Saturday, October 10, 2015

7273. BELOW THE WATER LINE, pt. 38

(pt. 38)
There was a crazy guy named Dooley, who
had a toy store, also named Dooley's, pretty
much in the exact spot where the Woodbridge
Library and the George Frederick Health Center
is. There was a long lawn and driveway, all cluttered,
and displayed everywhere were swing-sets, slides,
trampolines, bicycles, and lots more. Behind it all
sat this really great, white clapboard, Dooley house,
where he lived with his family. The family, I know
nothing about. He was a really jocular, twinkly-eyes
laughing guy, with a booming voice. A bit bulky, he
was, but a nice guy. About 1956 or '57, he and my father
worked out some sort of a deal for a nice swing-set and
attached slide to be delivered to our yard. My father and
this Dooley guy had hit it off well, and as I recall he
came by with his truck and he and my father pretty much
spent an entire day, or most of it anyway, digging eight
or ten little holes, filling them with a concrete mix,
assembling the swing-set and attached slide, and then
planting it, as it were, nicely positioned and made
level, in the soon-drying concrete the mixed. A few
beers later, it was all finished and they were happy
guys. Dooley got back in his truck, and left. We also
visited there a few times, my father and myself, mostly
just to say hi and hang out, it seemed. But I guess there
were reasons for the visits. The store itself was just a
decent, low building built onto or at the front of their
house  -  and it was filled with great stuff : trucks and
cars, toy versions I mean, dolls, for girls, wagons and
sleds, and probably more, but I forget the whole scene,
Neither can I remember if this was open meadow and
clay pits, or if the newer Woodbridge High School had
been built yet. It didn't really matter : there was a little
Carvel or Dairy Queen there, on the corner where the
Woodbridge High School electric sign is now, and  -
to the other direction  -  there was a big, kind-of-fancy
banquet hall and restaurant, called The Log Cabin. I
remember it burned but good, totally destroyed. Nothing
ever replaced it  -  the area now is ABD Electric, at the
train crossing. Across the street was Woodbridge Ford,
a regular car dealership, just Fords, and next to that,
over towards the highway. was the pretty large grounds
of the Woodbridge Drive-In Theater, now a huge mess
of Shop-Rite and other stores. The Ford dealership
used to have wires strung all over its front parking
and display area, and there were, like Christmas
lights, strings of clear lightbulbs running everywhere  -
which was the lot's illumination. I know, because we'd
usually find ways to break some lightbulbs whenever
we got over there and they were closed. Nearby, past
the now-high-school's little triangle corner, there was
a Studebaker dealership (my friend's father's place,
except that I can't remember his name)  -  they were
gone by 1959, I'm betting, as was Studebaker, and
DeSoto too. Two old car-names. There was a Stewart's
Root Beer there too, and down the street were the 3
Little League fields we played on. I'd bicycle ride to
games there; if we won, sometimes the coach or the
manager guy, Bill Taylor  -  who lived in Avenel on
Woodruff Ave., he'd take the team (maybe 15 kids) to
Stewarts,  and we'd all have a root beer at the outdoor
counter. When we lost, on the other hand, we'd have
to buy him a case of beer  -  no, no just kidding. Later,
too, they put in a place called 'Jumpin Jiminy'  - which
was an outdoor trampoline place where, for like 50 cents,
you'd get a half-hour or whatever on one of the five or
six outdoor, fenced in, trampolines. All that stuff has
disappeared -   there are now 'professional' buildings
there, a Spanish restaurant and, across the street, where
the Studebaker showroom and lot once was, is a big
Indian Restaurant, where they serve buffalo meat.
No, just kidding : the other kind of Indian food.
I'll cover all these things more later. This is just a rundown,
beginning with Dooley, of things that became routine places
to me  -  mostly thanks to Avenel Park. Which is all I'll
ever call it. It's been cavalierly re-named after a recent
dead Mayor, and hopefully that re-naming will fade in
10 or 15 years and we can get back to some sense about
places. I won't be here to see it, but I hope it happens  -
a place is a place, by geography. The 'descriptive' of the
geography is what counts, not the stupid political
re-naming of things. Passing things, of the moment
things. If you'd rather say they're re-named so they
do NOT become passing and forgotten, I'd say you're
wrong. It's all better forgotten, these silly political
things foisted on us make me puke.
The Dooley swing stayed  in our yard a long time. I
myself never gave it much attention. But it got used
lots  -  friends and friends of my sister, and then the
younger brothers and sisters. I forgot to mention the
one really cool thing about it  -  one side was a slide,
but the other side was like a swinging seat-section,
the kind of thing you get on a carousel or maybe a
ferris wheel compartment, if you can visualize that,
so you could just sit there, as if on a porch-swing,
and slowly rock back and forth. I liked that.
I used to set out on my bicycle for these places, which
weren't much, but they were somewhere. Avenel Park,
in the deep, back ends, actually past the park through it
towards coming out onto Rt. 35, or Amboy Ave., whatever
it's called there. It was dirt road stuff, just wide paths that
went into beautiful swamp areas and ponds, and the entire
area, each summer and Spring, was crazy-grown with 
skunk cabbage, May apple plants, reeds and punks, what
we called them anyway  -  those fuzzy brown things that 
you can dry-out and light up like a cigar and it keeps away 
bugs with its nice odor and smoke. I'd just bike in  -  I had
my own favorite spots, near a pond  -   and sit; not much 
of a care about anything  -  there was traffic and stuff out
at the street but where I was no one could see me, I was
sheltered, and it was nicely isolated. No one ever bothered
me - just bull frogs and mosquitoes, doing their thing. I'd
waste lots of time there, musing  -  having imaginings like
dream-stuff, entering and leaving places at will, whether
real or not. It was how I strengthened my character. I was
trying hard to become other-worldly. The great silence
was my best friend. Time runs its own toll, and it runs
out of time too. Funny - it runs out of itself. These places
are all gone now  -  endless apartments, piles of immigrants
and faulty people. Once 1965 came around and all that
immigration stuff changed, the placed got flooded with
Indian and south Asian 'scientific' types  -  they were the
first to be let into this country in large numbers from those 
places. Merck, Johnson and Johnson, Squibb, all nearby, 
they all took lab workers, scientists and professional 
personnel. Everything was built over, the swamps and 
rivulets taken away. Nothing's there now except big blasts
of bad breath  -  the equivalent of anyway  -  no-one wants
it to be there, but the whole town was sold out lock, stock, 
and barrel a long time ago. Zirpolo, Jacks, Barone, Dragos,
Bassarab  -  all those money types sold Woodbridge down 
the river for their thirty pieces of silver, over and over again. 
Zirpolo and Jacks went to prison, others never got nabbed.
They were criminals, fleecing the public purse, and what I
got from it was nothing more than a boy's negative attitude
and the resultant loss of everything 'American' in the old 
sense of the word, from my life. Even though the school 
jerks still tried teaching us all that usual Civics book crap,
everyone knew it was all a lie. In a few years anyway, 
Vietnam sealed the trap on all that stuff. Even so, 
some jerks still fell for it all.
I can't go around making excuses for things, or even
excuses for myself. This is the place I, sort-of, grew up in,
so I'm telling about it but only in a little way the way it was 
because it's all coming through me, the way I am now, the way
I came up through it. My viewpoints, while solid, would most
probably never be the accepted viewpoints of others  -  I didn't
'develop' myself so that they should be so. The life I put together, 
out of Avenel, had more in common with some 15th century 
monk somewhere than it ever did with the usual product of 
Avenel. It's as if I'm looking at a picture book of some place I 
may have once been, and trying to turn in a morning report about 
it to some insane management firm that wants my report. I'm
pretty much the enemy of what we purport 'society' is about today  -  
and I would want to redeem it, to bring it back with some force to
the underpinnings of what it should have become from what it
began as, NOT the way it is now. I detest accumulation, the 
squidding around for money, wealth, envy and possessions.
Careers and success mean nothing to me  -  those things are not
my world. Are there other places that would have contained me?
Yes, of course; but 'Avenel' is the place I was, for a time, and
so  -  because of that  -  that's the story you're getting.

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