Saturday, May 18, 2013

Stuck in a booth in Secaucus

November 6, 1985

I’m in Secaucus again.
I seem to be repeating myself, an aggravating habit I just can’t seem to kick, time going round and round with the changes so small as to seem insignificant.
Yet there are changes.
My first visit here came near the beginning of the summer. I was Bonnie’s gopher and found myself in a panic after the first ten minutes in this Fotomat booth. The cars just didn’t want to stop.
There was no single-storied building behind me then. In fact, I watched that rise slowly from the ground during subsequent trips here, pile drivers shoving steel beams deep into the earth. By that time, Bob Adams was my boss and he commented on the need of such beams, speculating that the building had to be at least three stories high.
Before that, there was only earth and an old style donut shop called Mr. Donut, with faded pink and blue paint, and rats in its trash.
The donut shop is still there, but has undergone a name change, and perhaps and ownership change, too – only now it is included in the new building along with a line of other small shops, less outlandish, but still reminiscent of the old silver sided diners that Dunkin and other donut stores were based on.
The new building is one of a number of changes such as Harmon Cove down by the water and a perceived need to upscale the town’s image from the pig farms it once had here.
People don’t want to be perceived as poor or even too hillbilly and so they pass laws to keep people from raising farm animals and construct new buildings on the bones of old ones, hoping that the world will think this place is different than it once was, when down deep it can’t be, until this generation dies out.
Other places charge more dramatically by fire – Hoboken most frequently, and where I live in Passaic – with the suspicious fire on my block last Labor Day that wiped out the industrial base of the city and killed a Secaucus fire fighter who had struggled to keep the flames from crossing the street to the building I lived in.
But whatever plan the mayor had after that fire doesn’t seemed to have worked. No Harmon Cove will rise on the Passaic River the way it did here on the banks of the Hackensack. Even the plans to tear down the old Tuck Tape factory a few blocks from my house seem like wishful thinking.
I suppose the master’s of finance do not consider Passaic close enough to the money-rich race track and sports complex the gambling industry built in East Rutherford, while this place filled with pig farmers might more readily get hoodwinked into thinking all this new construction is being done on their behalf.
At night, when I’m driving up the Turnpike from my mother’s house, I see the glow of the sport complex and the glare of lights that fills the Meadowlands, I even see the twinkle of Harmon Cove, an Oz-like place being magically transformed from something real and solid, into something like a fairytale, and even though I remember the stench of the slaughter houses from when my grandfather used to drive through this part of the planet, it seems a more honest scent to me than the stink of fast food I catch these days along the highway.
It’s all personal preference, I guess.

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