This nitetime skyline view is centered on 1180 Raymond Boulevard.
In it, Leonard tells us that his elderly parents were born and raised, and met and married, in Paterson, NJ. In a later episode, they visit Paterson. I saw that one, and a few others, but, as so often happens to me with PBS series, I didn't note when the show was on, and thus did not see every episode.
This low dam is a short distance above the Great Falls in Paterson.
This episode also deals with people with odd names that they meet along the way, including Joe Blow in Texas, who mentions that he once met John Doe. In another Texas town the Leonards meet James Bond, who sells 10-gallon hats and other Western apparel.
I don't know if the Passaic is navigable above this shallow, non-navigable stretch of white water between the low dam and Great Falls.
You may not know of Mike Leonard, but I do. He has worked for decades out of NBC News Chicago and had very distinctive, very over-precise speech that was almost comical. Some Canadians talk much the same way, as tho they are always speaking carefully to children so the kids can hear every sound in every syllable. His speech nowadays is more relaxed. What I didn't know until I did some online research, is that he is a feature contributor to the early-morning Today Show. I am rarely up then, and I find the masses of advertising on morning shows oppressive. I'm also not big on "happy talk" TV.
This view from the pedestrian bridge shows a faint rainbow in the mist.
The series is a charming mix of travelog and family history. The particular, as so often, conjures the universal, and viewers will likely see something of their own family in Leonard's. Mike's father, Jack Leonard, reminds me a lot of my (late) father, garrulous and amiable with strangers. His father, Mike says, sings a lot. My father sang from time to time, in the crooner style of his youth (think Bing Crosby), which I always thought corny. Everyone in my family sings, except Alan. We don't let him sing, and he knows better than to try, except for comic relief. Brian, Sue Ann, and I have all been in choruses outside of school. I think Brian was part of a chorus that made a record, in Texas, and Sue Ann was recently in some choral concert, in California.
Mike Leonard tells how his parents moved to New London, Connecticut, when his father was in the Navy. My brother Brian's first wife was from Norwich, near New London. Leonard tells of a trip the family took to Ireland to meet separated relatives they had never seen. My mother, sisters, and Brian toured Ireland, but I didn't go. Someday. We don't have any relatives there that we're aware of, however, since my mother's Irish side left sometime around 1875, latest.
Here, a quiet stretch of water suddenly plunges into cascade. Note the fence around a lookout near the edge of the opposite shore from the Falls. You can get quite close.
Leonard himself moved from one station to another in the NBC network, and ended up in Chicago. My family has wandered too, and I'm the only one left in New Jersey. Actually, I'm the only one back in New Jersey, at present, after 35 years in NYC. Both sisters live in Long Beach, California, tho Sue Ann had returned to Monmouth County for several years. Part of that time, she, Alan, my mother, and my father all lived together in my grandmother's house in West Allenhurst, which Alan enlarged to accommodate everybody, with a wheelchair ramp for my father, who had terminal cancer.
These rustic buildings adjoin the quiet pond above.
My family history involves a lot of moving around. My mother, like John McCain, was born in the Panama Canal Zone, then moved to Long Island and then Bogota (Bergen County), NJ. Her grandparents on both sides came from Europe (father, Ireland; mother, Germany).
Note the rising mist. It blew across the overlook that day, and I wondered if it could produce adverse health effects, given the poor quality of much of the Passaic's water.
My father was born in Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY, of a family that came mainly from the Netherlands, with an admixture of other nationalities. He was the 10th generation of Schoonmakers in the New World; I'm the 11th. And there are two more now, scattered to the winds. My parents two families' wanderings brought them a house apart in Bogota. So my mother ended up marrying "the boy nextdoor", save one.
Here you get a sense of the power of the main body of the Falls.
One brother graduated from Monmouth College (then; University now), in West Long Branch; then went to grad school at UC Berkeley; then taught at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh and went on to live in various parts of Europe; then based himself in the Bahamas while pursuing an international practice in industrial psychology. He returned to NJ, first in West Allenhurst and, after Dad's death, in the Atlantic City area, as he developed a passion for poker. Now he lives in Las Vegas, where he has thoroughly integrated himself into the poker community.
View forward and slitely to the left from the stairs leading down to the viewing area.
The other brother graduated from Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken (which our "Uncle Walter" (Wittemann), an early aviator who was my grandmother's second husband, had also attended), then worked in both northern and southern California, then in the St. Louis, Missouri, area, then settled outside Houston, all in the aerospace industry. Having recently retired, he's looking for someplace dryer but still warm in the winter. He said years ago that it is so humid in Houston that in the summertime he had to leave his air-conditioner running to keep the rugs from mildewing. And he had to evacuate westward within Texas during Hurricane Rita. Now he's looking at places in Arizona and Nevada.
View to the right from the overlook.
My younger sister went out to California to join our older sister, who, after graduating high school in Middletown (NJ), had earlier ventured cross-country with a friend of hers. Trina finished high school there, and took on a California accent. Sue Ann retained correct NJ speech, as did my elder brother despite his travels. My other brother's speech acquired a bit of a twang. Mine shifted when we left Bergen County for Monmouth when I was 9. I discovered that the kids around me said a few things differently, so I resorted to the dictionary to find out which was right, then shifted my speech to the national standard, which is spoken best in NJ. (For those of you familiar with speech terms, most New Jersey speech employs all 42 phonemes of the General American standard. Some Western speech avoids two of them, AU and AI, as in "haul" and "sail", so "Australia" ends up sounding like os.tráal.ya or ah.STRAL.ya, and "sail" or "sale" can end up sounding like "Sal", the short form of Salvatore. How nice.)
View a bit further left.
I'm the only one still in cold-weather winterland. And I don't like the cold. But I do like Newark and never want to live very far from either NYC or the Atlantic Ocean. No particular intellectual reason. I just don't.
View all the way to the left, looking back toward footbridge (forward) and bridge to carry pipeline (behind).
There's plenty of variety within a daytrip's distance right here. A little farther than a daytrip and you have all the cities of Megalopolis (the Boston-Washington Corridor), the seashore, mountains, autumn leaves of the Alleghenies or New England, and the majesty of Niagara Falls. If only it weren't so cold for three months a year, this area would have everything I want.
Tree trunk stuck in crevice and others atop the falls (until, perhaps, the next heavy rain). Such trunks and large branches pass over the main span without a problem but get stuck in the narrower rivulets.
The Great Falls of the Passaic are a very little brother to Niagara Falls, but worth seeing, and only 15 miles from Newark. Unlike Niagara Falls, the Great Falls are sideways to the main sightlines, so you can't view them across a big open space. They are hemmed in by stone walls, which may explain the lack of mass tourism to see them.
Gaetano found an August 14th article from The New York Times about a comeback for the Passaic River. One of the things mentioned there is the crap carried out into the river by stormwater runoff, because slobs toss trash on the streets that gets washed into the river in those parts of the cities/towns that do not have a combined sewer system that treats all wastewater, including storm runoff, together. Treatment plants can intercept and remove trash before the screened and treated water is returned to the river.
Another trunk atop a narrow crevice in the Falls.
The City of Newark mails, each year, reports on water quality and pollution prevention,* to each household in the city. These are two separate mailing pieces, glossy and illustrated, that I bet only a tiny proportion of people ever read. It is, in short, a terrible waste to send them out to everyone. They should be available online and, in hardcopy, on request only. However much it now costs to send these two mailings out to every household is money badly spent. Those of us interested in this topic can see from the pollution-prevention brochure that Newark is about 50/50 Combined Sewer System (CSS) and Separate Sewer System (SSS). The SSS area, in turn, comprises about half the area adjoining the Passaic River, so stormwater pours directly into the River, carrying all kinds of garbage strewn by slobs, directly into the River. That has got to be fixed.
Is the rainbow any clearer in this foto?
You might think that the areas of the city, like mine (Vailsburg), serviced by a CSS would not be contributing to the pollution of bodies of water adjoining the city. Unfortunately, however, even CSS's sometimes dump untreated wastewater. There are 17 permitted CSO's (Combined Sewer Outflows), which in periods of heavy rain can release untreated water above the capacity of sewage-treatment plants directly into the Passaic River and Newark Bay. That means not just stormwater, with all the litter it carries, but also water from toilets, with all that that water carries. Get the picture? That is one picture I'm not even going to try to take and show you. We have had an unusually wet summer. Does that mean that the River and Bay have been regularly deluged of late, not just with stormwater from the SSS area but also with raw sewage from the interceptors that regulate what goes into treatment plants?
Pollution foam and floating trash in eddy beyond the base of the Falls.
One interesting point in the Water Quality Report is that Newark does not fluoridate its water. I thought fluoridation was pretty standard everywhere nowadays. Does this put children in Newark at higher risk for tooth decay, with all its consequences (which can, in extreme cases, include death)? Is it a question of expense, or of scientific concern about the usefulness and alleged hazards of fluoridation? I don't know.
This wonderful natural feature is smack dab in the middle of a modern, albeit historic, city.
I have looked on the hardcopy of these mailing pieces for a URL for an online version but find none, and a Google search produces none. The Borough of South River (Middlesex County) has placed its water-quality report online, in .PDF format. Why not Newark? Does any governmental regulation within our legislative control require that these reports be mailed to residents? If not, this practice should be discontinued immediately. If a State or Federal regulation requires a mass mailing, Newark's strapped city government should join with other financially pressed municipalities to demand a change in the regulation to permit online posting and a public notice in the local newspaper as to the URL and the availability of a hard copy for people who request one. Such a revised distribution program could save the City tens of thousands of dollars on materials that most people just throw out without reading. And most people probably don't even recycle the paper.
* Stormwater and Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Pollution Prevention Plan is one; the other is an Annual Water Quality Report.