Christmas Memories & Thank You

Remembering the Past by Diane Norek HarrisonBy Diane Norek Harrison

ELIZABETH-Here are more Christmas memories “as seen through the eyes of a young child” from reader William Frolich:

“We were aware of Santa Claus and his elves at the North Pole, but how did he make all those visits to everyone’s house all in one night? In the streets downtown his helpers were busy with their bells and kettles, so who was still at work making the toys? Would they make enough for all the children? We assured that everything would turn out alright.

“One way that we were reassured was with the customary, or perhaps obligatory, trip to Newark and Bamberger’s Department Store and its sixth floor of toys. This trip was always scheduled for the day after Thanksgiving when the ladies of the house could undertake the arduous task of escorting all of the young residents of the household on this anxiously awaited expedition.

“First there was the dressing in the proper attire, which meant not wearing our old play clothes. We were expected to look better dressed than that, but not as well dressed as if for church. School clothes were considered adequate for the journey. When all ready, there was then the walk downtown in order to catch a trolley car. To our eyes one trolley was a good as another, but our escorts insisted on waiting for one that bore the number 11. On climbing aboard we found that it was necessary to drop a nickel in a tall box near the motorman and we could watch the coin as it trickled down a croaked little chute and rested at the bottom of the box.

“If we were lucky we could find a seat by the window and watch the scenery go by as the trolley car rode along its rails and made frequent stops for other passengers. Finally our escorts told us this was our stop and that it was time to get off. However, before we could depart, it was necessary to deposit another nickel in the fare box. This seemed odd, as we had already done that when we got on the trolley, but we were told that because we had come past a fare limit, it was alright to pay again to get off.”

Thanks to Mr. Frolich and I will have more memories of his in 2009.

Past Material And Memories Wanted

Thanks to my contributors for a good year with sharing your memories and past material. I can’t do this column without the help of the readers. This is a column for the readers to write in and contribute what they remember from growing up in the four towns or past material they have saved through the years.

I will try and continue this column until the end of the summer. If I don’t hear from readers with contributions then I can only assume my column is not being read or you are not interested in reading it and I will end doing it. I don’t want to just desert my column, so I am giving you all a push to keep it going.

There are so many things that went on in the past that no longer do and things were certainly different from the way they are today.

You have read my column for over four years now and you know what I am looking for. I am looking for memories or past information from St. Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July or other holidays. Have Easter memories? Where did you go to buy your Easter outfit/bonnet, see the Easter bunny, Easter egg hunts or church services? Send school, parades, events, parties, etc. Where were fireworks held in the past? I need all holiday material a month before the date. I’m also looking for summer or winter memories or past material. Seasonal and holiday material sent with regular column information will be saved and used for the appropriate time of the year.

Send past businesses, bars, years, history, locations and as much information as possible. Send the past barber shops, hardware stores, beauty parlors and other corner stores. Do you have material with what things cost in the past? Did a family member own a business? Send the info. Have you done some research of the area and want to share? I have had contributors send me memories they already had written out as part of their family history and people send me past information from their parents or grandparents time that they have saved.

I could use school memories: graduation, plays, Class Nights, holiday, sports, etc. Where were one hour photo booths located? What activities went on in the area that no longer do? Where were teen dances held or where did teenagers hang around? You could send history of past or present organizations, clubs, ladies’ auxiliaries or churches. Have historic material or who streets were named for? Stores or businesses who gave their customer little free incentives with the name of the business on them or stores that gave out S & H Green or Plaid Stamps?

Have information from testimonial or installation dinners, banquets or award ceremonies? Looking for anything from the past that you might have saved and would like to share. Have information of things done by the Works Progress Administration (WPA)?

I hope you will make a New Year’s resolution to send your past information, so I will be able to continue this column. If you already contributed and would like to add more, no problem! Hopefully I will hear from some new contributors too. Remember you name does not have to be used with information sent, but please state your wishes on your correspondence.

Send a line, two sentences, three paragraphs, four pages or more. Hope to hear from all five towns to be able to alternate all your wonderful memories of the area.

Have a wonderful holiday season and a great 2009. Hope to hear from you all with “I Remember When.” Thanks to Lisa McCormick, owner of CMD Media, and editor Paul Hadsall for their support doing this column for so long. See you next year!

If you have your own memories or past material for Clark, Elizabeth, Linden Rahway or Roselle, you can email me at or send copies of your material to me c/o CMD Media, 1139 East Jersey St., Suite 503, Elizabeth, NJ 07201.

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