Info and Links for Friends and Loved Ones Wow, I lost a whole month! Where did it go? (I wasn’t sick, just working, and living..) And that’s life in the pandemic. I like to keep this information hopeful and upbeat, if possible. Honestly, things are going to get worse before they get much better. All you need to know is in my previous Covid updates: wash hands, wear a mask, social distance, isolate, and quarantine if you’re sick or exposed to someone who is, and test – but don’t rely on tests because you can be sick and contagious for 3-5 days before you test positive. As the imposter in the People’s House has proven, relying on testing alone can get everyone sick. VOTE if you haven’t. There is still time.
Why this is not the time to ease up, as much as we want and need to –
“As of Sunday morning <snip> at least 224,800 have died…The national trajectory is worsening rapidly. Wisconsin has opened a field hospital. North Dakota, which not long ago had relatively few cases, has grown so overwhelmed that it has now ended most contact tracing. Cases have reached record levels recently in more than 20 states, including Illinois, Tennessee, New Mexico, Nebraska and Utah.”— 10/25/20—https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html
How the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally may have spread coronavirus across the Upper Midwest: Within weeks of the gathering that drew nearly half a million bikers, the Dakotas, along with Wyoming, Minnesota and Montana, were leading the nation in new coronavirus infections per capita. – The Washington Post 10/17/20—Read on www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/10/17/sturgis-rally-spread/
Info and Links for Friends and Loved Ones New tests and testing info! More relatively current updates about Life in the Age of Covid arranged roughly by topic with newest articles first. Explainers about transmission in the air. Should I wear a mask? Is that really still a question!? The big question: Will the Pandemic ever end in the USA? Answer: If the current administration remains in power, the pandemic never EVEN happened. With actual leadership, Covid-19 should be under control within 18 months. PLEASE REGISTER TO VOTE, VOTE EARLY, AND DON’T COUNT ON THE USPS TO DELIVER YOUR BALLOT.
Get Tested for COVID-19 at Home! Mail-in kit from Pixel by LabCorp (Not an Antibody test. A test to see if you are currently infected. You will have to come up with a reason for being tested if you don’t have symptoms.) 8/25/2020 — Read on – www.pixel.labcorp.com/covid-19 Read on
Nurses Who Battled Virus in New York Confront Friends Back Home Who Say It’s a Hoax (I include this because to me it is unfathomable that people could believe this is a hoax. You probably have neighbors, as I do, who still treat it like it is a hoax. RANT FOLLOWS: And that the wing nuts could think this is a Leftist Conspiracy? When the damage, the death, is being wrought on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations—seriously, the “Democrat”, liberals, poor, seniors, and people of color— those populations. While the government is compensating giant corporations and banks and billionaires? Who is benefitting from this disease? People on Social Security? Sounds more like a conspiracy of the Republicants to wipe out their troublesome opponents. But, NO, I don’t believe that. “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”—Christo) 07/07/20 Read in NYT: www.nytimes.com/2020/07/07/us/coronavirus-nurses.html
“This rotten time wouldn’t seem so bad to me now. If I didn’t die, I should be satisfied, I survived. It’s good enough for now.”— “Sky Blue Sky”, Wilco
Winding down the summer of 2020. It’s 86 degrees in Western Central New Jersey with 98% humidity—that’s pretty swampy weather, even though it’s cooler by 5 degrees than most days for the last few weeks. I’m listening to the Goldfinches chirp as they fly overhead in between feeder stops. A Kingfisher chatters his way north up the river, while the nattering Nuthatches explore the walnut tree from every angle—upside down, sideways—jerkily walking the bark in three dimensions without hesitation or fear of gravity. They do sidestep the big yellow wasps, who have a nest in a hole in the tree. While one guards the entrance, wings buzzing incessantly, the others come and go quickly with a sense of purpose.
Too late to go for a cool morning ride.
We’re six plus months into this Covid thing. I haven’t been to GIANT market, where I now appreciate leisurely strolling, relaxed, picking through the corn chips, looking for the healthy ones, and trying to find the sliced wild salmon with no sugar or flavorings. In all this time I haven’t returned to the gym where I taught T’ai Chi—not since that last Saturday morning, right before lockdown, when only four students showed. I haven’t met my friend Pendar for dinner at Bell’s Tavern, a habit we’ve maintained for over thirty years. No tuna sub from Valpariso’s for lunch on work days. I have bought a few dozen bagels from Hee San at Bagel Delite, had a few TLT Sandwiches from Jess’s Juice Bar, sushi from Ota Ya, and the grilled chicken pesto panini at Liv and Charlies, all from curb-side pickup of course, no sit-down restaurant meals anywhere. Not happening. I miss the social ease of dropping into Rojo’s coffee shop and reading at a table, or treating myself to cookie-dough ice cream at Oh Wow Cow.
I wear a mask whenever I go out, and ALL DAY at work – and a bandana when I ride my bike. I used to say I did it to set a good example, which is still true, but I really do it because it’s the right thing to do. I don’t need to hear or make any arguments about it. My mom was an O.R. nurse. I know intuitively this is the right thing. I get pissed at people who don’t wear masks – including my neighbors with their small children. But I don’t say anything. When someone sneers some comment at me for wearing a mask, I resist the urge to shove them into the canal, where they belong. And to be fair, I have recently witnessed my neighbors and children rolling the downtown sidewalks, all masked. Not consistently, but at least around town.
This is serious business, and most of us will get through it – eventually – and some won’t.
Do what you need to stay sane and healthy, be excellent to one another, and for God’s sake, vote and vote early!
If Bonin was in jail until October of 1978 … then who picked me up?
August 6, 1977 — It wasn’t looking good. A late start, leaving the “No Nukes” demonstration on the coast at San Onofre in the afternoon, a couple short hops through most of Orange County, but now I’d been standing with my big, orange backpack at my side, alone for over two hours, on a quiet on-ramp on the eastern end of San Bernardino, California, the last outpost of civilization before the freeway ascends through the colored layers of smog to Cajon Pass, and from there, into the Mojave Desert. I was hoping for a full ride, the four or so hours to Vegas in one trip, but it was dark, there was no traffic on this ramp, and I wasn’t getting anywhere.
As I turned my head to avoid the hot sand blowing at my face, a big, dark, slightly dented, Econoline van drove by slowly. The driver checked me out and kept going. About ten minutes later, I was pretty sure, the same guy drove by again. That was weird. Most people don’t go back to pick up a hitchhiker. But it wasn’t unheard of. Somebody looking for company on a long drive might do just that. This time he slowed, rolled over the curb, and lowered his passenger-side window. He was roughly my age, a bit geeky, dressed almost formally, as if he were a waiter, or had been in some kind of performance, but frumpy in a wrinkled white shirt and black pants, with greasy dark hair. He offered to drop me up the freeway at the far end of town. Considering my current location, I hesitated. I wasn’t fond of the spot, but I knew it was near the train station, downtown, and if I got desperate I could make my way there, maybe catch a train, at least be around more people. Before I could reply, he suggested, “Tell you what, it you don’t like it, I’ll drive you back here.”
“Deal,” I said, and hopped into the passenger seat, holding my packpack between my knees.
The usual obligatory conversation ensued—he was a piano tuner—I nodded, without making any comments or asking questions that might come to mind—me, a student going to visit family in Las Vegas. I didn’t like sharing too much information, and I was already a little suspicious. In hitchhiking, it’s always a balancing act – you want a ride, you’re relying on the generosity of strangers, you want to give people the “benefit of the doubt” without being foolish, and you always should be a little suspicious. Up to that point my only misadventures had been with sloppy drivers who were drunk, or stoned, and once, the awkwardness of politely turning down an older woman who came onto me verbally.
The van was empty, the inside walls painted; I didn’t see anything unusual. I was watching the street, making sure we were staying near the freeway. I didn’t want to end up in some unfamiliar downtown, in the dark, late at night. In hitchhiking, you cling to the big busy roads like a lifeline.
We were clearly on the outskirts of town when he pulled over at a deserted on-ramp, and said, “Here it is!” I couldn’t believe there could be an on-ramp darker, or more isolated than the one I had come from, but here it was.
I made no move to get out of the van. I told him, “Ok, I’m going to take you up on your offer. Drive me back.” Maybe slightly surprised, he did.
Very shortly after that (too soon, it seemed, as if this second guy had gotten a phone call just as quick as the piano tuner could get to a phone booth at a Seven Eleven to tell him that I was there at the downtown on-ramp), a guy in a Subaru Hatchback pulled over, told me he was going to Victorville. Not all that far, but out of the urban desolation, in the desert, and with a couple of large truck stops. After the piano tuner, I was relieved that this guy wore blue jeans and a plaid shirt, like almost every other guy in Southern California, was maybe a few years older than me, but not much; he appeared to be pretty normal. I’d been stuck too long; any ride was worthwhile, and hitch-hiking into the night was okay. As long as I was moving. It was the being stuck that was awful. Waiting under some streetlight near an on-ramp with no traffic whatsoever, in a strange town. That’s the worst.
I threw my backpack in the back of the car. As I climbed in I noticed that compared to the skinny piano tuner, this guy was short and stocky. He made some comment about my build, that I was a “big healthy guy” or something like that, and asked if I studied any martial arts, which immediately raised my suspicion another notch, although I said, “No,” and I climbed in. He told me he had to make a phone call then we would be on our way. This was before cell phones. He drove a few deserted blocks into San Bernardino and parked within sight of a pay phone. He walked to the phone booth, and was there for a what seemed a very long time. Thirty minutes? He seemed to be arguing with someone. He made a lot of hand motions and kept glancing back at the car.
So many years later, I have no idea what I was doing at the time. I think I was super-focused on getting the hell out of San Bernardino, and on the road, moving, making progress toward a destination, and it seemed that this was my best chance. Now, I imagine this guy was talking to his partner, discussing if I was a candidate for murder, what he or they would do with me. Was he trying to ascertain if I was scared? Would I hop out and try to get away? How best to subdue me? I remember thinking I had my hunting knife in my pack, if this turned out to be a really bad situation, and obviously if I was thinking about that, I probably shouldn’t have stayed there. I sat in the car, waiting, and I passed the test for gullibility.
He finally came back, and we headed onto I-15 toward Vegas. At first I was relieved to be getting underway. It was after midnight. We drove out onto the highway and into the dark empty desert night in relative silence for 30 minutes or more, passing uneventfully through progressively more deserted tracts of rising foothills.
Was he touching my thigh? Almost everyone who has a “bad” hitchhiking story will tell you about some driver putting his hand on their leg. I’d heard a few. He touched my thigh. I wasn’t sure at first that was what he was doing, and tried to ignore it. Thinking how bad I needed the ride, I was getting scared, but angry too. Jeez. I brushed his hand away, as if he did it accidentally. I looked at him, his eyes were glued to the road. Within a minute his hand was back. I told him, “Stop it.”
“Stop What?” He asked, not quite innocently.
“I am not gay, and I have no intention of becoming gay tonight,” I said firmly.
“What are you talking about?” He asked indignantly.
“Look,” I said, “It was your hand on my leg. Keep it off.”
He gave a little snort, then got very quiet, but kept driving, his eyes on the road. I was trying hard to remain calm and not panic, but I was considering how I could get out. Would I have to abandon my pack with my sleeping bag, knife, and other means of survival? Maybe I could pull the keys from the ignition and throw them out the window into the sand and tumbleweeds?
We were not yet to Victorville, I had no idea where we were, because those minutes felt like hours, maybe they were hours, I was just praying we would see a truck stop where I could get out and be visible under some light.
A cross road appeared with an off-ramp, and with a finger, he flicked his turn signal.
“I’m not going any farther. I’m going to turn around here.” He said.
I looked out the window. A narrow road snaked off into the desert at a right angle to the freeway. Way off in the darkness lights twinkled at a big house or ranch. He pulled over. I don’t think it even occurred to me at the time that he might have a pistol.
“Here?” I asked. “Where am I going to get a ride here!?”
“Maybe you can walk up there and get a ride,” He pointed at the lights in the distance.
“Ok,” I said, opening the door, and trying to climb out while grabbing my pack from the back seat at the same time so he couldn’t pull away with it still inside. But he didn’t. He was done with me at that point. He stayed in the car. I got quickly to the side of the road, watched while he turned the car around and headed back toward the freeway, and then, figuring he was still watching me, I began to walk on the asphalt toward the lights in the distance, terrified that he would come zooming back, thinking that I could jump off to the side, and into the desert, where, having grown up in the Southwest, I might have some advantage. But his tail lights kept getting dimmer, and smaller, fading into the distance.
I could hear music and voices from the lights at the house across the desert. Maybe there was a party going on or something. I considered walking all the way there. But since I had already given him the impression that was where I was going, I waited until his red tail lights were completely out of sight, and then I turned around and reversed direction.
I walked back to the big circle of asphalt where the off-ramp swung around the freeway to meet that desert road. I walked into the middle of that circle, where I was sure I could hear or see a car or even a pedestrian coming from any direction. I found a low spot, hidden by creosote and big tumbleweed, and settled there. I got out my hunting knife and slipped it into my pocket, laid out my sleeping bag. I was exhausted. I had this idea that he would come back looking for me. I probably didn’t sleep at all. Once or twice I got up when a big semi rushed past on the freeway, but there was no traffic on the side road for the rest of the night. I didn’t sleep.
The next morning I walked back to the freeway as the cool air grew warm, and probably walked another mile or two to a big hillside truck stop. A line of hitchhikers with signs stood or sat at the turn off. Standard “protocol” for hitching – you get in line and take turns getting rides. “First come, first served”. And of course the driver always had veto power. “I’ll take you, but not you.” According to protocol I would have to wait until the six or eight hikers who got there before me got their rides before I could get mine. Suddenly I remembered that my folks were expecting me. If everything had gone well, and I had not been stranded in San Bernardino, I should have been to Vegas late last night. I walked past all the other hitchers to the gas station, to check it out, and use the bathroom. When I was done, I walked out to the pumps, two cars gettting gas. Fuck it. I had had enough of this shit. I walked over to a middle-aged man with a crewcut standing next to a dusty blue 4-door Maverick. “Hi, are you going to Vegas?”
He quickly sized me up, replied, “I am.”
“Would you be able to give me a ride? I’d sure appreciate it.”
“You going there to gamble?”
“No sir, I grew up there. I’m going to visit my folks.”
“Okay,” he said affably, “I just gotta finish filling my tank, and we can go.”
“Thank you, I don’t have much money, but I can give you ten dollars for the gas.” I offered, adding, “It’s been a long night.”
He shook his head no, and motioned me to get into the passenger seat.
He smoked Camel plain ends the whole way, with his window down. The smoke bothered me some, but I was so relieved that he seemed normal, chatted in a friendly way, and kept his hands to himself. I don’t remember much about him except that he was an ex-marine and had done some hitching himself. This is true of most “rides”. They have compassion, they pick you up because they’ve done it. The rest of the trip went by very fast. I did not sleep. He dropped me off at the Sahara Blvd. exit, only a mile or so from my folk’s house, and I thanked him.
I started walking up the hill where the Wonder World store used to be, where I bought my first LPs, and I’d hardly walked ten yards, hadn’t put my thumb out, when a yellow Datsun pickup pulled over. Wow. Another ride. I was kind of thinking maybe I’d be better off walking, when I realized it was my brother Rob, hopping out of the cab. He threw my pack in the pickup bed.
I was home. After explaining why I was so much later than expected, my parents offered to pay my Amtrak fare back to LA and I gratefully accepted. And that was my last solo hitchhiking trip.
*** For years I was sure that mine was a lucky encounter with William Bonin, one of three “Freeway Killers” active in Southern California around that time. (And not to be confused with the “Freeway Strangler”, who specialized in female victims). And at the time I was hitching, I was aware of there being “freeway murders” of hitchhikers . I was twenty-one, had hitchhiked with friends and alone up and down the coast, and to Tucson, Phoenix, and Palm Springs. I was young.
Bonin was known to have several accomplices who helped him procure victims, and who accompanied him on his murderous forays in his Ford Econoline van. I figure that the first “victim pickup attempt” failed—because I didn’t like the second ramp—and after the weird piano tuner returned me to that first on-ramp, he immediately called his partner to come and get me in the hatchback.
Other than telling this story to friends and family, I never thought much more about it. Years (actually decades) later, I was exchanging emails with the late writer and friend Anthony Bruno about his biography of “the Iceman” mob killer, commenting that professional hit men are actually serial killers who have found an accepting home. Recalling my experience brought up a wave of angst that wouldn’t go away, and feeling that the Internet gave me access to information I never had before, I began reading about Bonin and the other “Freeway Killers”. I confirmed that the timeline didn’t seem right, even though the one or two photos I could find of Bonin looked to me like the guy who dumped me out in the desert. But it was a long time ago.
If Bonin was in jail until October of 1978 and didn’t meet his two main accomplices, Vernon Butts (whose description fits my memory of “the piano tuner”) and Gregory Miley, until after he was released from his incarceration in 1978, then who picked me up?
If it wasn’t Bonin, who was it? Or, who werethey? There are a number of similar unsolved murders from the same time. The geography, Econoline van, and apparent Modus Operandi, appear to match that of Bonin, not of Kearney or Kraft, the other “Freeway Killers”. Essentially, in my case, no crime was committed, just a lot of weird, scary, and intimidating shit. Maybe the two San Bernardino “pick ups” were completely unrelated. But they sure seemed oddly related to me at the time. Even the couple of documented “failed” Bonin attempts sound eerily like my night on the road to Victorville. For all I know, if I hadn’t spoken up, if I hadn’t stood up for myself and spoken out and drawn the boundaries, I might have been one more mutilated corpse discarded by the side of an LA freeway.
I include links and notes here if you want to read more, but I must warn you that these crimes were not just “simple” murders. They consist of absolutely horrifying torture and mutilation of victims. Read at your own risk.
Patrick Kearney (also known as the “Trash Bag Murderer”), killings 1965-March 1977, shoot victims in the ear with a .22 in his VW Beetle, or truck, apprehended July 1, 1977, serving 21 life sentences in Mule Creek State Prison, CA https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Kearney
William Bonin, “the Freeway Killer” in 1975 picks up hitchhiker David McVicker (who survives), Murders May 79 – June 80, imprisoned Dec. 75 to Oct. 11, 1978. Drives an olive-green Ford Econoline when committing abductions. William Pugh 17, picked up in 1980, survives, because he was seen leaving with Bonin. Bonin executed Feb. 1996, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Bonin
Vernon Butts, part-time magician and occultist, meets Bonin in ’78, Bonin accomplice (one of 4) – Committed suicide (hanging) January 1981
Gregory Miley, meets Bonin in ’78, IQ of 56, accomplice of Bonin, dies in prison.
Info and Links for Friends and Loved Ones
More relatively current updates about Life in the Age of Covid: As businesses open, valiant warriors peacefully confront racism and Police Violence, and the unwanted visitor in the People’s House relishes any #Diversion as he refuses to #WearAMask.
The Risks – Know Them – Avoid Them — Successful Infection = Exposure to Virus x Time It seems many people are breathing some relief, and I’m not sure why. An epidemic curve has a relatively predictable upslope and once the peak is reached, the back slope can also be predicted. We have robust data from the outbreaks in China and Italy, that shows the backside of the mortality curve declines slowly, with 5/20/20— Read on www.erinbromage.com/post/the-risks-know-them-avoid-them
It’s been almost a year since I’ve posted anything. I noticed I keep emailing this info to people and update it every couple of days when someone sends me something of value. Silly me! It’s easier to put it on the blob. So here it is…
March 22, 2020, A doctor in New York recommended this video by another doctor. A bit long, PLEASE watch the whole thing, important and hopeful information throughout. “Dr. David Price of Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City shares information in a Mar. 22 Zoom call with family and friends on empowering and protecting families during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
March 17, 2020 Web Blog entry, by Dr. Hyman. Mark Hyman, MD is the Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, and a 13-time New York Times Bestselling author.
April 19, 2020, Web Page is dynamic, I can’t find the “permalink” so you might have to follow it from this page. If you don’t want all the latest news, scroll down, to the bottom of the page to “Answers to Your Frequently Asked Questions”, and click “Read More” and pick a topic.
But does the WSJ really “debunk” the NYT? Or just stir up the drama pot? Let’s remember, the WSJ is a Rupert Murdoch paper. That is, it might as well be a Fox News paper. Reading the “debunking” article takes you to a site called “Fierce Wireless“, clearly a marketing mouthpiece for the telecom industry, which seems to end each article with an explanation that there is no definitive proof of the dangers of cellular radiation!!
Do you feel “whipsawed”? Does jumping around from article to article remind you of trying to figure out what happened in the final weeks of the election in 2016? Does all this drama remind you of reality TV? Do you feel like you need to wash your hands? Do you have that uneasy feeling in your stomach like the one you get when you have been spending too much time on Facebook? That queasy feeling that you’re being used, or played, and that something you are doing is wrong? Pay attention to that feeling, and spend less time on the Internet!
Because have you ever had to work this hard? To find out the truth? To get people to see that you are calm, and reasonable, and believe in facts and science? Had to work this hard to get your friends, neighbors, colleagues to understand that you agree with them? That you have common ground? Mutual goals? Our opposition—the trolls, the haters, the deceptive marketers, the monopolists and corporate shills, I lump “them” all together—they would like us to just say, “Screw it! I have no control, the monopolies are gonna ram this through, I don’t know who my representatives represent.” The opposition have managed to make us distrustful and antagonistic even of people who AGREE with us!!
Now take a deep breath. Fortunately, distrust of others, including of our own government, is one of the seeds of our (mostly, still) democratic system!! There are processes and inputs and options. Wahoo. Really. So hang in there and talk to your neighbors. And I mean talk, not text, not email. And go to meetings. You won’t agree about everything. Who does? And you can always back off, regroup, compromise—the opposition wants you to quit—but don’t, don’t give up!
Now, let’s get back to facts and articles…
I like the Environmental Health Trust. They may have a slightly slanted view, but the “slant” is towards facts and health and safety! EHT Founder Devra Davis, PhD. responded to the clearly biased NYT drama-mongering piece with a thorough link-laden article of her own. Now, before you dive down that rabbit hole, READ THIS ONE.
After searching and reading until I am sore in the head (can you tell?), I found one article that I recommend to everyone. This is really for the skeptics. There’s a ton of great material on my 5G page, but just read this one article. After that, if you are so inspired, then off you go. Here it is, and please read ALL the words:
Whatever happened to the Cliff Swallow colony that lived under the Lambertville-New Hope Bridge??
Friday, April 19, 2019— This Spring I saw Cliff Swallows at Center Bridge (at Stockton) and Bulls Island, but are there any Cliff Swallows nesting on the Lambertville-New Hope Bridge any more?
In short, yes. At around 10:00 am today, I counted 10 Cliff Swallows plunging from the underside of the Lambertville New Hope Bridge, flying erratically and quickly out, and up, and away, as they do, before you can snap a photo. That’s good.
But as recently as 2013 there were 75-100 Cliff Swallows nesting under the bridge and following those crazy flight patterns to catch insects and return them to waiting chicks. I’ve checked a couple more times, at different times of the day, but the news is no different. There is a small colony beneath the bridge. I will, check again later in the Spring. Meanwhile check out the slide show.
Here’s what happened in the six photos above:
The Frame started to come off the sign.
Someone pushed the frame back on, and stuck a brick under it to hold it in place.
The frame came off completely
Something happened to the sign, it was removed, and the supporting panel remained.
The metal panel attracted stickers and graffitti
The graffitti-ed metal panel was removed, leaving just the sign post.
May 1, 2019 — I promised an update. In March I wrote a query on the Contact form at the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission web site.
DRJTBC Contact Form – Christopher Plummer Submitted Web Contact Form
Submitted 2019/03/05 9:13 PM on:
Regarding the New Hope – Lambertville Bridge: Around 1981 the DRJTBC placed an informational sign for pedestrians on the Lambertville side of the bridge that commemorated the bridge as a home for the Cliff Swallows (birds) that have maintained a colony under the bridge, returning every Spring. (The Center Bridge- Stockton Bridge also has a similar sign.) The sign in Lambertville has fallen into disrepair in the past few years and has now disintegrated into a shiny steel rectangle plastered with stickers and graffiti. There is a DRJTBC number and barcode on the back of the sign by which it can be identified.
As a long time resident of Lambertville, I would very much like to see the sign restored with the art and information about the swallows that it once had. (I have photographs I’d be happy to share.)
Is it possible that DRJTBC could find a way to repair this sign?
And then on April 1 (I’m not laughing), I got this response:
From: Joseph F. Donnelly firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Response to your inquiry to the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge CommissionDate: 04/01/2019 at5:53PM
Thank you for visiting the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission’s website and using the “contact us” portal.
Please be advised that the New Hope-Lambertville Toll-Supported Bridge sign you referenced in your message no longer exists and was not produced by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission (DRJTBC).
As I recall, the sign promoted how proceeds from the New Jersey Wildlife Income Tax Check Off were utilized to place artificial nests at the New Hope-Lambertville Tax- Supported Bridge after the bridge’s concrete walkway was replaced by a laminated timber deck walkway in 1982 (subsequently replaced with the current walkway in 2004). (Note: The formal name of the bridge in 1982 was the New Hope-Lambertville Tax-Supported Bridge since it was jointly owned by the two states until July 1987, when its ownership was transferred outright to the DRJTBC.) The Commission, which controlled the bridge at that time on behalf of the two states, cooperated in the post-project remediation efforts regarding the migratory swallows.
Please understand that there is nothing in the Commission’s meeting minutes or in our engineering department’s records that support your assertion that the sign was placed at the location by the DRJTBC. I found nothing in the official record that shows the Commission requisitioning, procuring, or paying for the sign. Regrettably, it’s unclear who exactly produced the sign.
What I can tell you is the following:
In conducting research for an historical account that I compiled on the bridge crossing’s200th anniversary in 2014, I noted that the sign had the headline “Cliff Swallows Benefit from NJ Wildlife Income Tax Check Off” and its content explained a swallow-nest remediation effort that took place at the bridge back in the 1980s (over 30 years ago). For your edification, the sign’s credit line said the illustration and design were by Doreen Curtin with a copyright of 1984, suggesting the sign was placed at some point during or after that year. It also said “Screen Printing by Aztec Graphics.” But the sign did not cite what agency or group produced it.
That said, the Commission is not in a position to repair the sign for the following reasons: 1. It had fallen into disrepair and had outlived its purpose in promoting a project that took place more than three decades ago. 2. The Commission did not produce the sign. 3. Whatever entity did produce the sign never maintained it after its installation.
While I can’t speak unilaterally for this agency on a matter such as this, it’s certainly conceivable the Commission would be open to considering installation of acceptable signage referencing the bridge’s swallows and/or swallow nests if some organization or entity were to again shoulder the time, effort, and costs of design and production.
– Joe Donnelly
Deputy Executive Director of Communications DRJTBC
New Hope, PA.
So…we have more information. I had forgotten the initial connection of the sign to the appreciation of the nests disturbed beneath the bridge and the careful restoration of ceramic nests in the hopes of maintainting the colony. I am quite sure that subsequent “upgrades” to the footpath over the bridge—which is now some kind of plastic-paint-covered metal—were not so attentive to the colony.
The sign disappeared mysteriously shortly after I sent my query. I don’t believe in coincidences.
Maybe we can get someone to step up and restore the sign as suggested by Mr. Donnelly? But first, I think it’s more important to restore the appreciation for the birds themselves, the Cliff Swallows of Lambertville, which appear to be in decline to the point of non-existence.
“Thin-out the underbrush and small trees on the western bank and in and on the stone wall between Coryell Street and Bridge Street.”
In fact nearly every tree between Coryell and Bridge has been eliminated, and if not for citizen and mayoral intervention, the large tree near the Bridge Street bridge would have been removed. (Photos forthcoming, details below).
From: Judy Detrano Date: March 23, 2019 at 9:53:57 PM EDT To: Christopher Plummer, Julia Fahl Subject:Re: Trees along the canal (info now on my blog)
I have but a bit more information which I will email you tomorrow. I was with them as they cut away and with the help of Mayor Julia and Cindy Ege we saved the tree by the canal at the bridge alongside the Princeton Bank. Michael A. Sellar was the Facility Manager , Delaware & Raritan Canal Office, that I spoke with on site. <snip> The destruction of our trees in and around Lambertville has become an issue to be addressed and we need the support of a number of departments, including NJ DEP.
March 25, 2019
Hello again Chris,
Upon speaking with Michael Sellar of the NJWSA on-site the day they cut down the trees from Coryell to Bridge Street in Lambertville the following answers to my questions were as follows:
1. The cutting of the trees was to prevent them from falling into the canal which would undermine the drinking quality of the water
2. They believe the trees and shrubs are destroying the structure of the stone wall along the canal, river side of the canal
3. They are not fixing, replacing or relining the stone canal wall (even though the stones are there in the canal) because the budget allotment does not cover the expense to do so. It is faster, easier & cheaper to cut down the trees.
4. He has no explanation for why a tree here and there was left uncut but they would be happy to come back and cut them down. (3 trees remain by the River Horse Brewery building)
5. He is not aware of any advance notice required to the city of Lambertville as that side of the canal falls under their maintenance obligations.
6. The towpath side of the canal will not be sheared by them as that side of the canal is under the authority of NJ State Parks Commission.
7. They admit that their maintenance of the canal has been neglected for close to 25 years due to budget constrictions
8. They can be stymied by the Shade Tree Commission from cutting down a tree that falls under the Shade Tree protection.
+The NJWSA supposedly has a Capital Fund Component for Capital Improvement..where is that money and why not fix the stone wall
+They are indeed required to notify the public if more than 1/2 acre is to be ‘deforested’ with 60 days to hold a public hearing
+ I have not ascertained their responsibility to notify the City of Lambertville
+ They might have had to submit a tree cutting plan to the Division of Parks & Forestry as the property is also NJState Park property. (or should have)
+ It may be possible to demand some sort of replanting to refurbish the embankment via the Delaware & Raritan Canal Commission
+ There were no Project Updates or notices on the NJWSA website referring to Lambertville that I uncovered
+ There appears to be no coordination/integration/communication between the various commissions to control either of committees/authority/commssions to review, supervise or hold to any aesthetics of proposed work, nor review of the destruction of wildlife habitats, particularly to bird species and bats.
+ If the DRCC has jurisdiction over the entire state-owned D & R Canal, should they have not been notified and required to offer approvals of the NJWSA ?
+ Also, where would a public notice appear that would reach the residents of Lambertville without their needing to search for such a notice.
+ And, I have heard, with no further information, explanations or confirmations, that the railroad had leased the property to which the rails are on, but that their lease had/has expired and there is no current enforceable lease at this time. Does that not restrict them from doing anything along the tracks through Lambertville until that is made more clear and current in their authority to do so. AND that the railroad does impact our wildlife habitats, noise and air pollution…..and what input do the residents of Lambertville have, if any, to curtail their work in our city.
Concerned citizens are encouraged to contact their representatives: