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Epitaph Of a Park Bench
by David Farside
Oct 15, 2012 | 2138 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It was a cool October morning. The maple leaves were just starting to cover my rusted, battered and worn out frame. It reminded me of Joyce Kilmer’s poem “trees” written in 1936. Kilmer lived in Mahwah N.J., not too far from my home. Every time I hear the poem, I get a little nostalgic. It reminds of the time I was born and the day I died.

I remember the first day of my existence. I was assembled on a big city lot in the middle of the slums being transformed from a wasteland of garbage to a community park. For more than 70 years I shared so many memorable experiences with the children and neighbors,I actually felt almost human.

The aroma of ethnic cooking seemed to shroud the park in a mist of competition between Koshered chicken soup, Italian lasagna, Swedish pastries, German sauerbraten, homemade polish sausage and Puerto Rican flat bread.

Summers were times to listen to Brooklyn Dodger baseball and watch children play silly games and fight over nothing. One minute the mothers loved and played with their children, the next minute they were trying to beat them over the head with a broomstick. Things never seem to change.

Gus the hot-dog vendor, setup shop next to me. It gave me an opportunity to see and hear everyone’s opinion on what was going on in the world. Especially, during the FDR years.

Economic depression, war in both Europe and the Pacific and divisions between conservative Republicans and socialist Democrats had to be reconciled. Both sides compromised to make a deal. The “New Deal” created  a Social Security system the government has borrowed against to finance our war machine. The Work Project Administration (WPA) put hungry men to work. Citizens Conservation Corps (CCC) camps hired young workers in rural America under the direction of the U.S. Army; Replacing the bayonets of war in the hands of our children with shovels and honest work. Combined with the mandatory military draft, members of street gangs were kept to a minimum.

Today the neighborhood aroma is replaced by the stench of progress. As the Autumn leaves fall, I can hear the huge machines coming to deliver me into the hands of oblivion. They say inanimate objects have no conscious emotions or feelings. That may be true, but I’ll always remember how this country took care of the sick, elderly and its war veterans who needed assistance; not by choice but circumstance. I’ll miss the homeless veterans and discarded mentally challenged who slept on my lap covered with old newspapers on cold winter days-thanks to Ronald Reagan refusing to allocate funds to mental health facilities in California. His trickle-down policy has lined the pockets of the rich with gold and left the less fortunate lining the streets of poverty.

I’ll miss caressing gentle neighborhood children in my ornamental arms of security; listening to future plans of young lovers dreaming about their long journey together in life and the chicken soup of Mrs. Gabowitz.

I’ll miss the hot-dog stand where I learned how Republicans are attempting to replace the New Deal with their New Steal conservative philosophy. They want to steal our individual rights. Steal from the poor and give to the rich, steal our freedom if we’re not Christian and steal a women’s health if we don’t all believe in their God. Maybe someday, Ill be back to see what happens.

David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist.
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