Sunday, January 3, 2016

7651. BELOW THE WATER LINE (pt. 123)

(pt. 123)
Because I didn't go there near as much, I didn't
know as much about Rahway. I always considered
Rahway, anyway, as more an adjunct of Avenel,
or vice-versa, since it was to there that we'd often
walk for fishing, scouting, or just following the
tracks or junkyards, which led there. So it was
always a different sort of place for me. Certainly
not an Avenel sort of place at all. It was old, and
lame, it seemed. The kind of people there, and
the people who labored there as shoemakers, or
show-repairers, clock stores and a camera shop,
even that Toy Store I'd mentioned, 'Schatzman's'
were run by old people. In Rahway, it was as
if nothing new had happened in 75 years. One
time, years later, about 1970, when a friend of
mine told me that his mother's church, on the
corner in Rahway by the post office, had begun
using, in their Sunday liturgy, the Simon and
Garfunkel song 'Bridge Over Troubled Water',
I was floored. It seemed preposterous. But, I
guess it was all part of the slowly changing
mores everywhere. Even the old-line churches
were now gobbling up what they could of the
sundered and fragmenting pieces of society left.
Each of my trips to Rahway had always concerned
the old, some storybook pose of gentle oldness,
like that represented by all those black people who
lived along the river as if this was all Alabama.
That was all exceptional to me : eventually the
Army Corps of Engineers came in, by about
1968, and channeled, banked, leveled, cut and
otherwise destroyed at least 2 miles of that river-
front of which the black sharecropper type homes
existed. All was lost. Now there' nothing but
sluice-piped and channeled, control-flow
water, and any homes left are abandoned wrecks
or, a few, used by P&A construction and others
for storage, truck parking, or piles of pipes and
metal. A shame. The rest of the town is a joke.
When stuff disappears, I guess kids worry about
it, for a second or two. They don't really think
past that point of what they've just seen. I don't
know what adults do  -  they seem always to be
in favor of everything, as positive, always as
'growth-is-good, tear down the old' sort of gung-ho
attitudes. I never knew how they made that thought
or got to those conclusions. Even to this day, I
never do. What's ever so good about more and
bigger baffles me. That big ugly car in your
driveway? You want another? That house that
looks like some Moghul emperor's stucco palace,
not large enough? People tear things down to make
decks and cabanas and pools and stuff as if they
owned the Earth. Doing willy-nilly that which they
please. I have news for them  -  one old, sagging
pale red barn dying in the old woods somewhere
is worth than any of them all combined. To begin
with, it's all that crazed and duping growth which
the makes necessary politics, and the dweebs and
control-freaks who go with it. All they ever want
to do  -  which is all adults ever do anyway  -  as
make laws, control, stop, outlaw or 'prevent'.
Life is life; you can't prevent a thing.
We didn't know anything about laws  - we always
just did what we wanted. Any trouble we might have
stretched never really bothered us. Now there are
laws for everything : just the other day someone told
me that when you pass a police car on the shoulder
of the road  -  the cop having pulled someone over
and issuing a ticket  -  you have to get out of the
slow lane as best as possible, and merge over into
middle. For the cop's safety. there's a new law
about  it. If you fail to do so, they can write you
up. Seems like there's a law now for everything.
I guess it's all true. But that's not a solution at all; it's
just an annoying way of making for trouble for all.
As kids, whenever we saw a cop, we just said hi. The
cops we knew were always presented to us as moral
superiors, imparting some message to us. The ones
who came to school to talk about things. We never
wondered or questioned  -  but neither did we ever
think it would have come to this.
It all starts seeming pretty useless after a while. No
one ever wants to hurt a cop, and when that stuff
happens it's bad. But all these laws, for every little
thing, they're just as bad. You get so you just can't
keep up, and don't want to either. No wonder the
criminal mind just starts becoming rampant. There's
too much pressure going otherwise to enforce
anything against it. Rahway represented more
of 'order' than did ever Perth Amboy, but it too 
was old line and staggering  -  it seemed, from the
point of the Avenel visual by which I viewed
things that the rest of the world was slowly finding
ways to run down while this one clump of Avenel
was at least resourceful and growing. I had friends,
 trains, the fields, and we had a 'new!' supermarket
too, along the road which led to a park. Everything,
for the moment, was seeming to represent growth 
and possibility.

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