Sunday, November 29, 2009


[This is the first Summer of '69 story.]

I should tell you about Terri.

At the end of high school, I decided I should probably get a summer job. Probably. That was the situation I was in. You'd think my parents would have told me to get a job to help cover my imminent college costs, but they didn't. I don't know why.

There was a certain degree of difficulty to it. We lived in a small town in Rockland County, and I had not learned to drive. My mom was home, but with my four younger siblings to deal with, I felt like she had enough to keep her busy. My first choice was to check the shops in town that I could walk to, for HELP WANTED signs or some other clue. I might even have to speak and bring up the subject with somebody, if worst came to worst, but maybe that would not be necessary.

My favorite shop in town was a used bookstore called Schoolmaster Books. It filled most of a nineteenth-century wood-frame house that was once, so they said, a schoolmaster's house.

From the porch you came into a large front room the width of the building, and there was a back room, and more rooms upstairs. It was hard to see the interior detail with all the bookshelves and store cases, but I know the front room had a chair rail with a wooden wainscot below it, and the back room had a great ceiling made of thin wooden boards in a beautiful dark wood color.

It wasn't totally books. They had some small old toys and games too, but while they attracted my attention they were not what I came for.

Most of the books they had didn't cost much, but just the same I didn't have much to spend, so I had to consider carefully and wait till I saw something really good. I picked up a handful of books that I still have.

Look at this. The Rand, McNally Standard Atlas of the World., 1890 edition. Not everyone has one of these. It must have been my most expensive purchase, at a staggering (to me) price of $17 according to the pencilled notation on the flyleaf. The pages are about twice as large as my scanner, so I went outside and took a photograph of it so you can see it.

I could go on, but this is not what I wanted to tell you about.

Another reason I liked going Schoolmaster Books was the high school girl who worked there. I guessed that she was my age. I didn't dare actually talk to her and ask. Remember, all boys school. It may have helped me concentrate my way into good grades and Columbia College, but it did not help me concentrate when confronted with one of them.

I have set the scene. Now picture my younger self as I went in, just kind of casually looking toward the sales counter, Joe Cool, you know, maybe the girl is there, maybe not. The other possibility was that the owner, a nice grey haired woman, was at the counter.

But that just meant the girl was lurking inside the shop to startle me at any turn. She might be dusting or moving things around or whatever they needed done. I don't mean she was actually lurking for that purpose. But she might as well have been. Wow what excitement this was. I mean it. It really was. It didn't take much.

Then, when I did see her, I'd just kind of glance toward her, maybe looking at her shoes or something, and then ignore her. You might think I should have smiled at her and said hello. But if I did that, it might be rude or make her uncomfortable. Better to just barely acknowledge her presence and let her go about her business unmolested. That would be kinder. I wanted to be a fine person to be with.

This was my way of thinking at the time.

One Saturday around May, I was in there and found an old Red Book Street Guide to New York (with map) or something like that, for a couple of dollars. As I was paying the owner, she told me she was looking for someone to work there that summer. Just like that. All she knew about me was that I liked picking through books and bought one once in a while.

I took my life in my hands and spoke to her. I mean, after all, I was a kid. What did I say to shopkeepers besides "I'll take this" and then "thanks" for the change, if I even said that? If I said that much, it was an improvement over silently putting a thing on the counter and offering money and silently taking it and the change away. Was I a weird kid? Some days I think I was, and then I see kids acting the same way now when I'm in shops, and they don't seem weird. They're just kids.

So. I spoke to the owner. I told her that in fact I worked in a bookstore at school and that I had been wondering about what I would do for the summer.

I thought to myself that I would now be in a position to bring her one of those "references" or "recommendations" that I had heard about. My hard work at school would now pay off, because I would be able to get someone to write that I did a good job.

However the owner, who told me her name was Sue, and I could call her Sue, did not ask for a reference. She was willing to take me on just like that, on my word that I would show up starting in June. She called "Terri" to get the girl to come down and watch the counter. That was her name! Now I knew a secret about her!

I went back to the little office room with Sue and filled in my name and address and phone number and social security number and maybe something else. Sue checked when I would be out of school and able to work weekdays, and she asked whether I could do some weekends just before school ended. Apparently the shop was busier in the summer and especially on weekends. I had not noticed.

Obviously, on my way out, I could have said something to Terri. If I had said, "hey, I'm going to work here this summer", it would not have been out of line, would it? That would have been all right.

I didn't though. But I was bold enough to look at her face and nod my head toward her. She almost smiled. Then I was out the door.

As I walked home I realized I would need to deal with Terri in some way. Or would I? An awful thought came. Maybe Terri was taking another job! Maybe I was her replacement!

That still wouldn't be so bad. I liked books, and I liked the store, and Sue seemed nice, so I was going to be in pretty good shape anyway. That's what I told myself. But I was full of uncertainty.

This could have been straightened out very quickly if I had risked saying something to Terri as I left. I thought about how it could have played out.

What a bitter disappointment it would have been if she had said, "oh, good, I was worried what Sue would do without me", and I would have had to act calm. Imagine if I said, "oh you're leaving? too bad". Where would I go from there?

On the other hand, what if she had said, "oh, good, I'd like to work with you" or something. That would almost be worse! What would I say? "Great, I'm looking forward to it"? What do you mean, that would have been OK?

Once in a while I hear someone remark that it would be great to be a teenager again. NO. No it wouldn't. In the name of all that is holy, no. I never want that to happen. I'm glad it is impossible. If you're a mad scientist, invent something else.

By the time I got home I realized what an impossible situation I had got myself into. Sue must have told Terri that I was going to work there. That meant Terri would know the next time she saw me, and I figured she would say something. Girls are good at talking. I knew that. She'd say something about it. I had only put things off by slipping out the way I did.

I didn't go there the next Saturday. I never went every week. It's true, the books were all one of a kind, and you never knew what would turn up, but the inventory didn't refresh a lot in one week. So I had an excuse for not going back immediately. I could put off the reckoning.

Here is something I didn't know until later. Terri was expecting me the next Saturday. She thought I would come by even though it was only one week later. She even brought lunch and ate it outside on the porch, instead of going down the street for something like she usually did, just so she would be there. I never guessed it. I don't mean I thought of it and dismissed it as ridiculous. I mean the idea that this would happen never even occurred to me.

I never found out whether the two of them had spoken ahead of time about offering the job to me.

Of course I could not stay away forever. I needed to see what new old stuff might have come in. And I had to schedule those weekend hours in June with Sue. That was why I had to go back there eventually.

[The next Summer of '69 story is Mandala.]

Next time: Mandala.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Last week's teaser originally said this week's item would be called Doune. I was going to do a piece about our visit a few years ago to Doune Castle in Scotland, the principal location for one of our family's favorite films, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but then I realized that a lot of people have already made photo pages about going there. I like to create web pages with something you can't get anywhere else. Maybe I'll still do it sometime if I can come up with a new angle on it.

I have also begun writing a new story series that is something like a prequel to the College Stories. I have written out drafts of the first two parts, and I have thought about how to explain the end, but I feel like I don't quite have it right yet. I may have hinted to you before that I spent a few weeks on Drop in order to set up the College Stories properly. I will go out on a limb and put the working title of the first part of the new story at the end here.

So it's not as if I've done nothing, but it is almost as if, because once again I came all the way to the weekend with nothing in the old blogger bank.


People take pictures of each other
just to prove that they really existed.
People take pictures of each other,
so the moment should last them for ever
of the time when they mattered to someone.

— Ray Davies, "People Take Pictures of Each Other", 1968.

I've been looking at an album of the oldest photographs I have of my childhood. The selection of moments preserved there is so different from the ones preserved in my memory. The photos are familiar and yet strange. And images I wish I had preserved are not there.

Family photographs are full of special events. We can see how we looked on vacation trips, on birthdays, on graduations. Of those events, only random moments were captured, not always the ones we remember. But of daily life, orders of magnitude fewer moments. I don't have a picture of my childhood bedroom. I don't have a picture of the bathroom. I don't have a picture of the corner where I got on the school bus every morning for eight years.

Some of my childhood friends are only memories, missing in all of the photographs. My parents never even met some of my school friends, and I never took a camera to school. People and things that were important to me once are just not there in the album.

So the album feels a little strange. It's like someone snapped images of my life but didn't understand which scenes I would want to see again later. Actually that's exactly what happened.

Of course I realize why. If you see something every day, you don't need a photograph of it. And then it's gone, or more often you're gone, gone from that place or that routine, maybe happy to be gone. Then some time later it occurs to you that something once so familiar has been taken from you, and it cannot come back.

Picture yourself when you're getting old.
You sit by the fireside a-pondering a
picture book: pictures of your mama,
taken by your papa, a long time ago,
picture book: of people with each other,
to prove they loved each other, a long time ago.

— Ray Davies, "Picture Book", 1968.

And what is there? The album is full of mysteries. Why do I have a photograph of this?

Some of the photos are bizarre. Here's my dad, smiling, in his thirties, holding a pigeon. I showed him this one last year and asked what was going on. He had no idea. No, he certainly did not keep pigeons, and he was sure none of the neighbors did. He could not think of any explanation at all. It's a great picture of him though. He's looking at my mom taking the photo.

Equally puzzling is this one. That's me, three years old. It's from a group of five photos taken on my birthday. This is what I have. It's ripped in half. Why? Whose arm is that? My mom wrote on the back of one photo, "Joe's b-day, age 3". Thanks for that much, mom. But oh, if only you'd left a note on the back of this one to say what offense this child or its family committed, that all but an arm needed to be crudely ripped from the pages of history.

This next one is me and my mom at the Pocono Game Farm, the same year. I like her hat. Like most kids I hated animals slobbering on me, so game farms were a trial, but it looks like I wanted to feel the wool of this black sheep.

Here's a silly memory. At some point in my childhood I got new pants that annoyed me because I could not get them on or off with my shoes on. The pants I have here? Not those pants. I guess very loose-fitting pants went out of fashion when I was little. I can no longer think of a good reason to put on my shoes before my pants. What strange little habits I had.

Now, this next one is the prize. I've just been getting you ready.

My mom wrote this on the back:
taken in Superama / Super Market / Paramus N J / Oct 1955. The photo print does not match any of the others I have, and it's been cut with scissors on the sides. A bit mysterious.

You'll notice that I've got a child-size shopping cart, and it has artfully arranged merchandise in it. I've enlarged this one (click on it) so you can get a look at the period products.

Silvercup Bread! See the silver cup logo on the end there? There's also a miniature loaf in the cart with the same wrapper. I showed this to Helen and she remembers small loaves being available but not why. The thing between them with "19" on it may also be a loaf of bread.

Under the big loaf is a box of Burry's cookies. "Heavens to Betsy, Burry's are good". The tartan and the apparent "LO" makes me think Lorna Doone, but that was a Nabisco brand, so I wonder what name Burry's used. See how the package was made? I'm pretty sure it's a cardboard box with a wax paper wrapper glued over it. Printing directly onto boxes came later.

Near my hand is the book Tom and Jerry in Tom's Happy Birthday. Tom and Jerry were the violent cat and mouse team from M G M that inspired the insanely violent Itchy and Scratchy on The Simpsons. I guess Tom was the cat. Amazon will hook you up with dealers who have a paperback of this book.

The strangest thing here, to me, is the box of Mallomars under the small Silvercup loaf. I do not remember ever eating Mallomars. I have had a lifelong dislike of marshmallow. Don't ask me why. It tastes funny, OK? Let it go. It's not a major food group. My dad was a Brooklyn kid. Did he like us to buy Mallomars when they were in season?

Or was the cart a prop, and the photograph a promotional thing for a new store? It's not a Polaroid though, and it seems expensively elaborate to mail parents photos of their kids. But maybe that's what they did.

I remember us always shopping at the A & P in town. My mom's dad had been an A & P store manager in Pleasantville NY. She probably had her brand loyalty set in childhood.

One more. Three years later. I'm home in the living room.

My reading matter there is the Sunday News comic section. Some comics got a full page! I'm going to take a real leap and guess that the one on the left-hand page is "Little Orphan Annie" with the smaller panels of the one-line "Maw Green" strip at the bottom.

The toys on the floor belong to my sister. The thing in the middle of the table by the window is a china planter in the form of a donkey pulling a wagon. Now there is something I would never remember without this picture. But it comes back to me now like I can almost feel its smooth surfaces and smell the wet dirt in the planter. Memory is a weird thing.

This is a great photo. Nothing special is happening, and we get to see some of the room in its normal condition. This was everyday life.

Hee hee hee. Those socks are crazy. I don't remember them at all.

Next time: Schoolmaster.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Outdoor Art in South Orange

We've got art all over the place in South Orange. You can't get away from it. Last weekend I went out to take photos of a few pieces, and I've chosen my favorite five.

Visitors should notice that two of these works are on private property. Please view them only from the sidewalk.


Bottle Piece. Artist unknown, 2009. Installation of cut plastic bottles. Private property, Grove Street near South Orange Avenue. Possibly still in progress.

I first saw the piece in June, in the green grass and the shade of the trees. I think it might look even better now with more sunlight and autumn leaves on the ground. I look forward to viewing it after a snowfall and in the bright green of springtime.


Leaning Tower of South Orange. Architect unknown, circa 1915. Stone rubble structure with modern metal door. Cameron Field, Mead Street near the Rahway River.

Like the famous tower in Pisa, this one was not originally meant to be leaning but has been maintained in its fortuitous state. The interior is not open to visitors. From the roof there would be a fine view of the Rahway River.

Although the building was meant for some humdrum official purpose, the needless castellated roof shows a sense of humor on the part of the original builders, and the mood is carried on by the vertical paint boundary on the right side of the doorknob hardware.


Tau. Tony Smith, designed 1962 and constructed 2006. Steel construction. Cameron Field, Ridgewood Road at Mead Street.

This is quite a controversial piece because not everyone in town considers it good value for money. Before its public dedication it was defaced by graffiti (now painted over) including the words "POOP" and "$250,000". That was terribly wrong. The cost was in fact approximately $355,000 (Star Ledger, November 21, 2008). Of this at least $175,000 was township money, but I have not been able to find a breakdown of costs and funding sources anywhere online including the official site The irony of it is that the piece is considered a gift to the township, where the artist once lived. An earlier copy of the same piece is at Hunter College in Manhattan, and a third copy may be allowed eventually as per the artist's wishes.

I did not notice in real life what my photograph shows: that from this angle, the piece forms three two-dimensional parallelograms. That's pretty cool, but it does not remain true from other angles.

PS: Christmas is coming, and if you're thinking of getting me something, that's kind of you, but please don't choose a gift that will cost me $355,000.


South Orange.
Michael Maier, circa 2002. Mixed materials. South Orange Middle School, Ridgewood Road.

Michael Maier, a commercial art director who lives in town, designed and fabricated a faux weathervane for the middle school featuring a large S and an arrow pointing south, an orange with leaves, and the word "Middle". As I have previously noted elsewhere, the leaves look to me like pumpkin leaves. But I will not complain. The artist personally climbed a ladder and refreshed the paint on the work in 2009, so he's all right with me.

As I recall, this work first appeared during the time my daughter attended the "pink prison" seen in the background. That's how I am guessing the date.


Gita's Garden. Artist unknown, in progress since circa 2004. Installation of sculptures, various materials. Private property, Wyoming Avenue north of South Orange Avenue.

I've driven past this large installation over the past few years, but I could give it no more than a passing glance from the car. It deserves much more time. I'm glad I finally looked at it on foot. It could be that I have a weakness for large, elaborately detailed things.

The central piece, seen above, provides the name and dedication. The two views below show most (but not all) of the installation, looking south and north along the public sidewalk.

I chose a few details, seen below. One of the figures along the sidewalk is a pelican that was in an appropriate pool of water following recent rain. Three bears are among the figures along the north side of the drive. Whether the individual pieces were found or made specifically for the installation is not known.

My earliest memory of the installation was of the large cat seen below, and it may have been the first figure on the property. It has been moved around as the piece has developed and grown in size. A few years ago the cat was near the north side and painted black like a panther. In its current bronze color it is close to the south boundary, and has been augmented with a bird perched on its head.


Now I bet you wish you lived here, right? You could soak up the creative energy and then go do great things, no matter what it is you do.

Next time: Superama.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Beats Me

Did you ever wish you could make that perfect comment? More precisely, did you get into a situation where later on you thought of something you should have said that would have been killer if you could have said it when it mattered? This is why people on sitcoms sound so smart. Their writers can take a little time and think about it. The rest of us can't do that.


I remember one good comment I did have in time.

When I was a supervisor in the library, they had a speaker come in to give an all-day thing to a group of us middle manager types, so we could learn about our strengths and weaknesses and do some team building and become better people. One thing I'll tell you: stay with the plane. If you don't know what that means, just wait till you go to one of these things.

Among other activities we took a written test called the Multiphasic Personality Inventory. I love the name. Right? I want to find something I'm working on that I can call multiphasic. People will respect that. "Joe? He's busy developing the multiphasic email spam blocker." "Wow."

It was that test that told me I should never ever take a job where I have to talk to human beings.

Anyway, we were looking at our results, and my friend Seth said, "It says here I'm predictable."

And immediately I told him, "I knew you'd say that."

That was a hell of a long time ago.


Another time I couldn't think of a joke. A bunch of us were sitting around in a backyard having a couple of beers, and anyone who could think of a joke told it. A few of us came up empty. Well, I thought of the one about the diving tramp, but it's really long and maybe some of them had heard it. I like that one, but I wanted to think of something more obscure that fitted my sense of humor. I have standards.

On my way home, I invented an original joke.

There were these two sheep farmers walking through a field. It was a farmer and his neighbor farmer.

Now this area had been in sheep farming for a long time, and the farms were separated by ancient stone walls and old wooden fences. If they fell into disrepair, the sheep could wander off their own farm and into neighboring properties.

The custom had developed that if you found a neighbor's sheep, you would bring it back where it belonged. The sheep were all marked on the ear, so you would know who they belonged to.

The farmer complained to his neighbor. "These farmers just don't take care like I do. They don't do repairs and they do careless things. The other day I found a place where a fool had piled up hay bales next to a stone wall, and of course a few of his sheep had walked up the bales and over the wall into my land. And I had to go bring them back. I spend too much time bringing sheep back where they belong."

"I've had enough. From now on, I'm going to just keep the sheep. If they want their sheep back, they can come get them, and I'll charge them for the feed."

"Now I know you take care. If one of your sheep manages to get out, I'll bring it back. I hardly ever see one of yours. That's how it should be. But the rest of these farmers, forget it."

As they walked along they came over a rise, and there they found a sheep nibbling grass.

"Now look at that," the farmer said. "I know I just put all my sheep in the barn. This one's not mine. This is it. I am taking this sheep."

"But wait," he said. "I guess there's a chance it's yours. I don't have my glasses with me. Would you take a look at its ear and..."

Oh no. Look away. Look away, before it's too late.

"...stop me if you herd this one."

I warned you. Maybe it's a good thing that I couldn't think of this while I was there.


This next one's a really lame comment, but I had a second chance with it, and you don't get that too often. And I want to demonstrate what can happen.

About a month ago, I was on my way to work, walking to the railway station. As you know I expect Runner Girl to pass me along the way, going the same direction as me.

On that day, unexpectedly, I saw her running toward me. That meant she was doing her run about a half hour later than normal. And this woman is like clockwork. She's the only runner I see at the same time every day. I nodded at her, and she said "hi" and kept going. Then I thought I should have had a comment on this unusual meeting.

Actually I thought of saying, "You're running late", but that pun is too bad even for me, so I decided I should just say "You're late". That would be enough. She was at least a block away by this time, so, so much for that thought.

But wait. Just this past Monday it happened again! I will write the next paragraphs day by day.

Monday: Runner Girl was running toward me, and I got myself ready, and after she smiled and waved, she passed me, and I turned and said, "You're late". No reaction. All I could see was her back as she moved away.

Tuesday: Day off. When I have a weekday off I do my usual walk and run, but I do it about an hour later. This overlaps into the time Runner Girl is out, so occasionally I see her. If she realizes that I usually go out earlier, and she saw me today, then she could say to me, "You're late". The very next day. How perfect is that? Would she think of it? Probably she would. However, I didn't see her.

Wednesday: I didn't see her today either. I was walking to the station at the normal time. Strange. Oh no. Maybe I have ruined it with that careless remark. Has she changed her route?

Thursday: Nothing, again.
A moment of sadness. Has she moved away?

Friday: And... nothing. The new normal? Damn cold this morning though. I didn't run myself. I don't know whether she runs in the winter at all. I wasn't paying attention before I wrote Runner Girl. But I have a bad feeling. "You're late"... why did I need to say that?

See, kids? Be careful with those comments.


One more.

This one's about one of those computer programs that can play chess. There's a programmer who has a friend who's a chess grand master, so they're working on one of these programs together. The programmer has put in all the rules, and hundreds of gambits or whatever they call them, and even the course of a thousand championship games with the good moves noted.

The chess grand master keeps playing against the computer. He wins sometimes, and says that it shows how the human brain is more adaptable. But it makes the programmer add more data. As time goes on, the grand master loses more and more, and eventually he gets discouraged.

"I don't want to work on the project any more", says the grand master.

"But why?", says the programmer.

"It beats me", says the grand master.

Yeah. Sorry, that's about it.

Next time: Outdoor Art in South Orange.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


This was a tough week. I started writing something called "Check-up", but it did not work out, and then I was sick for a few days, and then Saturday came round, and what have I got? Nothing. But lucky for you I thought of something that caught my interest a few months ago, and I took a walk Saturday and shot some photos, and here you go.

Also: while I was home sick I had that salad with dill weed for lunch both days, and I have added a photograph of it to Dill Weed, so go back and look at it. It will make you hungry.


One morning when I was walking the six-mile loop that takes me through South Mountain Reservation, I came back downhill on a different street, and saw something strange. There was some kind of monument down at the end of a dead-end street.

There was a concrete barrier fence, protecting drivers and pedestrians from going any farther, and a bronze plaque on a concrete pylon. WTF? I had to detour to see what it was.

What event or person might the plaque commemorate? And why here? What special thing could lay at the end of this backwater street?

A reservoir.

As a resident of South Orange Village, I know that my water is supplied by the East Orange Water Commission, so I am not totally surprised to see the Water Department of the City of East Orange making its presence known here.

I took a look over the barrier. If your idea of a reservoir is a large lake, this will disappoint you. It's a covered reservoir.

There is quite a drop, but all you can see below, through the trees, is a level field of grass. Here's a photo that doesn't show you much. The field of grass is fenced in and protected by signs that say: NO / TRESPASSING / WATER SUPPLY / AREA / EAST ORANGE WATER COMMISSION.

I can tell when I am not welcome. But later on, after walking around, I found myself in a place where I could get a good picture of the reservoir roof. I'll explain where I was shortly. If you go there, you'll find the fence is incomplete, but it's pretty clear that they don't want people walking around on the roof, so I'll ask you to follow my example and keep off it.

On their web site, the East Orange Water Commission describe how this reservoir fits into the water supply system:

To supply the residents of East Orange and South Orange, the Commission derives its water supply from four well fields in the 2300+ acre East Orange Water Reserve. The water is obtained from eighteen (18) artesian wells supplied by the great Passaic Aquifer, created during the last Ice Age. The water is forced from the wells through conduits to the East Orange Pumping Station, where it is minimally treated and then pumped to an underground reservoir in Maplewood. From this reservoir, it flows via gravity into the distribution system and to the consumer’s house tap at which point it first sees the light of day.

The fact that the water is never exposed to daylight until it reaches the consumers' premises accounts for its purity, coolness, and general excellent quality.

The water reserve they mention is along the Passaic River, not far from the Mall at Short Hills. The water supply system dates back to 1903, so the work commemorated by the monument of 1939 must be for an enlargement of an older reservoir.

And I found two older related structures.

The first one is a block away, at a higher elevation, on the far side of South Orange Avenue. From the reservoir all you have to do is go maybe 150 feet northeast through a wooded lot and then across the avenue.

Notice the level field right behind this building, which must be another covered reservoir .

"Village of South Orange, 1912". Maybe water for South Orange is pumped here for local distribution. This reservoir is about 100 feet higher, which would help reach the houses on the hill in South Orange. From here, also, a run of about 500 feet west and north, up the hill, brings you to a huge water tank. I took a photo of it back in 2002.

Leaping Lizards! The Martians have landed! This thing was required to supply water by gravity to the houses in Newstead, the neighborhood on the top of the mountain. It's probably from the 1950s, judging by the style of the fake ranch house in front of it with the overly large garage. I love the lightning rods (or antennae to signal forces in space when the time is right).

The oldest building related to the reservoir is on its downhill side, right out on Wyoming Avenue.

The mound of earth behind it is the same reservoir as the one behind the concrete monument. The steps look pretty inviting for a walk on the wooded hillside, and there's no fence until you get farther up, but there are ancient signs forbidding trespassing. You can see them on the trees left and right of the building.

"East Orange Water Works" and "Erected A D 1904". (It became the Commission in 1909.) This is a pleasing little building. I like the yellow brick, and the cut stone corners, and the tiled roof. Maybe those big windows mean that at one time you were allowed to see the machinery inside, back when cities were proud of their public works, and not afraid of vandals.

You must be confused by now, so here is the lay of the land, courtesy GIS mapping from the Township of Maplewood's web site. I've circled the three structures and named them 1939, 1912, and 1904 respectively. The reservoir is the L shaped open space between 1939 and 1904, marked with a 107, for its address, 107 Wyoming Avenue. The South Orange reservoir is just above the 1912 building, and from there if you look left and up, you can see the big tank at the top edge of the image.

Look along the southwest edge of the reservoir. See Cedar Lane? If you're there on the ground you could easily overlook it. It's an ancient road. The portion from South Orange Avenue to Wyoming Avenue has not been open to traffic in a very long time, but the township map still shows it as a public right of way.

After I took photos of the 1912 building, I went into South Mountain Reservation tried to follow Cedar Lane down the hill. I went down next to "The Top" (marked with all those 616s) and found the right of way running between the fence of the reservoir property and the backyard fences of houses on Woodhill Drive. The smaller circle about halfway down Cedar Lane, near my 1939 circle, is where I took the photo of the top of the reservoir. I was going to continue down from there, but the way was so overgrown that I turned back and used Woodhill Drive to go down.

The other small circle, near 1904, is where I took a photo of Cedar Lane looking up from Wyoming Avenue.

It looks like this is the end of Cedar Lane, doesn't it? It's the end of the part you can drive on. But you can see the rest of it, right in the center of the photograph, covered with leaves, between the driveways to those two houses. It's paved with stone blocks for a short distance. I know that I walked up there about ten years ago and had no trouble reaching South Orange Avenue. So I think its condition has deteriorated in that time.

Here is a street map of the Oranges from 1889 and a Hagstrom map of Essex County, both showing Cedar Lane running all the way through.

One of the books I read for the Stone House essays indicated that Cedar Lane is the original path of the road over the mountain, replaced more than 200 years ago by the straight lines of South Orange Avenue. The 1889 map shows accurately that the alignments diverge at the curve. In the field, the old right of way can still be made out , running along the south side of modern South Orange Avenue, but going downhill a little more steeply. It turns right at the "The Top" property and runs almost straight from there.

The Hagstrom map was drawn in the 1930s. It shows Harding Drive South running through to Cedar Lane, which may have been planned before the reservoir expansion commemorated in the monument of 1939, but whether was ever graded is unknown. At the date of the map I scanned, 1953, I doubt the upper part of Cedar Lane was still open to traffic.

Besides that, though, an old couple who used to live next to us told me once that Cedar Lane was not passable from Wyoming Avenue to Ridgewood Road either until the 1960s, with mounds of earth blocking the way. The houses along Cedar Lane and the parts of Lenox Terrace and Lenox Place in Maplewood all appear to me to date from the 1960s. But there are a few sections of old stone walls on the south side where it borders Washington Park, as if the builders there had allowed for Cedar Lane's existence. Hagstrom thoughtfully provides us with house numbers from 2 to 172 for West Cedar Lane, although there was not a single address on it in 1953.

See? I take a little walk around the neighborhood, and look what weird stuff turns up.

I'll tell you what I'm going to do now.

I'm going to go have a glass of water. The old aqua pura. Crystal clear liquid ice. Dihydrogen monoxide that has not seen the light of day till it drips from my tap. Mmmm.

All photographs were taken October 31, 2009, except the one of the big tank, which is a 35mm film photo from 2002. The Cedar Lane maps are from Rutgers University's New Jersey Historical Maps (1889) and my collection (1953).

Next time: Beats me.
(That's not a title, it's a comment. It's not an essay called Beats me. But that would be an interesting title. Hm.)