Also going back in my memory I would like to stop here and regress back to when I was living at home at 363 North 12th Street and then moving to Wainwright Street my parents wanted me to go to Hebrew school. There wasn’t any Hebrew school that would take me. So my aunt Essie who lived in Pleasantdale had a Rabbi named Mosesen who said that he would teach me privately so I could make a bar mitzvah up in his synagogue in West Orange. He taught me and I made my bar mitzvah up in West Orange. Also my aunt Essie and uncle Harry had a home in West Orange and all through the years that I was going to Hebrew school and going to West Orange I would cut their grass for extra money. When I cut their grass my uncle Harry had a brother, George Sausen, who lived directly in back of him and their lawns were connected to one another. I would cut his lawn and George’s lawn and I would have money that I could spend on anything that I wanted.
Also, I’d like to add that when I was cutting grass for my Uncle Harry and George Sawson, I met a fellow there, that we became lifelong friends. Tali Lipton was an orphan, and his aunt was running an orphanage up in West Orange. And she took care of him and his sister, and we became lifelong friends until he passed in California, which was a very sad day for me.
I always had a job, always doing something when I was younger. Also, at that age, after I made my bar mitzvah and we were living at 147 Wainwright Street I got a job with Good Humor. I used to pedal a bike from Springfield Avenue to the Weequahic section up and down hills, pumping that bike and selling ice cream. I made a pretty good dollar doing that job. But it also raised havoc with my knees.
The other thing I’d like to partake is that when I was a young boy, I used to go across the street to the shoemaker, Joe. And Joe had a little pinball machine that you’d put a penny in and you’d play. And I loved that pinball machine. I used to spend a lot of time playing the pinball machine in Joe Shoemaker’s shop. I made very good friends with Joe. And when Joe was closing up his shop, he knew I loved that machine, and he gave me that pinball machine, which was mechanical. And I had that for a long time in my cellar. And I gave it to my daughter, Donna, who in turn re-furbished the machine. And it’s now hanging on a wall in her home in Riverdale.
When I was a young man and I was living on Wainwright Street in Newark, I got a job at the RKO Proctor’s on Market Street. I did everything from being an usher to being a footman outside, immediate seating, all parts of the theater. Also, when you came in, I would take your tickets and say, “Take the elevator to the right, immediate seating in the balcony.” And also, we had a second theater and that would show the same picture at a different time. If the movie got crowded, which it did on the weekends, we opened up the second theater and I would say, “Take the elevator to the right and go to the second theater, to see the same picture.”
I stayed at the RKO Proctor’s for a few years. And by the way, everybody might think that there was a lot of money those days. When I worked those days, I was working for 50 cents an hour. That was a great pay. From there, I went to the burlesque show on Market Street and worked in the burlesque show for a good many years. Even after I met Bonnie, I was still working in the burlesque show. And Bonnie always said, “Do not tell my mother that you’re working in a burlesque show, because if you tell her you’re working in a burlesque show, I won’t be able to go out with you.” So my wonderful mother-in-law never knew that I was working in a burlesque show in Newark.
I had many jobs in different things. And I also worked, as a young man, in a grocery store, across the street from 147 Wainwright Street for Joe Pfeffer. I worked for him for a long time while I was going to school. After I got out of school, I went to work in Newark in an Exxon gas station as a mechanic. I worked there for a while. And then Joe said that his son, I used to see him when I went home on Wainwright Street, had Bigelow Motors in Belleville. So I went to work for Joe in Bigelow Motors in Belleville.
One of my jobs also, when I was living on Wainwright Street with my mother and father, they had a friend that had a clothing business in Newark on Prince Street. Prince Street was a predominantly black area, 99% black area. And he had this store there. And I went to work for him in that area.
I worked there for six months to a year and I could not tolerate the way he treated people. He would take advantage of black people. He would sell them a hat at one price one week and then they would go out and lose it. And they’d come back after working a week and sell them another hat, and he’d get more money. Kids come in for mother’s day, I can remember vividly, and want to buy handkerchiefs for their mother. And if it was handkerchiefs that, if people bought, say $10, he’d give them a handkerchief. And he would overcharge them. I said, “Enough is enough. And I have to leave this job. I have to, even if I do without a job, I’m leaving this job.” So I left the job. And also when I was at that job, there was a place across the street that had a speaker outside and they’d put How High the Moon. They played that so much that I can’t stand to hear that song ever, ever again. But I left the job. I’ll sign off for today and I’ll come back with a few more memories.