I was born in northern Jersey, so it was inevitable - and evidently a birthright - that I became the huge Bruce Springsteen fan I am today. During those awkwardly-difficult teen years, I’d often turn to my coveted Springsteen albums and cassettes for some form of direction and answers to life’s crazy questions. Quite often it helped, because at the time it seemed his music spoke not only to me, but for me and also about me. Even now, after a particularly rough day, I’ll put on Side Two of “Darkness” and crank it up to eleven. Seems to work every time.
In 1981, Springsteen recorded the dark, controversial acoustic album “Nebraska,” punctuated by a popular song called “Atlantic City” (actually his first song to be made into a video). This song tells the sordid tale of an ‘honest man’ who struggles with his finances, decides to join the mafia as a hit man and begins to question his own mortality. He eventually tells his wife that he’s met this guy and is “gonna do a little favor for him.” Not surprisingly, you’re left to believe that the “favor” is to collect some debt, kill somebody or to vandalize some property. Over 30 years later, this type of storyline still manages to weave itself into the fabric of our own lives and in today’s society.
In the song, it’s easy to understand how a once-honest, now-desperate person eventually turns to bad deeds - vandalism, for example - as an outlet or an excuse for their unfortunate misgivings. In real life, however, it's hard to understand how people with apparently nothing better to do often resort to vandalism as an outlet or excuse for their pathetic, boring lives. I’m talking, of course, about this week’s unfortunate episode of vandalism at the Story Walk at Jordan Pond in Shrewsbury, which was less than 48 hours from proud completion before some angry soul(s) decided it would be a really good idea to destroy it.
Two days. That's it. Awful. What's even more awful is that, as of this writing, the cowards who vandalized the Story Walk haven't yet been caught (thankfully for the perps, I'm not a cop in town. Otherwise, they'd learn how to scrub bathrooms spotless with a toothbrush REAL quick). Library Director Ellen Dolan solemnly declared that the library could not afford to replace the broken signs and stakes.
To those of you who took your anger out on the Story Walk at Jordan Pond, I ask: Why? What compelled you to physically and maniacally tear down something beautiful that wasn’t yours? How on earth could you ruin something that was built for the enjoyment of young children? Let me guess - you were bored. Am I right? Well, I’ve got something for you to do. Head over to the Shrewsbury Public Library and locate a dictionary. Look up the words “Pathetic,” “Hateful,” “Selfish,” Heartless” and “Immature.” Learn what they mean, because you are all of these. Also, while you’re there, apologize to Ellen Dolan, because it was her (great) idea to erect the Story Walk at Jordan Pond along its 1/3-mile paved trail as an enjoyable diversion for local children and families.
I've always believed that good things eventually happen to good people, and fortunately this is no exception. Enter Sean Flynn of Flynn's Truck Stop on Route 20 and local student group Leaders of Tomorrow. Upon hearing about the Story Walk vandalism, they stepped up to the plate and took immediate action: the Leaders of Tomorrow have kindly volunteered their time to restore the Story Walk to its prior glory and Mr. Flynn has generously offered to pay for everything. On behalf of the town, I extend a heartfelt and appreciative "Thank You" to Mr. Flynn and to the Leaders of Tomorrow. It's refreshing to know that we live amongst truly good people, especially at times when those lurking in the shadows (at Jordan Pond) choose to make things difficult for the rest of us. Happily, the good guys won this time, and Mr. Flynn has a new customer.
Now, if you excuse me, I’m off to the basement to crank up Side Two of “Darkness.”
See you at Jordan Pond.