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16
Feb 24

A nice package arrived today

On the front porch, and a day earlier than anticipated, was a box with two books inside. I found these online, on e-Bay, actually, in one of the more fruitful examples of late night insomnia. The prices were low and right and the end of the auctions were listed during the Super Bowl.

No one was paying attention to e-Bay. But I have a particular set of skills, and so I was paying attention to e-Bay and watching the game and silently wondering, for about the sixth year in a row, why we still get worked up about the commercials which were — not exactly pedestrian — but standard fare for the most part. Many commercials are well done these days, so you have to really stand out with celebrities, but they’re in spots all the time. Many commercials are good. And so even the good commercials debuted during the Super Bowl didn’t stand out too much, except for the ones that were obviously going to be controversial in some corner of the web. And that wretched Temu ad.

But I digress. I won both auctions. The nice lady who sold me the books offered to combine shipping and, today, they have arrived.

I opened the box, and inside were two large Ziploc bags. Inside each bag was a book. That book was wrapped in guerilla-resistance strength cling wrap. And, beneath, that a two layer roll of bubble wrap.

The woman who sold me these books really understands me.

Inside the first bubble wrapped, shrink wrapped, Ziploc bag was this.

That’s the 1912 Glomerata, the yearbook from my alma mater. This book is 102 years old, and the cover is showing that age. Even if it does need rebinding, the pages inside are basically perfect. The cover, particularly of the older books, is where the fun is.

Longtime readers know I collect the Glomeratas. It seemed like a good thing to get. They make a handsome bookcase. And it’s a unique thing to acquire. I know of two other people who dabbled in this. And, importantly, it is a finite thing. The first Glom was published in 1897. (I don’t have that one, so if you get a lead … ) and the last, latest one I’ll collect was the 2016 book. There are 120 in between. (One year they published two books.) I have 112 of them.

As I said, it’s a handsome book bookcase.

The other book was the 1907 Glomerata. It has been rebound. It’s a generic black cover. No need to show you that, but what’s inside is also where the fun is.

I just spent a few minutes flipping through the 1907 book. The highest quality photos are the studio head shots and the posed group photos. There are a few candid action shots, but they are all small. It was a limitation of cameras 117 years ago. There are some cool drawings inside the older books. This one was on the page introducing the students who put the yearbook together.

That was done by a guy named F. Roy Duncan, a senior. His blurb in the yearbook says he learned to draw in an English class there, and I’m not sold on his proficiency as an artist, or as an English student. But he becomes a talented engineer and architect. Born in Columbus, Georgia, educated at Auburn. He worked in Pittsburgh, and then on the Panama Canal. It seems he stayed down there for about three years, contributing to electrical, mechanical and structural engineering projects. And then he returned to Columbus.

Some six years after that photo was taken at school, he became an architect. Among his achievements are more than a half-dozen homes still standing in various historical districts (here’s one), the Taylor County (Georgia) courthouse and parts of this Columbus church. They all survive him, as did his wife, and this art. He had a heart attack while fishing and died, at 61, in 1947.

And so we’re going to have to look at these books. And all of the rest of the collection, over time. Because I also recently picked up a nice desktop document camera. These were the first three photos I took with it, and I’m pleased. It’s a little slow and awkward as I figure out the workflow, but it seems much better than trying to take a photo on my phone, emailing it to myself and then editing thing. At the very least I’ve got out two steps in the process. And so, next week, I’ll open a book and point it at the camera.

I think I’ll probably start in the 1940s.

But first, I have to add these two covers to the Glomerata collection on the site.

(Four minutes elapse.)

There, now the 1907 and 1912 volumes have been added to my Gloms cover collection. I’ve just noticed four or five other covers which haven’t been digitized, but I’ll get to them soon. And, as of this writing, these are the only ones I need to add to the collection: 1899, 1900, 1902, 1905, 1906, 1909, 1911, 1913, 1915, 1916.

Beyond a certain point, as you can imagine, they are difficult to find.

I just wrote 800-plus words about things that are only of interest to me! Let’s show you some diving photos, which I know you’ve been waiting for, patiently, and get you in to your weekend.

There is absolutely positively nothing like just … hanging there in the water. It’s so captivating that I spend time on most dives just watching other people do it. Like my dive buddy!

This is a shot-from-the-hip of a woman that was on one of our dive boats with us. She just happened to float over, or I swam under, or whatever it was, and I looked up. I love these shots, and I include it here as a reminder to myself to take more of them, which can only be done by more diving.

Dive boat dynamics are interesting. Unless you go as a big unruly group you’re surrounded by strangers. These are two-tank dives, which means you go out, take the first dive, and then enjoy another, all without having to return to land. For safety reasons that have to do with the chemistry of your blood under the mild pressures involved with reef diving, you take a surface interval. So you wind up talking to people. And they’re often just fascinating. This dive had a bishop from Miami, a high powered business man from Denver, this woman, who is in pediatric medicine and, of course, us. Plus there’s the captain and the divemaster, who is an underwater welder doing this in his free time. That’s an awesome amount of brain power on one little vessel, and also me.

So you wind up having some interesting chats. Usually it’s about equipment, things you just saw, how your diving has been, something innocuous from back home. It’s small talk. And you’re all the best of friends.

Except now I can’t remember anyone’s names.

I don’t know if she got to see this turtle. Not everyone on that dive did. But that’s the breaks. Sometimes you see the high profile sea life, and other times you hear about it and appreciate what you were able to find. But we found this giant turtle.

That’s easily a three-foot shell. Easily.

OK, that’s enough for now. Enjoy your weekend! (We’re getting snow.)


15
Feb 24

It’s Spanish for “shark” (there’s a shark in the photos below)

Site news! I just sold this place! Some joker is buying it for $1.3 million and I’m cashing out! See ya, suckers!

That would be about what I’d say if that were true. And if Kenny “The Jet” Smith’s people want to call me — as we have a longstanding social relationship — which earned me a piece in a textbook a few years back …

Worth a shot.

No, here is the actual site news. The front page photos have been updated. It is now diving-themed once again. For example, a larger version of this photo is there.

There are 10 images in the current rotation. I’ll three rotations of 10 each for a while. That should keep us until the front page needs re-freshening with some other amazing photographs, or when The Jet buys me out, whichever comes first.

That was one of the things on the day’s list. Updating the front of the site, not selling out.

(Seriously, Jet, my number is 555 …)

There were eight things on that list when I closed my computer last night. And I managed to do six of those things today, and did some other work prep besides, so I am satisfied with the effort.

One thing I did, of course, was take a little bike ride down in the Smith Indoor Training Center. I did 66 minutes, which is about where my enthusiasm has dwindled the past few rides, come to think of it.

I did an actual training ride, today, an anaerobic capacity into VO2 exercise. I did this because I read a site recently which said that, without a training plan, I was just doing junk miles. Miles for miles’ sake. I was fine with that, of course, until someone put that particular name to it. My base miles are not junk. And they’ve come with some real exertion. But today I did this interval workout with five sets above my wattage threshold and set some new Strava PRs in the process. Behold! My phone!

I took Tuesday off from riding, opting for quality time, instead. It must have been the right choice because I didn’t feel bad about it, or second guess myself in the moment. Even still, today was my 20th ride in the last 21 days, which is a fair amount for a duffer like me.

On my cycling spreadsheet — everyone has one — I have a page that shows the best of each month. So I know what my most prolific July is, which year had the most miles in August, which September saw the most pedal strokes, and so on. (2011, 2023, 2014, respectively.) I have a separate column for February, because it’s February. And February of 2023 is my most successful year, for now. But that mark is going to get crushed, probably before the end of this week.

We’ll look back on this month and see the asterisk, but the asterisk will be about the leap day, definitely not about junk miles.

Meanwhile, back under water, since I told you about the front page updates and we’re still working our way through the photos from our last dive trip. I found one where my lovely dive buddy is actually demonstrating evidence of breathing.

The first rule of diving is just keep breathing. That’s actually a rule. I got quizzed on one of the dive boats because, someone has to be the fall guy and the divemaster asked me about the first rule. I said, “To make sure my partner comes back up. And also to keep breathing.”

I started diving at the beginning of the George H.W. Bush administration. That guy was just going to have to overlook my flip little joke.

Tortuga!

That’s Jennifer, one of the famous turtles of Palancar Reef. I believe she was trying to introduce us to her friend. Do you see that little overhang she seems to be working her way to there? Can you see what is underneath it?

Now you can.

Tiburón!

If you’ve been enjoying views from under the sea just off the coast of Cozumel, not to worry. I have a few dozen more photographs, and a lot of videos to work through.


2
Nov 23

‘On your yellow bucket seat’

Today was Copeland Cookie Day in my classes. (And so was Monday.) Dr. Gary Copeland was a professor of mine. He retired soon after my cohort, and he passed away not too long after that. He didn’t get enough time with his beloved grandchildren, and no one got enough time with a widely beloved man. He was a giant of a scholar, a sweet-hearted man who always did a lot for his students.

In one class, he’d bring cookies, put away the syllabus and talk about whatever seemed important: conferences, papers, dealing with colleagues. A lot of the most important things we learned came from that non-class.

Because of that, that’s why I have a Copeland Cookie Day. I bring in snacks, put aside the plans and, for a few minutes, we just talk about industry, courses, war stories, whatever.

After classes were over we went for a run. It was too late in the day for a run. It was too late, which made it too cold. So I only did a quick mile, but I did see this part of the far side of the sunset.

I need to find my running gloves. And start dressing better than shorts and a t-shirt. ‘Tis the season, and all. Only, I have no idea where my running gloves are. I knew where they were, in a drawer, right by the refrigerator. But that was in the old house. And that was in June, in the chaos of packing our stuff when the packers no-showed, and when it was the middle of summer when gloves weren’t exactly a priority.

Where are they now? No idea, but mother nature is a necessity.

Since we’re at the beginning of the month, let’s look at the year’s cycling graph.

The blue line represents mileage I would accrue if I road seven miles a day, a basically arbitrary number I picked at the beginning of the year when I started this spreadsheet. Seven miles, on average, seemed doable.

Then I added columns, and lines, for nine and 10 miles per day. That’s why those three lines are nice and steady, daily projections are consistent, steady, reassuring.

But that purple line, that’s the one that reflects my actual mileage.

As I say so often, I need to ride more. Tomorrow, then.

But tonight, we dive back into the Re-Listening project. I’m playing all of my old CDs in the car, and in the order in which I acquired them. Right now, we’re in the summer of of 2003, when Guster’s “Keep It Together,” their fourth studio album, was released.

This is the first Guster album where the Thunder God, Brian Rosenworcel, played on a drum kit rather than his legendary hand percussion.

A bunch of musician’s musicians — Ron Aniello, Ben Kweller, Joe Pisapia, Josh Rouse and more — appear on the record, which peaked at number 35 on the Billboard Top 200. Thirteen tracks, I like 12 of them, and I love 11 of them. It’s a record that comes up a lot for me, and so the flashes of memories span, well, two decades now.

This is the first track, which was a trippy departure to hear as the first sounds on the thing.

“Careful” was released as a single, and it went to number 30 on the charts.

This was the lead single, which the label released before the album. “Amsterdam” climbers to the 20 spot on the charts. The band said, and you could never tell if it was a joke, that they wrote this just to get the label to fund a trip to Amsterdam for the video.

I think it was a joke.

Someone told me that this song reminded them of me. All melancholy and what not. I’m not sure if she didn’t understand the song or the word melancholy. Apparently, all of the guest musicians were allowed to record one pass (and only one pass) on this song. They didn’t hear the song before they played, or told chords or instruments. I don’t understand how that would even work out, but it’s a triumph. And not about a melancholy me.

“Jesus on the Radio” is now a crowd favorite singalong. They usually do this on stage as unplugged as possible, and if you look around on YouTube tons of fan videos have been uploaded. It’s odd that the band hasn’t done more with that fervor, he said mischievously. Here’s a version with Pisapia (who toured as the fourth member for seven years) on banjo.

There is a high quality version on the “Guster on Ice” DVD, also featuring Pisapia.

Here’s a more recent version, from four or five years ago, long after Luke Reynolds joined the band.

And, as the O’Malley family proved, most anything in your kitchen can be a percussion instrument.

Not just the O’Malleys, but all of their musical fans cover it and record it and upload “Jesus on the Radio,” too. And a few years ago the band made a supercut, and somehow, despite the changes in tempo from version to version, it mostly works. Except for that one.

I could do this all day. And I usually do, on Jesus on the Radio day, March 16th. I actually have the t-shirt. It was a Christmas gift a few years back.

Here’s the title track.

I could do this with the whole album, but I’ll wrap it up with a version of “Come Downstairs and Say Hello,” a thoroughly underrated song when it gets going, and, here, with symphonic accompaniment.

You will discover, about three minutes in, why the Thunder God is so named. It’s one of the few times on that particular record when he went back to his roots. (As I recall he was basically learning how to play a drum kit while they produced this record, partly to change the sound of the record, but, I think, also to give his hands something of a break.) Also, in the second half of that version, the brass, and certain of the strings make it sound absolutely triumphant. I wish they hadn’t come into the song until then.

I have the T-shirt featur that song too. I guess I should finally buy a Guster Is For Lovers shirt, to solidify my OG cred.

Original Guster cred, that is. I go back to the spring of 1997, when Guster Is For Lovers was one of the two things they sold.


30
Oct 23

Bikes and barns and books

Have you been enjoying Catober? Sadly it comes to an end this week. Cats are feted around here all year, but tomorrow is the last official day of Catober. Don’t worry, the kitties have some bonus photos planned for you. As ever, they like the spotlight. Which is why, next week, we’ll return to the regular Monday cat updates.

If you somehow missed some of this year’s Catober, click that link and scroll backward. There are five years of Catober photos with Phoebe and Poseidon to scroll through. Five years. Doesn’t seem like that should be the case. Time flies when you’re counting purr cycles.

Sorry, I had to hold a cat for 25 minutes, where was I?

Oh, yes. This was the weekend of the big weather change. Warm on Friday. Warmer on Saturday. Overcast today. Overcast and warmer tomorrow. We’ll be in the 50s on Tuesday. Next week, I think, is when we adjust the clocks, and we’ll all just get used to doing things on a different schedule until February and March, when the days start getting noticeably longer again. That’s fine, I suppose. There’s a lot to do indoors. But there are things to do outdoors, as well.

I have to bring in seven plants and set up a livable arrangement for them in the basement. We have to figure out how to protect a fig tree. What other fall maintenance needs to happen? And so on.

Also, there’s work, of course. My Monday class will have a midterm next week, so tonight’s class will be about preparing for that. And, in all of my classes, we’re now preparing for the big deep breath that will begin the last six weeks of the term. And while I’m wrapping up that fig tree — that’s what you do, I’m told, you wrap up a fig tree — I’ll be beginning to think about next semester’s classes.

It’s a pleasant enough cycle, the ebb and flow of the academic calendar. One week leads to the next and the next and then you’re thinking about the next semester, thinking about two terms at once. You’re only forever hoping you can make it be pleasant and effective enough for the people around you.

I had two nice bike rides this weekend. Friday, I shared a video from the ride, a reverse version of the regular lunchtime route. It was a good video, you should watch.

One part of the route takes you out to the river. There, you can see the Phragmites, an invasive plant that is trying to choke out more beneficial marsh plants.

Right there, it looks like they are winning. But I’m no coastal ecologist or botanist. At least they look nice.

Here’s one of the trees in the neighborhood, in Friday’s full glory.

Leaf blowers will be in full rapture by this time next week, I’m sure.

On Saturday I took a longer ride. This was a 51-mile ride to the other end of the county — hunting for historical markers for a future post — that ended at a state park. Of course there’s a video.

I saw some good barns on the ride down.

Picture book quality stuff, really, in a picturesque farming landscape. It’s quite lovely, really, as you can tell from the video.

Down at the state park, which sits where the pine barrens and hardwood forests meet, there’s a diverse ecology, at least 50 species of trees, more than 180 species of birds and …

The markers I wanted to find were in the state park — a place with a long and complex history. The first Europeans came into the area in the 1740s, but there’s plenty of evidence of Lenape habitation before that. In 1796, Lemuel Parvin dammed the Muddy Run stream to power a sawmill, thus creating a lake, named after him, and the future state park, that also shares his name. Turns out he’s buried in a cemetery I went right on Saturday, not too far away. In 1930, the state bought the acreage to make a park. The Civilian Conservation Corps developed much of that park, which, in 1943, was a summer camp for the children of interned Japanese Americans. The next year it was a prisoner of war camp for German soldiers captured in Africa, and in the 1950s it was refugee housing for Kalmyks.

The first marker was easy to find, and right where it should have been. After some time, longer than I’d anticipated, I found the second marker almost by chance. It was, really, my last guess, because the day was getting late.

I only had to ride about 20 miles back under fading daylight. I changed my route … OK, I took a wrong turn … but it worked out better. Better, clearer roads, broader shoulders. And just seven or eight miles from the house it finally got dark. I had to turn on my headlight. Took a roundabout, turned on the headlight and pedaled straight up a clean, broad-shouldered highway for five miles, through town just after it got properly dark.

It’s OK, though, because there’s only three miles or so more to go. Country-dark, but good roads. And look at the quality of this light.

The battery died on the last mile or so, which was disappointing and a bit of a surprise. It just went dark, and right before a little downhill where gravel gathers. I was able to get it back on for a few seconds, to navigate that stretch. And then finished the ride in quite and darkness. OK, by the oddly spaced streetlights and neighbors’ porch lights. It was great.

I bought new batteries for the bike light yesterday.

And I finally got around to finishing Eudora Welty’s memoir, which I’ve been sitting on since August. One Writer’s Beginnings (1984) is the only thing of hers I’ve ever read. I don’t read a lot of fiction, but she’s a really fine writer. This third section, the last part of series of lectures she delivered at Harvard before turning them into this book, is the lesser of the three, but only because the first two parts were so charming and strong.

Throughout, she talked about her bygone days, and a great deal of this section is about her parents, her beloved father, a captain of the insurance industry who died far too young, her mother who lived, as Eudora said, with grief as her guiding emotion. These were two people who came from Ohio and West Virginia, got married and moved to Mississippi as an adventure and had three children. Eudora grew up the oldest of three surviving children, but she was writing all of this in her seventies, when she was the last of her siblings. (One of her brothers served in the Pacific during World War 2. They were an insurance man and an architect by trade.) There’s a reverence and profound introspection involved with that much time and perspective, and all of her endearment. She talks about the characters she’s written, how they aren’t the people she knows, but how they are sometimes inspired by people she’s met. No less a scribe than Robert Penn Warren teased his way through this, through the beauty and difficulty of human relationships in Welty’s writing, in his famous love and separateness review. That was in 1944, and by then she was well on the path to literary success: having people disagree and/or find infinite layers of nuance to your themes. What, then, could I add to the larger, impressive body of work of a critically important author?

I’m glad I read this memoir. And though I don’t read a lot of her, if you like human themes, fiction or old Mississippi, you should start dogearing some pages today.


25
Oct 23

More riding, more bridges

Class prep was easy today, even if the classes tomorrow will be a challenge. I have to demo some software, among other things. It can be difficult to do that and hold a room’s attention. It’s fun, and useful, and important, but at the end of the day it’s an afternoon class that will feature a computer program, and on a pretty spectacular autumn day, as it turns out.

It is entirely possible that I’ll enjoy the exercise more than my students will. But I’ve also learned a thing or two in preparing for it, so I’m happy.

The fun thing is that this part of the course has to do with sound. I know a few things about sound. So my planning was efficient and effective, allowing me to spend a few minutes this afternoon. It was delightful.

And early this evening I went for a bike ride. I set out at 5:38 p.m. It was still daylight, but getting along that late-in-the-day time.

You better hurry, my lovely bride said. And so I did. Except for when I slowed down to enjoy the views, which I slowed down even more to enjoy them here.

I only wanted to ride nine miles. OK, probably 15. Definitely 18 miles. So I went down one of the quiet fast roads, which only gives me five miles or so. Retracing my route would only give me 10 miles, so I had to add on. I pedaled into town, turned around, did most of that retracing, and then pedaled back to town again.

They’re good roads, and familiar and safe. Seemed sensible given the hour.

And all of that got me to 14 or so miles. But I really wanted that 18, so I tapped out those on the little neighborhood roads that surround us. Quiet, secluded, and in darkness. This is a fine time to ride, if you can do it safely. Fortunately, I have a great headlight. (Not pictured.)

This was the first time I’ve ever used it on my bike in total darkness, and I was impressed by its throw. I can ride at almost full speed and still see the road, front and sides. I figured I would have to ride a bit slower, lest I outrun the headlight, but there it was, safely out in front of me at 20 miles per hour.

And sure, these photos are all about the same time and in pretty much the same place, trying to share the sunset. There’s not much to photograph of the darkness, of course, but there’s something special about riding in it. Maybe because it is new to me. Maybe because of the quiet. It’s already quiet out here where the heavy land and the green sands meet, but, at night, when everyone is already where they need to be, you can almost start to feel a special quietude.

This is the 13th installment of We Learn Wednesdays. I’ve been riding my bike across the county to find all of the local historical markers. A bike ride is an ideal way to undertake a project like this; you learn new things and see new stuff, that you don’t discover at the speed of a car. Counting today’s discoveries I have listed 31 of the 115 markers found in the Historical Marker Database.

In the last two weeks we’ve discovered Quinton’s Bridge and Hancock’s Bridge, two small places that figure into a very small piece of the Revolutionary War, the winter of 1778 to be specific. The markers we’ll see today are also from Hancock’s Bridge. Why twice? Because, as the sign says, “this small tract of land has a rich and diversified history.” This sign isn’t on the database, but it’s a good sign. Let’s check it out.

The ground upon which you are standing was deeded to William Hancock in 1676, before he left England to come to America. The site’s proximity to the Alloway Creek (originally known as Monmouth River) has always made it to be a valuable commercial property. From the earliest recorded history of the site, it served as a wharf where sailing vessels, and later steamers, loaded and unloaded their cargos of merchandise, produce and passengers.

It was in 1677, that William Hancock and his wife Isabella, first established their home on a rise adjacent to the creek. The property passed from the childless couple to William’s nephew John, who arrived in America in 1679. A small wooden structure served as home to the Hancock Family until John’s son and daughter-in-law, William and Sarah Chambless Hancock, constructed the brick structure in 1734.

The original house was converted to a store. Following the American Revolution, the store was relocated across the street, closer to the wharf and creek. Adjacent to the store, Richard Starr and George Mecum founded Starr and Mecum Cannery in 1875, in a former “hay house” along the creek. In 1882, Mecum sold out to Richard Starr’s brother Thomas, to form Starr & Brother Cannery. It was at this time that Starr & Brother constructed a new can house on the site of the former hay house. The old store was moved one last time and finally com down in 1883.

Starr & Brocher had been producing 50,000 cans of tomatoes a day when they sold to Robert Griscom in 1892. The firm of Fogg & Hires (Robert S. Fogg and Lucius C. Hires) purchased the cannery from Griscom in 1896. Fogg and Hires employed 200 people at this location along Alloway Creek. With the closing of the canning house in the early 1900s the site sat abandoned for a few years, later becoming the site for Edwin W. Ridgway’s Texaco gas station.

Adiacent to this parcel lies “Hancock’s Bridge” (the structure, for which the community is named). The earliest known reference to a bridge in this location is dated September 21, 1709, when “Commissioners…made return. by way of John Hancock’s bridge.” Wooden bridges continued to transverse the creek until 1885, when the last wooden structure was removed, and a metal bridge was opened to traffic in March 1886.

From this site, one can view the wetlands on the north side of Alloway Creek. However, this vista too has seen significant changes over the years. As with many wetland areas, this area was diked to control tidal flow, thus creating additional rich, lowland farm fields, so prevalent in Salem County’s history.

In the nineteenth century, a dike existed that followed the creek bank. Along this dike, floating cabins were moored and fishing cabins built. This popular gathering place for fishermen and trappers came to be known as “Bank Street.” However, in recent years with the “meadows gone out to tide,” this embankment has slowly eroded back into the creek, returning the diked wetland to a natural salt marsh.

For many years, and certainly until the predominance of overland shipping practices in twentieth century, this creek side location was the site for many ship moorings. It was from this location that cargo and travelers were received, and local produce was exported to markets in Wilmington, Delaware, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Along these creek banks too, many a trapper and duck hunter set out on an early morning adventure.

This small tract of land on the banks of the Alloway Creek has seen a rich and diverse history, PSEG has permanently preserved the wetlands opposite the site through its Estuary Enhancement Program, and today the site continues to play a role in the life of the community, providing access to the Hancock House State Historic Site and views of the Alloway Creek and its adjoining wetlands.

It seems that the Starr and Mecum families stayed closely intertwined for at least a few more generations. And I’ve seen a Mecum mailbox not too far away, so at least some of the descendants are still in the area.

The county was once home to many canneries in the 19th century, the goods shipped far and wide by water and rail. A lot of the local farming, which is highly productive, went toward those canneries. Lots of tomatoes, but plenty of other fruit, too. Edwin W. Ridgway, who owned the Texaco, died in 1988. He’s buried just 1.4 miles away from that sign, and where his store was.

Right next to the Hancock Lot sign is this one. I love the older style. The heavy signs are full of purpose, but also difficult to read in photographs.

That one, on the two plates, says:

The first bridge across Alloways Creek at this location was built by John Hancock and others in 1709 and was known as Hancocks Bridge.

The same year (1709) two other bridges were built across Alloways Creek, one at Alloway, known as Thompson’s Bridge, and the other at Quinton, often referred to as Quinton’s Bridge.

Various other wooden bridges were built and rebuilt to replace the original bridge at this location. The last wooden bridge being built in 1847 by the Salem County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

On August 12, 1885, the construction of an iron truss swing bridge was authorized by the Board of Chosen Freeholders. This bridge was built at a cost of $8,517.92. On January 13, 1886, another contract was awarded for the sum of $1,835.00 to construct an additional span of fifty feet. Therefore, the cost of the iron swing bridge, which served this location from 1886 to 1952, was constructed at a cost of $10,352.92. The new bridge constructed in 1952-53 cost $532,894.00, one-half of which was assumed by the Federal Government.

The bridge at this location figures largely in early American History. The bridge was used by the Americans to haul cattle and provisions to Gen. Washington at Valley Forge from the fertile lands to the south. With the British moving into Salem, and the Americans holding the south side of Aloes (Alloways) Creek. The rebels decided to destroy the draw of the bridge in order to prevent a frontal attack.

However, the British decided to attack from the south, going by boat to an inlet about seven miles south of Aloes Creek. Because of the strong tide, they had to land at the mouth of Aloes Creek and cross the meadows to surprise the garrison at Hancocks Bridge. This resulted in the massacre at the Hancock House on the night of March 20, 1778, by Major John Graves Simcoe. On the morning of March 21, 1778, Major Simcoe relaid the bridge (by planks) and joined forces with Lt. Col. Mitchell, who had waited all night on the north side of the bridgeless stream.

Here’s the iron swing bridge mentioned in that marker. The picture is from the first sign. And, sure, this seems a bit repetitious, but bridges like this are vitally important to people surrounded by water, and only became more so as transportation evolved.

Here’s the modern bridge. The day I was there, at the beginning of October, the water was way up.

Across the way, the waving grass of the salt marshes, an incredibly important and productive habitat. Protects from flooding, helps control from erosion, filters sediment and pollutants and is a hugely vital nursery for coastal fish and shellfish.

So we have once again learned a great deal, for a Wednesday. There’s even more to learn next week! If you’ve missed any markers so far, you can find them all right here.