"People were running out of stores," Marvin says, "carrying big TVs on their backs, and couches. You'd see little guys trying to carry things they couldn't even carry."
"Really terrifying," Ida Mae says. At night, she drew the shades, turned off the lights and double-locked the door, securing it further by jamming the back of a chair under the knob. For three days no one left the apartment. "She'd have killed us," Hagler says. When Uncle Eugene, who had been visiting, tried to leave the apartment to get home, a burst of gunfire chipped the facade above the front stoop and drove him back inside. The Haglers lay that night under Veronica's bed. One night, two bullets smashed through the bedroom window and shattered the plaster above the bed.
"Stay away from the windows," Ida Mae told her family. Police and National Guardsmen were everywhere—on the street, on the rooftops, chasing looters, searching for snipers. "You could hear them running across the roof above us," Ida Mae says. "There was running and cussing and policemen outside." Ida Mae forbade any of the kids to stand up. For three days they went about the five-room apartment on all fours, sliding around on cushions to get to the bathroom and the kitchen.
"It was like the end of the world," Veronica says.
By the time it was over, 26 people had died, and whole ghetto neighborhoods of the once vibrant city lay in ruin: Buildings were abandoned, garbage and mattresses were strewn in the streets, and countless cars were stripped.
"It was scary," Marvin says.
Ida Mae thought: I never want to go through that again.
Nearly two years later there was another riot. A thousand angry blacks roamed the streets, smashing store windows, looting and throwing bottles at police cars. Once again, the Hagler kids weren't allowed outdoors. The 1969 riot lasted only two nights, and no one was killed, but Ida Mae called a relative in Brockton, Mass., 20 miles from Boston, and asked her to help find the Haglers a place to live.
So, with the help of friends, a few weeks later she filled a U-Haul truck with their belongings and moved the family to Brockton, once renowned for its shoe factories, later as Rocky Marciano's hometown, a city that hadn't seen much social unrest since militant townsmen with hunting rifles took to its streets to support Shays' Rebellion in 1786. An old blue-collar town, it is also a mixed ethnic salad of Yankees, French Canadians, Lithuanians, Italians and Irish, with a small percentage of blacks and Puerto Ricans.
"What a relief," Ida Mae says. "It was wonderful. I could leave my doors unlocked. The kids could go outside and sit on the porch. I was strict in Newark because I had to be; here I let up a little."