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Growing up in Irvington New Jersey
The 60s..What a great time to grow up in Irvington, New Jersey
My folks moved from Newark, New Jersey to Irvington, New Jersey when I was born, 1954. What a place to spend my childhood! We lived across the street from a grammar school (not the one I attended) and across another street to the side of my house was Irvington Park. I lived in the Irvington area through my High School years and actually lived there once or twice more as I got older. It was truly a beautiful city and unlike the world of today with it's video games and computers and such, my friends and I spent very little time sitting home at a keyboard or in front of a TV holding a joystick. Especially on Saturdays. You might leave the house in the morning and get back in time for dinner. But it seemed a much safer time back then. From a very early age we walked everywhere. In grammar school, I'd meet a friend or two and walk about three miles to school every day. On the way home we'd stop into some of the stores in Irvington Center and our parents weren't worried if we were a little late. One thing that comes to mind is that during those walks to and from school, there were policemen on a lot of the busier street corners. A kind of comfort to know that they're right there. And you'd also see the Police Trikes patroling constantly. I guess that's what put the motorcycling bug in me.
Singin' Bout The Good Old Days
More Music From "The Judds"
AHHHH, the "Good Old Days"
Irvington Park was huge and had plenty of things to keep my friends and I busy after school or on the weekends. Looking at the picture, the park sloped up in four levels from the left to the ballfields four blocks away. The first level had a giant man made pond and in the summer you might find half a dozen or so people running their gas powered remote controlled boats in laps and sometimes races around the pond. The second level was large enough for more than one game of "touch" football to take place at the same time. Level three had swings and slides and other playground equipment. The top was the baseball diamonds. On the warm summer weekends besides a park full of fun-loving kids, you might find families strolling around the pond or along some of the paved walks through the park. Maybe even some picnickers enjoying the grassy areas.
Winters seemed different then. Sometimes after a good snowstorm, the slopes in the park would remain covered for days or longer and the hills got pretty crowded with sledders and tobogganers of all ages. When the pond would freeze strong enough for skating (which it did a lot) that would also last for days and you could skate all day long and even after dark when the park lights came on. There was even a small building with benches inside to change into your skates.
Baseball, Football, Ice Skating, Sledding and Bowling.
Besides all the time spent at the park playing ball in the summer and skating in the winter, I also started bowling at a very early age. At around 11 or 12 years old I joined a league and every Saturday morning my buddies and I would meet and walk to the bowling alley. 3 games and shoes--$1 !!! Then it was back home to say "hi" and back out to the park. I really enjoyed bowling back then and I've kept up with it through the years. Only recently had to give it up because of a bad knee.
A Celebrity From The Irvington School System
Jerry Lewis, one of the greatest comedians ever, graduated from Irvington High School. He was also born in Newark, New Jersey. Rumors have it that he was just as zany in the school corridors as he is in his films. Always the class clown!
Classic Jerry Lewis
So looking back at my years growing up in Irvington, I must say that they were some great times and it was truly a beautiful little town with plenty to keep a young boy busy and entertained. As we got older some of the activities changed. There were two movie theaters in town so a Saturday afternoon might be taken up by a matinee. (2 movies, cartoon and commercials !!) But there was still the ball games in the park. Only now we were a little better. Same with the ice skating.
Irvington provided a way of growing up that is hard to find in the city anymore. Not that it was crime free but I was able to spend most of my childhood being able to run in the park. Walk a couple of miles to and from school. Stay out after dark if I stayed local. Ride a bicycle all over town and as we got older, ride to neighboring towns for a change of scenery.