Three generations of the Doran family are standing on the roof of their apartment on the corner of Ferry and Jackson streets, Down Neck, Newark, New Jersey, about 1949. Standing in the back are Billy, Mary & James (sporting the cool sunglasses). In front of them are Bernie, Betty, Mary “Mamie” Mahoney Doran (1895-1961), and Margaret. Holding the bat is my cousin, ready to play ball.
Sometime after Bernard “Barney” Doran died in 1947, the family moved from Hamilton Street in Harrison to this apartment building, which is about one and a half miles away. In the 1950 Harrison & Kearny Directory, Mary A. Doran is listed as the widow of Bernard, removed to Newark; along with her children: Bernard, James, Margaret, and Peter, with the younger children not listed.
Down Neck, also called the Ironbound, is in the East Ward of Newark, hemmed in by the Passaic River, Penn Station, and Newark Airport. It is situated where the river takes a bend and makes a neck, hence the one nickname. “Ironbound” comes from the three rail-lines making a triangle of this area. The Jackson Street Bridge was one of the favorite spots, along with the Bridge Street Bridge and the docks, for the Doran boys to jump off and cool down in the river on hot summer days. My father would always point out these swimming spots when we were on the train.
Coming in off the highway from Wilson Avenue to visit, we often stopped to buy hot pretzels from the man underneath the overpass. I don’t remember my grandmother or aunts cooking – instead we ordered from the corner stores. We had fish & chips wrapped up in newspaper cones, or tomato pie from one of the pizzerias – such as my uncle’s, or Italian hotdogs smothered in a big soft hoagie with potatoes, onions and peppers. The Doran Clan knew how to have a good time, and it always included telling funny stories while eating good chow.