I grew up in
and I’m proud of it. Jersey City Jersey City is home to Ellis Island (and you thought that it was in NYC), so lots of immigrants conveniently came up the hill after their long sailing to start their new life in this country. was teeming with immigrants when I was young. My maternal grandmother, Ruth (I called her Nanny) was born in Jersey City , as was my mother. My maternal grandfather grew up there, coming over from Jersey City New York, and met my grandmother in childhood when they lived in the same apartment building in downtown . My dad was born in the next town, Jersey City Bayonne, but when they married, my parents settled in , in my grandparent’s home, to raise my older brother and me. Back in the mid-fifties, when I was born, the world, and Jersey City Jersey City, was a different place than it is today. It was safe for kids to go outside to play. My brother was on our street, Harrison Avenue, playing touch football, stoop ball or stick ball and there were loads of kids on the block to play with, starting with my cousin Charlie, who lived downstairs. I didn’t do sports, but outside I was, playing jacks, hopscotch or jump rope. I had a bike, but my mother wouldn’t let me ride it off the sidewalk and she wouldn’t let me ride it around the corner either, so it was pretty limiting just going from my house to the corner and back by bike. Barely enough room on the sidewalk to make a u-turn. Around the corner was the bank, the post office, a little grocery store where we kept a running tab in a composition book, the dry cleaners and the best place of all, Sol’s candy store, which also had ice cream, comic books and small toys. I was proud when my overprotective mother finally allowed me to do some household errands and let me walk unescorted to these stores. I had a happy childhood in , living upstairs from my doting grandparents and having loads of family and friends in the area. Jersey City
But the world changed in the 60’s after JFK was assassinated. There were racial riots, civil unrest from segregation and unsafe streets.
Jersey City, like many urban areas, had white flight, though my family stayed as my family had a business in . My high school, Jersey City , was in a geographically segregated side of town. And though I had no problems in high school, I was in the minority and in those days, we were taught to stay with our own kind. But I have good memories of Lincoln as well of the Jersey City Jewish Community Center where I made many friends from different schools in Jersey City and Hoboken. Lincoln High school
My parents eventually moved to
in 1972 and after my grandparents passed away, the house on Bayonne Harrison Avenue was given to my cousin Charlie. Charlie and I lost touch 30 years ago when our mothers had a falling out, but I believe when he sold the house in the 1980's, he didn’t get much for it citing the decline of . The house was an old Victorian from the late 1890’s. Originally a one-family home when my grandfather purchased it in the early ‘40’s, Grandpa had it divided into a 3-family, with my family on the second floor and Mr. & Mrs. Campbell, long-time renters on the third (illegal) floor. Illegal because it had no stove--the Jersey City cooked on a hot plate! Campbells
Harrison Avenue this past summer and viewed the ol’ homestead from the outside. It’s been updated and it seems to have a basement apartment now too. (I used to consider the basement a dungeon because it was soooooo cold and scary. It also had a bulkhead cellar door to get into the basement from the backyard and I'm sure that's been updated). I’m happy to know the home is in good hands.
|my Jersey City childhood home on Harrison Avenue with the green shingles now replaced by vinyl siding|
Jersey City is the hot place to live, mostly in the , “waterfront” area, but also elsewhere near the PATH train entrances. I remember the first luxury apartment being built along the waterfront decades ago and thought “Why would anyone want to live near the Holland Tunnel?” Boy, was I wrong. With Newport New York City, Brooklyn and Hoboken (a story in itself) being overcrowded and overpriced, Jersey City has become "little ." My older daughter, Broccoli Baby and her new husband (now given a cruciferous moniker), Dr. Kale, looked for a rental in Manhattan recently. Even though I know Jersey City is popular with the young, hip crowd, I was astonished that my kids were brought back to the place of my youth and for that matter, my mother’s youth and my grandparent’s youth. Though Broccoli Baby and Dr. Kale didn’t settle on anything yet, it’s still pretty cool to know that Jersey City Jersey City could potentially be the home of my grandchild, keeping our heritage going strong. I'll be brushing up on my jump rope skills!! Jersey City