Two Dead Ends  (for Dave Mandl)

By Bob Rixon

I lived on a dead end street in Linden New Jersey for twelve years. The street terminated at an unmarked entrance to a county park bordering U.S. Route One.  A funky bar at that end of the block rented out a little picnic grove for political & Polish Club picnics. For several of those years a young woman living in an apartment across the street wore a bikini in the summer when she walked her dog. A mildly retarded guy next door recycled my old newspapers - I didn't even have to tie them up, he rolled a wheelbarrow around for them. Coincidentally, a decade earlier my garage band had played at a Sweet Sixteen Party on that obscure street, for a girl who had been kissed by George Harrison when The Beatles arrived at McGuire Air Force Base.

Last summer, I walked on the "nature" boardwalk behind the Rahway waste incinerator for the first & probably only time. Beginning at a busy road,  it winds along a tidal section of Rahway River.  The walk  isn't made of boards, but of some  ugly plastic imitation that splits in the sun like old linoleum. The first fifty yards were fine - nice view, chirping birds, neat little benches. As I walked  farther, behind the huge, windowless incinerator,  the pathway ominously began to deteriorate; broken benches;  weeds growing between the cracks, tangled  brambles overhanging the fence, ripping at my arms; overflowing trash cans. The boardwalk ended in a cul du sac, a nasty, isolated place, 
desolate, rat-infested, surrounded by high fences, at a bend in the river just short of where it becomes navigable for small boats.   A large, busy hornets nest hung  beneath a smashed bench.  A perfect druggy hangout - if the cops went back there any drugs could easily be tossed over the fence & weeds into the river. If one were followed to that place by a criminal, even in broad daylight, there is no escape, no one within shouting distance, & one's body could be rotting there for days, food for rats & seagulls, before being discovered by some horrified crackhead. The owners of the incinerator were made to provide the "improvements" as part of their deal with the city & the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

© Bob Rixon 2003

The wallpaper on this page is a satellite view of  where Great Bay Boulevard  stretches across miles of  salt  marsh, nearly reaching Long Beach Island,  perhaps the best dead end road  in New Jersey.