open house

by Margaret Tsuda

Image: Integrity House
Image: Integrity House

The house is

(To Integrity
young men/women
free-willed but anxious
off the streets
own desire for
speed  pot  junk.)

The bright-faced
youngsters who
welcome us to
their Open House
show us
proudly how
they have
redeemed discards
dingy rooms with
bright paint
earnest sweat

admire ingenuity
neatness and order
to a rock combo
sample a
home-baked cake.
My mind
goes back
to an alley by a movie theatre
I used to pass on my
way to work early mornings.
Four junkies
three men and a woman
met there to wait
to wait shivering
        for a fix.
They were gaunt
unbelievably gaunt
sucked dry
like the pale
skins of cockroaches in a
neglected cupboard.

The quietly pleasant
young man who
has been showing us
presses my hand
Thank you for coming.”

My eyes are
tight and hot
with tears.
For that instant
my hope for him
burns as fiercely as
his own must have.

For almost half a century Newark’s Integrity House has facilitated recovery from substance abuse and addiction, making its home in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Integrity House was only a few years old when Margaret Tsuda paid a visit and wrote this poem, published in her 1972 collection Cry Love Aloud.

dream pictures

by Edward S. Rankin

Image: Lee Gallery
Image: Lee Gallery

Before an open fire I dozed and dreamed;
        The light from shaded lamps was soft and low,
And in the burning coals strange pictures seemed
        To form and change and vanish in the glow.

I looked upon a range of hills, their summits tinged
        With early dawn; while at their feet the forest slept.
Beyond, a river wound, its lower reaches fringed
        With meadows green.  No sign of life I saw except
Where near a brook, within the sheltering wood,
A little group of Indian wigwams stood.

The picture changed—the sun had risen now—and where
        The deerskin wigwams once had stood a village lay.
Men stern of face and clad in sober garb were there,
        Who calmly faced the task of each recurring day.
The morning sunlight bathed in radiant flood
The rude log church, the temple of their God.

Again a change—the sun rode high—and now before
        Me lay a city stretching far and wide, and through
Its busy streets went hurrying throngs, and more and more
        It spread, until its limits passed beyond my view.
And over all the scene the purple haze
From smoking chimneys told of prosperous days.

High noon—but now the glowing coals began to fade,
        I dimly saw the hillsides clothed with homes of men,
Broad avenues, and parks where happy children played,
        While all the lowlands teemed with industry.  And then
The ashes paled, but in their dying gleams
I glimpsed the future city of our dreams.

Edward S. Rankin served the city of Newark as Chief Engineer of Sewers and Drainage from 1903 to 1945. With his consummate knowledge of the city’s topography and hydrography he produced two books, Indian Trails and City Streets (1927) and The Running Brooks, and Other Sketches of Early Newark (1930).

“Dream Pictures” was composed in 1926 for Founders’ Day, May 21, and first printed in the Newark Sunday Call on May 23.

“don’t knock here nomore ’cause i done voted”

by Betty H. Neals


Election Day, Newark, N.J., June 16, 1970

We went on foot
and in cars,
in hallways and bars
calling the people to vote.

In one building
a knotted string tied to a card
hung on the door:

        “Don’t knock here nomore
        ’cause I done voted!
        Yes, voted for the 1-A team,
        don’t want to lose this loaded dream.
        Let’s clear the air
        ’bout whether Black folks can unite.’

        “Don’t knock here nomore
        ’cause I done voted.
        Since early morning
        workers came to see to that.
        Marched us down to the voting poll
        and said, ‘Let’s try once more with Soul!’
        Let’s clear the air
        ’bout whether Black folks can unite.

        “Don’t knock here nomore
        ’cause I done voted.”
        This knotted string tied to
        a card hung on the door.
        “Our people have the spirit now,
        Gon’ let nobody turn us ‘roun’
        Let’s clear the air
        ’bout whether Black folks can unite.”

Defeating incumbent Hugh Addonizio in a runoff election, Kenneth Gibson became the first African American mayor of a large northeastern city. Through daunting social, economic and political challenges, Gibson would serve four consecutive terms as Newark’s mayor.

Betty Neals’s portrayal of the historic 1970 vote was published in her collection Spirit Weaving.


from the graveyard of the First Presbyterian Church

Image: Engraved
Image: Engraved

Death once more has been among us
        Our beloved friend is gone
Who was near and dear unto us
        Thus we’re falling one by one.

–epitaph of William Baldwin, aged 61 years


Lo! on a narrow neck of land
Twixt two unbounded seas we stand
        Yet how insensible!
A point of time–a moment’s space 
Removes us to yon heavenly place
        Or shuts us up in Hell.

–epitaph of William Hughes, aged 24 years


Far from afflictions, toil and care
        The happy soul has fled
The breathless clay shall slumber here
        Among the silent dead.

–epitaph of Catharine Garret, aged 56 years 8 months


So fades the lovely blooming flower
Sweet smiling solace of an hour
So soon our transient comforts fly
And pleasures only bloom to die

–epitaph of Mary W. Hay, aged 3 years 3 months


These verses are taken from a manuscript volume in the New Jersey Historical Society. They were copied in the nineteenth century from gravestones in the burial ground of Newark’s Old First Church, now the site of the Prudential Center.

on the roads to newark bay

by Frank J. Urquhart

Image: Library of Congress
Image: Library of Congress

Near the old lighthouse pagoda, lookin’ northward from the Kills,
There’s a clumsy bridge a-squattin’ where the Bay wash backs and fills;
And its serried ranks of piling in close order grimly stand
While they buffet back the waters from the swiftly heaping sand.

        On the roads to Newark Bay,
        Where the iron horses neigh,
        Where the meadow grasses murmur o’er the muskrats at their play;
        On the roads to Newark Bay,
        Where the railroads have their way,
        And the locomotives thunder, Eastward, Westward, night and day.

It is thirty years and over since those wooden soldiers filed,
Sent a-scoutin’ by the Central when the people were beguiled
Into thinkin’ ’twas campaignin’ for a year and a day—
But they stuck, those wooden soldiers did, for they’d been sent to stay.

        “Temporary,” Central said;
        “Open bridge, high overhead.
        “We will build a little later”—yes, they will, when we are dead;
        On the roads to Newark Bay,
        Where the railroads hold their sway,
        Where the regiments of piling shoulder closer day by day.

Go ye up beyond the marshes, where the river reaches low,
Where ten thousand steamy bannerets announce the toil below;
Where the forge fires’ labored breathings throb in rhythm with the roar
Of a city hard at making things beside the oozy shore.

        Go ye up from Newark Bay,
        Where they wait a better day,
        When the tides shall team with traffic on a deep, free waterway;
        When our craft shall seaward wing,
        And the coasters commerce bring;
        And the flags of many nations midst our factory smoke shall fling.

We are sick of wastin’ language on the men that rule the rail;
For ’tis wheels, not keels, they’re runnin’, and our pleas do not avail;
Though the West beats at our gateway, cryin’ “More room to the sea!”
And the deep calls to the river, “Come ye closer unto me.”

        Smilin’ face but clawlike hand;
        Law! too well we understand;
        They would rule upon the waters as they dominate the land.
        On the roads to Newark Bay,
        Where the railroads have their way,
        And the locomotives thunder, Eastward, Westward, night and day.

By 1892, three railroad companies—the Central of New Jersey, the Pennsylvania, and the Lehigh Valley—had bridged Newark Bay. This boatmen’s reproach of the rail barons appeared in the Newark Sunday Call of November 24, 1907, four years before the opening of direct passenger service to Newark from Manhattan.


by Minnie J. Reynolds

A hundred years he slept beside
The meadows with their salty tide;
Without, the century rushed and screamed—
But still he slept, and never dreamed.

The bees buzzed round him where he lay;
The honied scent of new-mown hay
Came wafted down the village street—
Those hundred placid years to greet.

The second laggard century crept,
Slow loitering on, and still he slept;
But in his sleep he dreamed and stirred—
And on his lips a muttered word.

Troubled, he turned; he vaguely sighed;
His eyes, half opened, saw the wide
Horizons that, beyond his ken,
Swept out into the world of men.

With shriek and shot and clangorous din
Came his third century leaping in;
He sprang to meet it with a roar—
The giant wakes, to sleep no more.

By the salt meadows there he stands,
With knotted muscles, iron hands,
And fills a thousand rushing keels,
And turns ten thousand thousand wheels.

He hurls the rushing trains afar,
He calls where distant peoples are,
And bids them work with sweating speed
His clamorous engines still to feed.

And islands in far southern seas
For him denude their tropic trees;
And in the jungle’s endless night
Toil slaves to feed the giant’s might.

His harvest field is all the earth,
Raw wealth he gleans, and gives it birth
In forms of use for all the world;
His flag of toil is never furled.

By the salt meadows there he stands,
A giant, with his iron hands
Grasping a throttle open wide—
And round him sweep horizons wide.

Image: Library of Congress
Image: Library of Congress

Minnie Reynolds was a journalist and executive secretary of the Women’s Political Union of New Jersey. From the WPU’s Newark headquarters she organized rallies and meetings in factories and neighborhoods, in advance of an October 1915 statewide referendum on the question of extending voting rights to women. New Jersey was one of four states that rejected women’s suffrage that year.

Reynolds’s “Newark” was a prizewinning entry in the 1916 poetry contest held for the city’s 250th anniversary.

come, train, to newark in seventy-six

by E. Alma Flagg

Image: Donald Lokuta via Newark Public Library
Image: Donald Lokuta via Newark Public Library

Come, Freedom Train, to Newark and we shall be
Impressed by you and seeking to impress,
For in our city, aged three hundred ten,
There runs the thread of all our nation’s past;
Not only do we view the past with pride
In heroes, workers, folk of every hue;
We look our present squarely in the eye
And seeing flaws which mar the life we seek,
We purpose to remove from in our midst
The blight of hate, the scourge of poverty,
The evils of injustice, ignorance,
The miseries of disease and pestilence.
We would install in Newark and all around
The lights of hope and love and brotherhood,
The ways of peace and work and joint concern—
For then, indeed, the Revolution lives,
And Life and Liberty will be our own,
And Happiness find us in close pursuit.
Let’s make the ideals real—come, Freedom Train!

The American Freedom Train, part of the U.S. Bicentennial festivities, rolled into Newark on August 21, 1976. Alma Flagg’s invocation was included in a volume of conference papers entitled Newark 1967-1977, edited by Stanley Winters.


by Martin L. Cox
Image: Newark Story

Come, citizens of Newark, proud,
        Of low or high degrees,
Unite in story, song and ode,
        Float banners on the breeze,
Awake the harp and raise the voice
        To laud our city’s praise,
For Newark Day is here to stay
        Among our festal days.

Our fathers’ spirits shall behold
        Their work was not in vain;
What sires once planned the sons have done
        Upon Passaic’s plain.
By earnest toil, upon our soil,
        As passing years have flown,
The walls of temple, mart and home
        Have risen stone on stone.

Europa sent her stalwart sons
        From English moor and town,
From German vineyard, Flemish farm,
        Or Scottish heather brown,
From Polish plain and Irish bog
        And sunny Roman land,
To build anew their hearths and homes
        Along Passaic’s strand.

And these with those New England men
        Who first sought here a home,
Have labored side by side in peace;
        For under heaven’s dome
No dearer place for them, they felt,
        Could anywhere be found,
And love of country, love of home,
        They learned in tilling ground.

Soon Industry and Thrift came here
        To crown our fathers’ toil;
Their wants were few, but well supplied
        From Jersey’s fertile soil.
Their gratitude to God they gave
        In formal psalm and prayer,
Believing He alone could bless
        Their labor and their care.

What mean these massive walls of brick
        That look like castles old?
No place of idol state are they,
        No keep for hoarding gold;
But busy factories of trade,
        Where lathe and loom and wheel
Are busy servants, helping man
        Promote the common weal.

What wonder if our fathers erred
        In many things they did?
How could they know our present needs
        Which Time from them had hid?
For them Passaic’s lordly flow
        Brought blessings from the hills,
And on his heaving bosom came
        No stain from town or mills.

O citizens, awake and claim
        That river for your own,
Its stream and banks a legacy
        Of fabled worth has grown.
Your buildings for the public use,
        And every park and square,
These are the jewels you must prize
        And make your daily care.

Then, long live Newark, proud and great,
        The home of industry,
Create new beauties for her own
        In stone and spreading tree.
Let all her people join the song
        In one triumphant strain,
And praise the town with heart and voice
        In loving, glad acclaim.

In 1910 the Board of Education proclaimed the first “Newark Day” and in 1911, with money contributed by Newark pupils, the Schoolmen’s Club began to place a series of bronze tablets honoring figures and features of the city’s distant or recent past. Plaques were dedicated on Newark Day, the first Monday of November, over the course of the next eighteen years.

Martin L. Cox, principal of Thirteenth Avenue School, composed these verses for his students’ Newark Day observance in 1916, the city’s two hundred fiftieth anniversary year. The Newark Star printed the poem on October 26, “so as to bring it before the other school children of Newark, in order to instill civic pride in their hearts.”

the passaic’s song of reproach

by Frank J. Urquhart

Image: Boylan FitzGerald via
Image: Boylan FitzGerald via

The thing ye tread, although seeming dead, may turn and wound the heel,
        And words of brass that seem to pass may come back words of steel.
The deeds of man are of boundless span, whether for good or ill,
        And much of his woe began ages ago, and will last for ages still.

Ye found me fair and as clear as air; ye were careless and dense and dumb.
        Ye have done thy will with my waters, until ye have made me a thing to shun.
For greatness ye sought, and toiled and wrought, unmindful of what ye did
        To my tides that flow at thy feet, and so my sickening face I hid.

And ye grew in power, but hour by hour, unwitting, ye weakened, too.
        As ye piled thy wealth there stole by stealth a pall o’er my waters blue.
Thy gold heaps grew, but the dross ye threw with wanton scorn to me.
        Now I bid ye cease; and give me release! Go carry thy scum to the sea!

On every bark I’ll place the mark of the unclean curse ye’ve given.
        ‘Round shop and stack my steaming wrack shall coil and writhe to heaven.
From the sight of me thy people shall flee and hush their merry laughter;
        And my waters shall spread, with the fever they dread, the death that follows after.

The fouling of Passaic waters can be traced through centuries of human use along their entire 80-mile length. While the river as a whole has entered a period of recovery, mid-twentieth-century contamination of sediments in the lower Passaic so far seems beyond the powers of nature, or human ingenuity, to reverse.

Frank J. Urquhart is best known as the author of A Short History of Newark, first issued by the Newark Public Library in three parts and later collected and reprinted in book form. The work was used extensively in the city’s schools. “The Passaic’s Song of Reproach” appeared in the Newark Sunday Call on March 1, 1903.

the dignity of labor

by Frederick H. Pilch

Image: Michael Lenson
Image: Michael Lenson

Would you see hard work with success encrowned?
With a thoughtful eye calmly look around;
Here, the busy brain and the horny hand
Bid their wondrous wares in a pageant stand,
And the maker’s thoughts higher still aspire
When the women smile and the men admire—
Work is ne’er too mean to be deftly done,—
’Tis a small reward that is lightly won.

In the blackest muck snowy lillies bloom,
And the sunrise springs from the darkest gloom;
In the grimy coal lurks the power of steam,
In the shapeless stone sleeps the sculptor’s dream,
From the dusty loom fairest fabrics come,
Fairy fancies flit through the workshop’s hum,
In the plater’s bath silv’ry sheen’s begot,
And the picture’s gloss in the varnish pot.

Labor loves its work when it works for love,
From the Tanner’s vat comes the bridal glove;
From the furnace flame comes the shining steel,
And the gleaming gold from the rouging wheel;
In the throes of toil perfect art is wrought,
Through the mire of ink flash the gems of thought.
Breath depends on bread formed of dust and leaven;
In the mint of Earth saints are coined for Heaven.

From the dust of earth God made humankind,
With the dust of earth Jesus cured the blind;
From the blended dust of the earthly mine
Men make magic work that’s almost divine.
Man, in doing work finds his true delight,
Labor speeds the day—toil brings rest at night;
When the world was formed out of darkness bleak
Great Jehovah wrought one eventful week.

For seven and a half weeks in the late summer and early fall of 1872, the Newark Industrial Exhibition showcased a bewildering array of products from astronomical clocks to saddlers’ tools, baseball bats to hat blocks, washing soap to wax fruit, tinware to underwear, all of it Newark-made. The first such exhibition held in this country, the event demonstrated not only Newark’s unparalleled manufacturing prowess but, in the words of former mayor Theodore Runyon, an “appreciation of the value and dignity of labor.”

The exhibition inspired Frederick Pilch to compose these lines, which were included in his Homespun Verses published in Newark in 1882.