Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Out of the Furnace

Let it be known, I grew up right next to those mountains that were loaded up with the descendants of Lenape Indians/Dutch settlers/Escaped slaves. It was called Stag Hill. Right on the NJ/NY border. We did call the people up in the mountains Jackson Whites. Sorry to offend. We didn't know there was even another name for them. We also did go to school with these lovelies, though I do think most of them went to Mahwah High. Lucky for me, I was a short order cook at the base of the mountain on Route 17, and the guys would come in all the time to talk, buy cigarettes, all that. They were not on a college track. They were unencumbered. Similar to all sorts of working, earthy people in the area.

It was pretty amazing, and still is pretty amazing, that they have this whole life going on up in those mountains right on the edge of a very dense suburban area just 28 miles from New York City.

My favorite image, and I tell it often: we used to hike up in the Ramapo Mounatins all the time, just north of Stag Hill, and you could get high enough that in the distance you would see the tip of the Empire State Building and then one day, I turned to my left, and there was a man in a mush-mouse hat, with a rifle, hunting for grub.

It's good to grow up on the edge. It's where certain things can happen that can't really happen anywhere else.

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