by Diane Norek Harrison
ELIZABETH-Memories from Greg McGinty: “Coakley Circle, North End in Elizabeth, in the years 1960-1964, were very memorable times in my life growing up. Coakley Circle, during those years, was prominently black. I don’t recall how many families lived there, but, you can be sure there were many.
“What made it special to me, was that every summer in the baseball season and every winter during football season, North Elizabeth, where I lived, and predominately all white, and Coakley Circle, had met on an open dirt-filled lot and had played competitively in those perspective sports. Like professional football games one would expect to see on a Sunday afternoon, during those times we had played in some grueling games. Torn shirts, bumps and bruises, blood dripping out of our noses, twisted ankles and foot injuries were only some of the many experiences. Regardless of the weather, once the time and date were agreed upon, the game was played.
“What was so very amazing was that once the game was over and no matter who won, we would embrace and shake hands before leaving the gridiron. Fights and quarrels were out of the equation.
“Baseball games were just as competitive. Quite often we would share our equipment. No such thing as ‘yours’ and ‘mine.’ It became ‘ours.’
“These events would occur during my high school years. I had played high school football at the time and many of my black friends were on the team as well. We had opposed each other like gladiators in the coliseum, but have never lost our friendship.
“How was one to know just a few years later the riots would come into play. I was in the service in the late ’60s and had lost touch with my friends – black and white. I have never learned what became of them, but those fond memories of those football and baseball games will never be forgotten.”
If you have your own memories of the past in Middlesex or Union counties, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send copies of your past material to me c/o CMD Media, 1139 East Jersey St., Suite 503, Elizabeth NJ, 07201
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