The Swamp Girl: Chapter 2 – The Swamp on the Hill

The Swamp Girl

Chapter 2 – The Swamp on the Hill

Too bad my childhood neighbor across the street didn’t give transgenderism a try.  While the Bible tells us that it’s a sin against God, maybe she’d have been happier being a fella and gotten the heck off my back.

Just about every house north of the Ramapo fault in Northern New Jersey is set on a hillside.  You had to drive around a switchback to get to our neighborhood, built on a hill that maybe wasn’t particularly soaring, but was on quite a steep grade, nonetheless.  On the overlook curve, the road was like a goat path.  From there, you had a full view of the valley below.  Quite beautiful at Christmas time, but not a road to speed on in bad weather.

The section of development in which we lived ran through a gully set on the eastern side of hill that swept down into a swamp.  The land then jutted up abruptly again to the next hillside.  Every house that was built on the hilly side of the road had a short, but steep driveway.  The houses on the swamp side had long, sloping driveways.  All our driveways were a nightmare in the winter.

Our house was on the hillside; hers and her family’s was below ours, descending into the swamp.  The houses way up on the top of the hill had no backyards at all; they dropped off abruptly into our backyards.  Our house was built on a granite slab.  The developers had tried blasting it, to no avail.  We had to settle for a half-basement, and a crawl space.

That’s not to say that we looked down on that family across the street, not in terms of class, at any rate.  They were much higher on the economic scale than we were.  The father was an electrician who made good money.  They had the first color television set in the neighborhood, which Mother Nature promptly fried with an enormous thunderbolt which I happened to witness.  They had a swimming pool.  They could afford to buy their son motorcycles and whatever else he wanted.  They bought their daughter (my nemesis) a horse.  Good for her.  No problem.

They also had a swimming pool.  My older brother pestered my mother to buy a swimming pool.  That meant cutting down a beautiful dogwood sapling.  Against her better judgment, my mother had the tree taken down and installed the pool.  Within a year or so, we discovered our yard was simply too shady for a pool.  The water was freezing.

We abandoned the pool.  A squirrel fell in and drowned, tearing a hole in the lining in its desperation.  The smell was horrible.  The pool was dismantled and my mother never again cut down a healthy tree because the neighbors had something we didn’t.

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Published in: on July 14, 2015 at 5:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

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