Best things about growing up in New Jersey towns and cities
Anyone who listens to my New Jersey 101.5 show knows how much I talk about growing up in Union City. It's even in my opening theme song performed by Mike Rocket. He actually sang it at the Stone Pony!
Union City, New Jersey is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. When I grew up there in the seventies, we once counted 50 kids in a five-block radius all within 5 years of each other. That's a lot of fives!
It all started at 17th street park where we'd gather and figure out what to do that day. Would it be punchball, stickball, touch football on West street where you had to stop when the cars interrupted the game, maybe basketball in the park or street hockey at Cristina's parking lot?
When it came to food, whatever you were looking for was within a short walk. We Italian delicatessens, pizzerias, bodegas, even a Hispanic Chinese restaurant! Our neighborhood was a combination of Hispanic and Italian and the one thing we had in common was we loved to eat. The other thing, we became in my neighborhood of fifty or so kids, one big family who looked out for each other.
It's been a long time since I lived there, but I'm hoping and like to think that somewhere up there right now on 17th street there are a group of kids experiencing the same things I did. After all these years I still keep in touch with many of those "kids" Whenever I talk about Union City in my comedy act, usually, someone in the audience will come up and want to talk more about it.
One of my biggest thrills was taking my sons on a tour with two of my best friends so that they could see where and how their father grew up as well as the firehouse where their grandfather worked.
Those are some of my memories of growing up in Union City. I asked about some of yours and here are some of the responses. What was great about this post was seeing so many people reconnecting both with their towns as well as each other.
As John Lennon once wrote and sang for the Beatles "There are places I remember" Here's to the memories of growing up in New Jersey. Salute!
"James M. Di Gioia Union City was the best. West St and 17 th st Park. Jerry Spadacini the park attendant".
"Palmyra. After a win the high school band would march around Broad St. to celebrate"
"When I moved to Hamilton Township in my 20's...and I got a job with Nassau Broadcasting. The best thing I ever did...was fill in on "The Pet Patrol". Good times"
"West Street (Union City) was great"
"The Wenonah July 4th parades!"
"Collingswood-very safe, not much crime when I was growing up in the ‘60s"
Steven John Pilat
"Before we came to Morganville.... growing up in Linden we played street stick ball, tag football in the bank parking lot, hide and seek tournaments and just sitting on the front porch!!!"
"Back in the 70’s & 80’s Carteret was like “Cheers.” Everybody knows your name. Great town back then. Your house was for sleeping and eating. The rest of the time you were outside."
"Jersey city was the birthplace of the USA we had everything food to die for and politicians who took our money .We were very lucky people and had the best neighbor's we were very diverse. You Know Steve you grew up next town over and your town was great also!"
Tina Louise Cook
"I miss the Lawrenceville Drive-In. Cute playground. Jammin Jersey Vans showing off their portable love nests"
"Everyone knowing to go home when the street lights came on"
Melynda B. Ulrich
"Willingboro in the 60's and 70's. 10 parks, 10 pools, intramural swimming and diving teams, intramural football in the fall, The Plaza, The Fox Theater and a great carnival every summer."
"Grew up in Point Pleasant Borough. Used to hitchhike to the boardwalk every day to play pool at the Holiday Arcade."
"Cruising the Deptford Mall."
"The five o clock whistle in Burlington City"
"Cowtail Bar at Hollyravine Farm & Hardees in Cherry Hill which is now Vitos with the same shaped sign, the amusement park inside Cherry Hill Mall!"
"I grew up in North Camden. Hard to believe now, but North Camden was THE middle class city in south Jersey. My parents owned a small local supermarket. Few people had a car and almost everyone walked to work at one of the many companies in the area ... too many to mention ..."
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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