Recollections of life in Paterson


 Rick Martinez

First, My name is Rick Martinez. I was born at Barnert Hospital Paterson NJ in April 1963. After I was born, I was sent home to live with my parents who immigrated from Puerto Rico, in the corner of Straight Street and Grand Street, in a red apartment building 3rd floor. By the time I was three, my parents and I moved to Puerto Rico just to return back to Paterson NJ at age of five. 

In September, 1969 I was living on Main Street where began kindergarten at PS # 3. The school was built many years ago and it's hallways demonstrated that old, wooden hard wood floors. The school classroom back then went from Kindergarten to 5th grade. Then one would be transferred to another school.

By the summer of 1970, my parents were forced to move from Main Street because the government had bought the Apartment building where we rented an apartment, to make an exit highway ramp for Intrastate route 80. Not having anywhere else to move that was affordable at the time, the government gave my parents an apartment at Dean MC Nulty Housing Projects on Grand Street. In April of 1972, school officials found at PS # 3 found out that we were living out of the school district, and told my parents that I had to attend another school closer to home which ended up being PS # 7.

PS # 7 has one Kindergarten class and two classrooms for each grade from 1st grade to 8Th. The school also seem old with hard wood floors. I remember that the school was surrounded by beautiful one and two family homes. The majority of the children that attended PS # 7 were of Italian, German, Jewish, and Polish decent and were also the kids that lived around the neighborhood. But, during those days, the majority, or if not all,  of the Hispanic and blacks children that went to PS # 7, lived at the Dean MC Nulty Housing Projects.   

I attended PS # 7 until I graduated from the 8TH Grade in June 1978, and went on to J.F. Kennedy High School. 

I began the 9TH grade In September, 1978, at John F. Kennedy High School. There I joined the J. F. Kennedy Marching Band playing saxophone, the Orchestra and singing in the Concert Choir.  We played at every football event and performed concert twice a year and were sometimes invited to play in the Paterson Parade downtown Main Street. The best and most memorable events was the band playing and marching from  J. F. Kennedy High School, through The Great Falls, all the way to Hinchecliff Stadium on Thanksgiving Days, for the Annual Thanksgiving Football Game against the J. F. Kennedy High School football team and Eastside High School Football team. All the people in the surrounding neighborhood would come out to their porches and cheer us on.

Most of kids I befriended were kids who were mostly white and lived in the surrounding West Side Park neighborhood, in one or two family homes that their parents owned.

Being so involved in the extra curriculum activities and the arts allowed for me to find a new avenue in order for me to succeed in life. More so, I yearn to leave my neighborhood and especially, the Dean MC Nulty Housing Projects.

I do not talk much about my experiences living in the Dean MC Nulty Housing Projects because I was ashamed of living there, especially since after my parents split in 1972, we became victims of the society in our own environment. What I mean by that is living in a environment where the neighborhood became run down during the years, but yet, its the only place families can really afford. Therefore, one is stuck living there. 

In June, 1982, I graduated from J. F. Kennedy High School and was the first kid in the boys line, to march all the way to Hinchecliff Stadium on graduation day. I managed to maintain good grades and graduated with honors. This is what helped me to get accepted to William Paterson College.

A week later, I headed off to William Paterson College for a Summer College Program (EOF). By the end of the school year, I ended up working, getting my own apartment and living on my own from apartment to apartment, away from the Housing Projects and away from my family and eventually leaving Paterson and moving to Wayne NJ, until my graduation day in August 1987.

By 1992, I return to Paterson and began working at J. F. Kennedy School as a Peer Counselor for a program called School Based Youth services Program.

There I was able to help other Inner City Kids like myself beat the odds in life, and encourage them to attend college.

In 1987, I was promoted as a Site Manager in order to expand the program at Eastside High School, until August of 1999, I decided to follow my ultimate dream and move to Miami Florida. 

Today in 2009, I am a still living in my beautiful waterfront condo that I bought in 1998 and I work in a Hospital as a Social Worker, for a program that assist people in getting medical benefits for the HIV/AIDS infected population.  

But no matter what I do in life, or where I live, I will always remember one thing. "That is that you can take the man out of Paterson but no one can take the Paterson out of the man".

I hope you enjoyed



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