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Thursday, May 2, 2013

The place where the Old Mill once stood.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

I miss the old place, that rat trap everybody went to on New Year’s Eve called “Tony’s Mill,” a place now more than a decade demolished though when I last stood here – before anybody made it over into a park – the remnants of the Old Mill remained – a single chimney connected to a fire place which had done little to warm anybody when it was contained in a building, but let out in the open looked more than a little ridiculous – as if preserving that actually preserved the spirit of the place when that era had long passed, and the place once icon to old Secaucus ceased to have real meaning.
People went to the mall for food instead, if not for atmosphere.
Everything has changed, even the water, which when the place served as a kind of hunter’s lodge was fresh, filled with cattails and fresh water fish, to a brackish back water victim of tides that have brought in new fish and new plants to feed on, and after decades of pollution, killed off any sense of wilderness.
Kids still skim stones over the water, but as one of the few signs of real progress, all these kids are girls – not Tom Boys to be mocked, but Tom Sawyers in their own right, laughing at the watch the pieces of flint skip over the brown surface of the Hackensack and plop into the center.
A young woman in a beach chair sunbathes where the pistol range once stood, head down, eyes closed as Mother Nature floats above in the guise of seagulls and cormorants.
While boat ramp still slants down into the mouth of Mill Creek, the old boat yard is gone, along with its parade of parts and its out of water boats, waiting to make their launch, and like the hunters who no longer warm their hands around the fire, the old boat men are gone, too, their craggy voices silenced and their tall tales of nearly caught fish part of other tales of duck filled skies and muskrats.
The giggle of children playing in the plastic playground seem a pathetic replacement, as does the rattle of bicycle chains as kids make their way up from the sport fields and across the half mile footbridge spanning the wide and still wild meadows between this place and where the high school stands.
The gulls and other birds still perch on the posts to the old wooden docks, who planks have long drifted away. I stand on the cracked concrete where other men, hunters and fishermen once stood, staring out at the moving water, a different river, coming back to life, but for what purpose – if there is no real life on the shore to take part in it.
Maybe it is better off being a park, better fitting the change in society where people are more passive, coming here to look at, but not take part in nature, as if their lives and the natural world have no connection, and it all is just one big computer image, without the computer or the screen, where we sit and look out at something, but never touch it, and it never touches us, the sadness growing on me as I recall the men who spent their lives here, the generations who celebrated the dark nights here, all waiting for the spring to come to they could dive back into what they saw as a valuable part of their lives.
The kids giggle. Lear Jets bound for Teterboro roar over head. I turn back to my car for the drive back into the heart of the city, leaving a bit of myself to float away from this place along with the tidbits of the Old Mill that once stood here in place of the park.

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