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  From the Editor
      VANISHING WORLDS

        No matter how skillful I become with words, I will never be able to express my feelings the day my dad moved us up toTunxis Hill in Fairfield, Connecticut, in the middle of April 1959. I was ten, my brothers were eight and seven. My mother hadn’t worked since her high school days; within a year she would learn to drive and start waitressing in a diner on the Black Rock Turnpike. In one day my brothers and myself went from a public housing project in Queens where we weren’t allowed to walk on the grass, to an old house that was surrounded by hundreds of acres of unfenced woods, swamps and open fields, a big swath of undeveloped land that went from Black Rock Turnpike in the west to Andrew Ward High School to the east, land that was cut through the middle by a wide, nameless creek. Along Black Rock Turnpike stores and diners alternated with dairy farms and fields of corn.
    We hadn’t been to our new home an hour when a boy my age who lived in the apartment next door, Johnny Gallagher, insisted on taking me out to the garage and showing me the muskrat skins he had stretched out on boards. He showed me some of his traps and told me how he got a dollar every skin. He trapped the creek, mostly where it ran behind the house, through the woods a little way. The creek ran through the swamp for almost a mile; its banks were studded with rafts, treehouses and modest clubhouses of every description. If I told you that in every season: pollywog season, camp season, salamander season and ice-skating season, we had an absolute blast, you still would have only a faint idea of the fun we had in our little wilderness. Girls, if they were tough enough, like Claire Cooper and Joanne Bevins, could come out to the creek to play and be treated as equals.This isn’t nostalgia at all; it’s the way it was.
    Of course it’s all gone now, except for five acres or so of swamp behind McKinley School. More kids than ever kids live, if you want to call what they do living, in the neighborhood today. I recently tried Googling “Heinz Grove,” our old local fairgrounds on Tunxis Hill, where in the summer thousands of people from all over Fairfield County came to hear scores of marching bands compete. Nothing on Google.  In sixty years that entire world has vanished and left no trace, not even in local history.
    We like to think we know and understand the past, but how much of it, bitter and sweet, has totally flown from human consciousness?

                                                                                                             Max H. Peters

 

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