Corrections or additions?
This article by Richard Rein was prepared for the August 27, 2003
issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Richard K. Rein
Reflections on the recent past. Probably no recent
received more comment than the one documenting my sojourn into the
woods adjoining the Millstone River on the Sarnoff Corporation
But before I recount those comments, allow me to share additional
thoughts about last week’s column, on the style of death notices,
just in case I am called prematurely from this labor.
Richard Skelly, informed me that U.S. 1 itself was mentioned in an
obituary in the Star-Ledger newspaper. The deceased was Marianne
of Milltown, who died June 28. Previte was a nurse who had worked
for Johnson & Johnson and later taught health in the East Brunswick
public school system. After chronicling her many career landmarks,
the obituary commented on her life outside of work:
"An avid ballroom dancer, Mrs. Previte and her dance partner were
featured on the cover of U.S. 1 Newspaper."
Sure enough, Marianne Previte and her partner were featured in the
April 6, 1988, issue of U.S. 1, flying across the dance floor at the
Nottingham Ballroom and illustrating Barbara Fox’s story about
Dancing," the now classic movie. In addition, Skelly pointed out,
Previte is the mother of Franke Previte, who wrote the movie’s
song, "The Time of My Life," which won an Oscar.
Other U.S. 1 staffers, meanwhile, pointed out that I did not have
to stray from that same issue of the paper to uncover yet another
wonderful way of expressing the passage from here to there, or from
life to death. In the article on the rebirth of the Doors, the 1960s
rock group, freelancer Barry Gutman referred to Paris as the place
where singer Jim Morrison left this mortal coil. The reference is
from Hamlet, referring to death as "when we have shuffled off
this mortal coil."
In other words, in the 21st century as in the 16th, you may not simply
die in peace. But whether you shuffle off or are plucked from above,
it doesn’t hurt to keep on the dancing in the meantime.
which a fictional character attempts to write a grand opening to his
novel and begins with "It was a dark and stormy night — or
was it?" E. E. Whiting, a contributor to the Summer Fiction issue
(the third chapter of her novel, The Seven O’Clock Train of Thought,
appeared this year), immediately recognized the reference as something
more than a catch phrase from a Peanuts cartoon. The genesis of the
line, Whiting noted, is the 1830 novel by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton
titled "Paul Clifford," which opens like this:
"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents —
except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust
of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene
lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty
flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."
Bulwer-Lytton’s opening sentence has become such a poster boy for
purple prose that a fiction contest now exists in his name, dedicated
to celebrating the worst pieces of writing that can be concocted.
Fortunately for U.S. 1 readers, no other parts of this legacy appeared
in the Summer Fiction issue. For more consult
the Sarnoff property, which may be the site of a four-lane highway
to divert traffic from Washington Road in West Windsor, I suggested
that the "bluffs" that environmental groups want to preserve
might be more rhetorical than topographical.
The ink was barely dry before I was reminded by Lincoln Hollister,
the Princeton professor and environmentalist, that he had offered
to take me on a canoe ride up the Millstone to see the river for
Hollister gave me a second chance, but my schedule did not permit
me to take advantage.
Meanwhile, though, Sue Parris of West Windsor sent me a Ruth Rendell
novel, "Road Rage," set in an English town torn by a debate
over a bypass.
Parris also sent a 1985 column in a historical society newsletter,
written by a Florida retiree reminiscing about his days 50 years
swimming in the area known as the "sheepwash." Way back then,
interestingly, the swimming hole was a principal recreation site and
it was much more accessible than it is today: "A whole lace-work
of braided roads [led] to the banks of the Millstone. As cars came
to the river they would be parked under trees 10 to 15 feet above
Whether the banks of the Millstone are truly bluffs, or 10 feet high
as the retiree recalled from his youth, or maybe five feet high as
I measured them a few weeks ago, they are worth saving. The good news
is that Sarnoff already has agreed to site the bypass road 200 feet
further away from the river than was originally planned.
At that distance even people without a canoe tied to their car might
be able to amble on over and enjoy it. Obviously reports of the
"passing" are grossly exaggerated.
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.