Tuesday, April 1, 2008
From St Patrick to Paterson: A NJ Drive
On Sunday, March 9th, Molly Kaufman, my daughter, and A'Lelia Johnson, my granddaughter and Molly's niece, went to West Orange to see the St. Patrick's Day Parade on Main Street. It was a fine parade with lovely pipe and drum bands from all over the state, parade organizers in convertibles, and a lively audience that appreciated the fine day and good music. Just off Main Street, on Park Avenue, we passed a playground and A'Lelia, 12, insisted we play for a while. The park has an outstanding 4 person seesaw. A little boy joined us and we four bounced up and down in zigzaggy patterns. Though we outweighed our little friend by several hundred pounds, he held on tightly, proving he has the talent for a career in horse racing. We had planned to go straight back to Englewood but that seemed too tame for such a fine day. After considering many ideas, we settled on driving back on the streets rather than the highways. There is no road that goes straight from West Orange to Englewood -- probably why they built the highways. The roads stay out of the Meadowlands and follow the course of the Passaic River, which lies between the two cities. In no time at all, we found ourselves in Paterson. The southern part of Main Street, Paterson, is a middle Eastern neighborhood. We stopped for coffee and Turkish pastries at Saray Bakery. We strolled down the street to Fattal's Market, where we stocked up on their freshly baked pita, and delicious platters of hummus, baba ganoush, olives and stuffed grape leaves.
If you're in Paterson, you have to visit the The Great Falls, so we drove to the center of the city to see the second largest waterfall in the Northeast, after Niagara Falls. Paterson was an early center of American industry because of the power provided by the Falls. Alexander Hamilton, one of the founders of the nation, saw the potential of the area and organized its early development -- he's honored by a statue in the park around the Falls. He made the point that the US should reduce its dependence on foreign products -- proving that what goes around comes around. The roar of the Falls makes it clear how much power is involved in good-sized river suddenly dropping 77 feet. Though it was a clear bright day, the water was cold and the spray had frozen in places around the viewing zone. We were thrilled by the mist and the noise and the icicles.