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Education has always been important to this community. Not only did members of this community make every effort to ensure that their children were able to achieve a basic primary and secondary education, but they have also collectively supported the community members who chose to pursue higher education. This community has always recognized the value of attending college, and earning even higher degrees, and has supported each other financially and emotionally. Florine Henderson explains,
“We were a community that had so little. Most of the adults in the community worked as domestics or construction workers. They worked for the University as custodians or the Newark special school district. But when someone was ready to go to college, the entire community pulled their resources together and they gave everything they had to make sure that child had a college education.”
In June of 1951, Cora Berry-Saunders and Kathryn Hazeur, members of this community, received master's degrees in education from the University of Delaware. They were the first black people ever to receive degrees from UD. Many community members are alumni of the historically black Lincoln University in Pennsylvania as well. Since then, many other community members have gone on to receive advanced degrees, such as Dr. Denise Hayman, Dr. Patty Wilson and Crystal Hayman Simms. Regardless of the circumstances, this community has always ensured, through its best efforts, that everyone who wanted an education got an education.
In addition to valuing education, this community has always valued self-sufficiency and self-dependence. As a result, a large number of black owned businesses have developed and thrived within the New London Road Community. Two of them used to exist just next to the New London Road School, which you have just left. They were Bell’s Funeral Home and the Wagon Wheel, a social gathering place. Several community members have fond memories of the Bell family and these places. Arnold Saunders recalls that,
“And we could go swimming, especially like on Saturday mornings I think like twenty-five cents. And Mrs. Bell would bake cinnamon buns, and everybody, you know, that paid to get in got a chance to get cinnamon bun while you were swimming. And I think on a Saturday morning in the summer, that’s where you could find just about every teenager or anybody that—the little ones, toddlers—that’s where everybody was going to the Bell Swimming Pool.”
And Violet Pettijohn has fond memories of the Wagon Wheel:
“It was wonderful. It was wonderful. You had to be twenty-one to go back up in there, but sometimes they had family picnics and things like that, and young people. But they didn’t sell no liquor to nobody, but they had entertainment. It was just nice, and in summertime it was really wonderful because they’d have a baseball game over on the school, and it was just a party, wonderful, family place. It really was, and Miss Emily Bell could cook, cook, cook. She could really cook.”
Emily Bell’s hospitality was so famous, it has actually been commemorated with Emily Bell Lane, where the funeral home once stood.
In addition to the funeral home and Wagon Wheel, there have also been a number of other businesses here, such as a tea parlor, a beauty parlor, an ice house on New London Road, a beer garden, Mr. Bobby’s barber shop and café-gas station, a tailor shop, Mr. Cleveland Davis’ store and restaurant, and John Chambers’ liquor store. Many businesses were housed in people’s homes, such as the tea parlor at 50 Corbit Street, which was run by Clara and Archie Saunders; the beauty shop at Sarah Hayman’s house on New London Avenue, and Mr. Bus’ Ice Cream shop.
Now, continue south on New London Road and turn right at Corbit Street to go to Terry Manor. But make sure to have a look at the house on the south corner of Corbit Street. This house is on the site of the Congo School, started around 1860 by the Congo family to service the New London Road Community. Though the city of Newark did not provide schooling services to the community at this time, residents were so dedicated to education that the Congos established this school, and residents contributed funds to keep it running. This house was the site of the only available school for the New London Road neighborhood until it moved to a building on Cleveland Avenue in 1901.