of peeps who worship him.)

13. Knew at least one person that didn’t know Jerry Lewis. (I don’t know anyone who knew him.)

14. Thought South Orange was in the mountains. (Yep, until I saw the Rockies and the Alps.)

15. Know what a “Ting-A-Ling” hot dog was. (Ya got me with that one.)

16. Never went through a summer without real lemon ice. (Absolutely. Adams Street, Down Neck – the real item.)

17. Were never allowed to go to the City Pools because you might get polio. (I remember it well. My friend two houses away contracted polio.)

18. Always went shopping downtown. (Yes, unless you lived Down Neck, in which case you went “uptown.”)

19. Knew where to find fresh mozzarella and home-made raviolis and sausage. (Yep)

20. Think Branch Brook Park and Sacred Heart Cathedral are the eighth and ninth Wonders of the World. (Sacred Heart – home of the mondo carillon.)

21. Realize that it takes good water to make great beer. (There were lots of breweries; most gone now.)

22. Consider anything east of Route 1; south of the airport; north of Bloomfield Avenue and west of the Parkway are not really in New Jersey. (Yep)

23. Remember the Ragman, the Iceman, The Bleachman, The Tripeman, the Beerman and the Good Humor Man. (I remember the Ragman, the Iceman and the Good Humor Man, and I know people who speak of the Bleachman. Never heard of the Tripeman, but if he was hawking tripe, I probably didn’t pay much attention.)

24. Still wish you could shop in the dime store on Springfield Avenue. (Ha! Nothing costs a dime now, and a flak jacket is recommended shopping on Springfield Avenue.)

25. Know that Breyer’s made the best ice-cream. (My mother worked there for a while. She actually hand-dunked the vanilla ice cream on a stick to make “chocolate-covereds.”)

26. Know that Ballantine made the best beer. (The best ale, for sure.)

27. Know that Tastee made the best bread. (For peanut butter and jelly, anyway.)

28. Know that Hoffman made the best soda. (Cream was my favorite.)

29. Know that Prudential made the best insurance. (Provided lots of jobs for peeps I knew.)

30. Know that the Italians lived in the North Ward; if you were Jewish, you lived in the Weequahic section; the Polish lived “down neck” and the Irish lived in Vailsburg. (Yep)

31. Can remember the finest hotels in the world were on Broad Street; the Robert Treat and the Military Park Hotel. (Yep. Park Records and the Dingleman – greatest donuts ever – were near the Military Park Hotel.)

32. Know that the poor people lived in Stephen Crane Village. (We knew those kinds of places as “The Projects.”)

33. Knew that only people on welfare went to City Hospital; everyone else went to Saint Michael’s; Saint Barnabus, and Presbyterian. (Born in St. Michael’s)

34. Are aware that there was a reservoir on South Orange Avenue. (Yep, and some peeps called it the “REZ-ah-voy.”)

35. Know what a “stoop” is. (Absolutely, and we also knew what “stoop ball” is.)

36. Think that the Adams Theater on Branford Place is bigger and better than Radio City Music Hall. (I saw the “Rolling Stones” live in, I believe, 1963 at the Adams.)

37. Think The Newark News was the world’s greatest newspaper. (We were always Newark Star Ledger peeps.)

38. Remember the Thanksgiving Day rivalries between Irvington and West Side, and Barringer And East Orange. (By the time I was old enough to pay attention to football, it was Kearny vs. Nutley – Kearny usually lost.)

39. Know that the building with Abe Lincoln sitting outside is really the Hall of Records. (Yep, not the courthouse.)

40. Don’t think of citrus when people mention “the Oranges”. (Yep, and they included the plain as well as the East, West and South variaties.)

41. Ordered a hard roll with butter for breakfast. (Still do.)

42. Remember that the “Two Guys” were from Harrison. (Yep. My mother knew one of them. His name was “Herb.” They started out in a trailer outside of the RCA plant in Harrison. My mother always called “Two Guys” “Herb’s” even when they wound up having gigantic department stores.)

43. Know what a jug handle is. (Absolutely – Get in the right lane if one is coming up.)

44. Know that ours is the only “New” State that doesn’t require the “New” (like try…Mexico, York, Hampshire; it doesn’t work.) (Yep)

45. Consider a corned beef sandwich with lettuce and mayo a sacrilege. (Or eaten on anything other than kickass rye should be a crime.)

46. Eaten a boardwalk cheese steak with vinegar fries. (Yep, and I’d include a “sausage, pepper and onion” [sandwich] as well.)

47. Never pumped your own gas. (New Jersey’s one undeniably good thing.)

48. Know where “Down Neck” is. (Born there.)

49. Know where the Bath House on Clifton Ave. is. (No, but I know where the Wilson Ave. Bath House used to be.)


50. Can actually remember when Newark was….GREAT!!!

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