Monday, March 28, 2016


Probably the most forgotten community
around here is what once was 'Sampton',
also once called 'Waterville', and also
originally called Samptown. It's long gone.
The following sad note is the closing
paragraph on a sort of 'municipal history'
of Samptown, squeezed in now as it is
between references by name to South 
Plainfield and Piscataway, each of which
would lay fuller claim to it if they could:
'It was Samptown's misfortune to have
become part of a community that has 
little or no interest in its past. For that 
reason, its memory has been consigned 
to a few pages in a dusty history book 
and the ghosts of the soldiers who fought 
and died there. Pity.' You know what I
wrote in that previous piece, about the
cop car brazenly sitting, in the present
day, on the very spot where so much old
history and presence bled through. All of
the Samptown area is like that. The word
to be used is 'hideous.' I am reminded of
an old Twilight Zone episode, one that has
always stayed with me  - one that has
infiltrated, obviously, my mind and my
thinking. In it, a wagon-train guy, whose
son is ill, leaves his wagon train, desperate
to find a medicine or a cure or something
for his son, gravely ill in a wagon. I'm 
glossing over everything, but he leaves 
the wagon train, walks over a hill, and is
somehow plopped into the modern day 
(1959) of a roadside diner and some
unsuspecting, and then very suspecting,
people. The story goes on, lots of the
usual blather (save the kid, he'll maybe
someday be a 'great doctor', etc.). 
Anyway, whatever the merits and the
shortcomings  -  these range from the
conversations, and the differences over
clothing and rifles and places and ideas,
but it all works  -  the episode is always
to the forefront for me at places like this.
I walk Samptown. There are only remnants,
and only if you know. Once there were
water mills, bucolic ponds and streams,
country farms and houses and even a
drawbridge of sorts over a twisting land
(I've seen pictures). But then came the
railroads, the idea of mills and water
'power' (the heck with just the water),
the paths and lanes were widened, and 
by the 1930's it was over. Roads and 
factories, etc. There was some vital
Revolutionary War skirmish activity and
battles here, dead bodies, cannonballs,
muskets and the rest. Over the years
things have been found. The only truly
old and original part now, which I 
actually like to walk  -  there's nothing 
much else there and one's mind can
soar  -  is the old graveyard. It's part
new too, but there are old sections, 
really old sections, war sections and 
an entire Jewish section. It's pretty 
mute, all of it, and you have to do 
the talking, here, yourself. Otherwise 
it doesn't talk. The area is, however,
littered with the ghosted remnants 
of the world that we have passed 
through and which has passed through
us. The only thing left there now is
the cemetery, a car wash, and a big
factory joint called 'Harris Structural 
Steel'. Until ten years or so back, there 
was also a large Pepsi-Cola Bottling 
Plant there. The rest is just junk  -  
and I am  always ashamed 
here by how we live.
Never knowing what to make of 
anything, I just most often wind 
up praying to my own version of 
God. Not God the Militant or God 
the Merciful. Neither of those; none,
in fact, of any of the normal. I tend 
more towards God the Transformative
There's not much good we can answer 
back with, so I do this all fleetingly  -  
absorbing into my life lessons that 
which I see and feel deep within my 
own comportment. I walk , when I'm 
like this, in a different air  -  same 
air, sort of, that I write from. Not
an atmosphere of Earth at all. Well,
hard to explain, but easy to breath.
There are places around, like Batsto 
and Allaire, that once used to be 
unassuming. I remember, in 1966 
and '67, going to those places on 
Summer days just to regale myself
in the informal lassitude of the past, 
the very past, the unheralded and 
untroubled past. Things just were; 
these places were, sure to say, historic 
spots, but no one ran overboard to
cater to all the crap like they do today. 
often think that one of the keys to 
today's downfall of all things is that 
somewhere along the line someone 
realized that they could work their 
way into free money, heck, into a real
racket, by hooking up government 
stuff to all these places : docents, guides,
the dumb history that goes with all of that, 
money for improvements, tours, new 
walkways and parking lots, fences, gift 
shops, gardens, all that. All at government 
expense, and unwittingly paid for by the
captive citizenry. It just sort of ruined 
everything. It became an 'industry' unto 
itself, like some sort of California Knott's 
Berry Farm of the communual mind. 
Horrid stuff : who needs some crappy 
history mis-told and prettified, at the
expense of the entire commonweal, for
otherwise bestial ignoramouses. Once 
these operators glommed onto the idea 
that the 'Government' would get, and 
stay, involved, and realizing there was 
a living and a salary to be made from 
it (and some cheesy, penny-ante fiefdom
to rule over), the whole system was 
gamed, until we have what we have 
today : children's days, changing tables
in the restrooms, cafeterias, seating areas,
and Summer 'concert nights' and junk.
A travesty, and a far, long cry from the
original reality of whatever truth was
supposing to be presented. And it's all
very funny : a place like Samptown, or
Sampton, or Waterville (whatever the 
hell it was ever originally called) is 
forgotten and negated to nothing at all  
-  a sad, ghosty memory of images and 
shadows for a writer  - while other places,
like Allaire and Batsto, get tickeld over
and all frumped up with stupidity in the
other direction. I think that middle ground,
of just leaving it all alone and letting 'you',
as the one person, alone, to take it all in
and carry yourself through the dreams 
and memories, was much, much better. 
History is never clean and simple, can't
be whitewashed for pleasure, often was
painful and with hurt, often stunk to
high heaven, and was filled to the brim
with Death and Destruction. 

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