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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The river Down Neck

The Passaic River -- the nasty body of "water" next to which we grew up in the Ironbound section of Newark, N.J. -- is the subject of a profile here, written by a fellow with whom we worked in our newspaper days, 40 years ago. The worst of the pollution in the river came from this outfit, a short walk from where we hung out throughout high school. Who knows what we breathed thanks to those guys. But we were smart enough to stay out of the Passaic around there -- o.k., except for that one hot day...

Comments (3)

I remember going to Ironbound for the BEST Portuguese food around...
(and reading your entry about the Pulaski skyway was great accompaniment to my last Dutch Bros of the day)
Cheers, Mike

I grew up adjacent to the old Passaic, further up stream in Union County N.J. This was in the early 60's and there were bull frogs, toads, box turtles, snakes, muskrats(we thought) and catfish in and around the river in the summer. In the winter we would play ice hockey on it. We also used to pack canteens and lunches and take ice skating hikes along the river.
I tried to stay out of it, and certainly didn't swim in it if I didn't have to. It was never clear water. Sometimes after periodic flooding, strange items would appear along the river. One year there were huge blocks of brown stained styrofoam. Never figured out what industrial application they were from, but we carved them up into small one person boats. Of course we were so ignorant then about chemical threats that we used to cheer when the DDT trucks came by to spray the neighborhood and along the river marshes. Mosquitos and poison ivy were our worst summertime enemies. Good to know even a river that far gone can be recovered.

Nice piece, Jack.

I spent a lot of summers in the '50s at Greenwood lake, way up the Pompton and Wanaque branches of the Passaic, well above the Wanaque / Pompton reservoirs. Amazing amount of outboard motor gas went into Greenwood Lake and flowed down into the reservoirs.

Its amazing how far north into NY State the Ramapo branch of the Passaic goes.

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