I was stopped in traffic Tuesday on Broad Street near what was once Washington's Tree, and was sad to see that it has apparently died completely. It was hanging on after the top came off in a storm a few years ago, and suckers came out of the sides. But bark fell from a large portion of the trunk and now, unless there is life on the side away from Broad Street, it appears that the tree is now just a supersize stump of a formerly live tree. Should we cut it down? Perhaps not until we have decided what to do with the wood. And the bronze historical plaque.
It seems a shame not to make something with the wood. Newark used to have a furniture industry. Do we have even artisan furnituremakers now? How many chairs, writing desks, or armoires might we make from such a trunk? If Newark had a tourist industry, we could make historical plaques about the Tree from the tree, and use them as fundraisers for Newark parks or school history programs, or the New Jersey Historical Society, which is headquartered not far from the stump.
The City should hold a contest for suggestions as to what to do with the wood from this tall stump. We should act on more than one suggestion if there's wood enuf.
Not far south of the old Tree, I saw what was responsible for the traffic jam, men working in the area where new trees and other plantings were put in just this past year. One man was using a jackhammer to shake loose bricks laid not long ago in a raised island in the middle of Broad Street (without breaking them), for some kind of tubing to be buried under the new plantings.
I don't what kind of trees were planted in this narrow strip in the middle of the street, but they'd better not grow as large as Washington's Tree.
I was a bit annoyed that I didn't know about the tie-up, or I'd have tried another route. But I was headed to Symphony Hall, on Broad Street, so I'd have had to leave Broad Street just to get back to it, which would have been more trouble than just waiting a few minutes to get past the bottleneck. I wanted to see if there were any (free) tickets left for that nite's premiere of the documentary Brick City. The TV showings go for five nites in a row, starting this coming Monday.
As I got to Symphony Hall, I saw that the police had forbidden parking for blocks on Broad Street and Lincoln Park. Barricades were arranged to reserve part of the street to pedestrians, and there was a red carpet on the sidewalk under the marquee.
I hadn't realized this was to be a big deal. I guess the producers were going to be at the opening. It wasn't looking good for a ticket. I found a parking spot on Spruce Street, a couple of long blocks to the south and west of Symphony Hall. When I got to the box office, I got the bad news from a sign on the door.
Ah, well. I should have gone days earlier. I took some pix of items of interest that I passed on the way back to the car, then headed home, stopping at the 18th Avenue McDonald's for a large strawberry shake. When I returned to the car, I found that my ignition key had broken off midway. I was afraid that would happen, because the lock was frozen during the winter and the key bent when I had to turn it hard. To my great relief, I discovered that the top was not stuck in either the door or the ignition (I carry a spare key, something I have always done since I got locked out of a rental car in Winnipeg, Manitoba). I don't know where the top did drop off. You'd think if it were to break off, it would do so in some lock, not outside a lock. To borrow from the King in The King and I, "Is a puzzlement."
Quick like a bunny I drove to the Home Depot on Springfield Avenue and got a new key (made from my spare), because I dare not have a spare. As I parked, I heard my phone and saw I'd missed a call from a young woman at the South Orange-Vailsburg United Methodist Church who would be able to let me in to see the stained-glass windows from inside. I called her back to say I could be there in 40 minutes, got my key made immediately, no waiting, got back into the car and headed out along South Orange Avenue.
On the way, I had to stop at a red lite by the Boylan Street Recreation Center's new (two-year-old?) and seriously underutilized tennis courts, which, I was dismayed to see, had some litter on them. I thought, Mayor Booker should play tennis there — does he play tennis? — with other Newark bigwigs, in a little local-celebrity tennis tournament to draw attention to the fact that there are now two public tennis courts in Vailsburg. I used to play tennis, before my knees went kablooey, and my father was semi-pro in his youth. So naturally the City opens tennis courts in my neighborhood AFTER my accidents. That reminds me: I should see if I still have a tennis racket to donate to the Center. I had one (or was it even two?, so I could provide one to a potential partner who didn't have his own) when I lived in Manhattan, even tho it was extremely difficult to reserve a public court there. And I was still able to play when I first moved to Newark. Ergo, I must have a tennis racket or two here somewhere that I will never need again, so might as well donate to Boylan Street. Hm. If I were a tennis racket, where would I be?
(I was out and about for 4½ hours at the Robeson and NPL receptions tonite and the supermarket afterward, all after 5½ hours of working on the computer early in the day, so I'm not presently up to fixing the nearly 70 pix I took tonite, much less drafting the discussion into which to fit selected pix. My calendar shows no event for me to cover until Tuesday (stay tuned), so I thought I'd mention my busy Tuesday today, and deal with the receptions later.)