Memories Of Mr. Frolich's Early Youth

pastBy Diane Norek Harrison

ELIZABETH-These memories are from reader William Frolich:

Some of my earliest memories go back to when I was about two or three years old. By this time the family was living at 567 Morris Avenue in Elizabeth, although when the house was purchased, it was actually in Union Township. At some time shortly after we moved in, the boundary line between Elizabeth and Union was shifted slightly, and we again lived in Elizabeth without even moving.

At some time around 1929, when all the curb-side trees on Morris Avenue were cut down and the street was widened and re-paved, the house numbers were also adjusted, and we lost that consecutive number and acquired 571 and 573. The widening and re-paving project stopped just in front of our house and only one tree was left standing, and that one was in front of the Lochers house.

I have strong memories of that lone tree being hit in two separate accidents. Both were caused by cars coming out of Cherry Street and merging carelessly into the traffic on Morris Avenue. The first accident involved a touring car with two couples in it, who were traveling, perhaps on vacation. The right front wheel was badly damaged, as the three wooden spokes were broken and useless. However, this was in the days when many cars had wooden spoke wheels, and all motorists carried tools and spare parts.

The accident happened near the middle of the afternoon, and no one was seriously hurt. The two men jacked up the car and removed the broken wheel and brought it into the back yard of the Lochers house. The two women rested in the yard as the men worked on the wheel, and the Lochers welcomed them as unexpected guests.  I watched as the men worked on the wheel, but it was bedtime and they were still working. In the morning they were gone. Motorists in those days had to be self-sufficient, and these travelers seemed to know how to take care of themselves.

 The other accident involved a Number 8 bus that had replaced the trolley car which had run between Summit and Elizabeth. Just as this bus, coming from Summit, approached Cherry Street, a car came out of that street into Morris Avenue, and the bus driver had to swerve to avoid a collision. He missed the car, but went head-on into the only tree on Morris Avenue. We all heard the noise of the crash, and went to see what had happened. The front of the bus was badly damaged, and the driver suffered some cuts and was a bit bloody. There were only a few passengers on board and none of them seemed to be more than shaken up. An ambulance came and took care of the casualties, and a wrecker towed the bus away.

 Before buses replaced the trolley, there had been a set of tracks in Morris Avenue, and a small four-wheeled yellow car would take a passenger to the middle of Elizabeth and beyond. From the Arches to Andres’ house on Morris Avenue, the tracks were double as that had been the Elizabeth city limit. A “Y” connected the two sets of rails at that point so that a trolley arriving at the end of the line could switch over to the other side of the road for the return trip. In front of our house was a single set of tracks in the center of the street and this set met the “Y” connection, although the trolley car from Summit did not use the double tracks.

 The car that passed in front of our house was usually called “the woods car” because it turned off of Morris Avenue at Kean’s farmland and disappeared into the woods and did not emerge until it reached a point just opposite the present entrance to the shopping area just south of Route 22. A motorist waiting at the traffic light at the exit from the stores can still see the long dirt ramp amidst the trees across from Morris Avenue where the tracks used to lead down from the higher ground to the side of the avenue and continued to Union. There was only one house at that point at Morris Avenue, and I used to think it was quite convenient to have public transportation right in front of where you lived.

 If you have your own memories or past material for Clark, Elizabeth, Linden or Rahway, 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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