Sunday, July 12, 2009

Crossing the Trestle

I should mention that several years ago at a poetry reading in Warren County I ran into an old poetry associate, Charles Johnson. I had just finished my reading and one of the poems mentioned the tracks and the trestle. Charles walked up to me and said "I crossed that trestle". I was surprised and asked what he meant. He told me he'd taken the walk down the tracks and crossed the railroad trestle. Just as my friends and I and generations of kids had done over the years.
The difference is that Charles was from Haddon Heights or Jericho and he was black and for a young man from Jericho to cross that trestle in the early sixties was far braver than any other little kid worrying about trains.
There were real threats if he walked through Wenonah and the threats were the people. They're talking about finally building the light rail from Philly to Glassboro through Wenonah using the old rail bed again. As usual the anti light rail group is worried about black and spanish folks getting off in Wenonah. As though any black kid would want to get off in Wenonah. As if they wouldn't get escorted to the town line and sent home. Some things never change.
So my congratulations to my brave friend and to all my friends who helped walk that line. Don't forget there is still a line. Watch each others back.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Trestle & The Pill Factory

In eighth grade we began to expand our geographic horizons. We moved further afield from the woods by Clay Hill, venturing past the Lentz's house all the way to the railroad trestle. This hike required we cross a huge downed tree and it passed an area of the creek where you might actually be able to swim. There was one home with a huge German Shepherd that you would have to sneak by. The trail ended up in an area we called Boy Scout Island. It wasn't an island but occasionally the different scout troops would do overnights there. Just past Boy Scout Island was the trestle. The trestle was huge and loomed far over our heads. The creek itself had it's only "white water" as it rolled over rocks from the construction of the trestle.
We'd scale the trestle from the bottom or simply walk up the sides and then venture out on the trestle itself. None of us knew when a train might come so this was initially terrifying. We later learned we could move off to a side area of the trestle and wait till a train passed if we were trapped in the middle when one came through. But in the beginning we were too stupid to figure this out.
After spending a beautiful Fall afternoon dodging death we'd walk down the tracks throwing rocks at the telegraph wires to hear the weird sounds they'd make. A high whine. After a bit we'd drop down the grade and pass by the Pill Factory. By the time we were kids the Pill Factory was abandoned but for years it had been one of the few industries in Wenonah. Now it was a scary abandoned white building. As I recall we were too frightened to go inside but I could be wrong.
We'd end up by the Mecholsky's and then back home. Another day of artificially induced terror and adventure. Four or six or eight teenagers lost in their own little world.

Friday, July 03, 2009

The Glorious 4th

Okay, I'm sick as a dog, I feel like shit but come hell or high water I'll be at the corner of S. Lincoln & W. Mantua Ave when the three one minute blasts go off. Keep in mind I'm giving up the Macy's fireworks in the Hudson.
Seriously there is no better 4th of July in all the world like Wenonah's!
See you there.