Thanks to Dan Aubrey for his terrific story in U.S. 1 about Rotary Island (July 5). I didn’t know that the island’s caretaker died escaping a winter storm in 1952 or that Rotary Island is part of Washington Crossing State Park. I wonder if Dan knows that the reason the club could sell the island was that the planned Tocks Island Dam in the Delaware Water Gap would have made Rotary Island a prime commercial property by providing flood control. Unfortunately for the buyer, the dam was scrapped, and the island went wild again.
Dan mentions Trenton Rotary President Maddock who was instrumental in purchasing the island for Rotary. I once met his son, Tom Maddock, who volunteers as a docent in Washington Crossing Park, PA. Tom said his father and uncle sold Maddock Pottery in 1929 because they were getting into the bathtub business, which required a heavy capital investment. Tom’s uncle took cash, his father — stock. It was 1929. Later, the Club sold Rotary Island, and the funds were used to extend student loans. Tom took a loan and carried around a card in his wallet until it was paid off.
Two families are memorialized in a large painting in the back of the Trenton City Hall legislative chamber — the Roeblings and the Maddocks.
Editor’s note: Paul, an entrepreneur and Titusville resident, posted this reaction on the Trenton Rotary Club’s Facebook page.
Dan Aubrey, meanwhile, had more to share about the mysterious Trenton island:
The original version of my Trenton island piece included a section that was edited because it took the narrative in an unexpected and off-topic way. But it is a story worth telling:
My wife and I return to our Trenton launching point, and I start pulling our kayaks up the bluff. As I reach the top, I glance up the street and notice what appears to be someone in a pioneer woman’s dress trotting towards me. As I stare, I noticed “she” has gray hair, a beard, and an Asian-styled sword dangling at the waist. Then in a few seconds, I am face-to-face with a Caucasian guy in his late 60s talking to me, as if we’ve been having a conversation, about how he’s training for a Society of Creative Anachronisms samurai event later that month.
As he tells me about his regalia, sword, and personal history — retired from the Navy and married to a woman in Trenton — my wife is wondering where I am and heads up the bluff to find me talking to a bearded guy in a kimono. After saying to herself, “He’s attracting crazy people again,” she pretends to see nothing, drags her kayak to the car, hops in, and stays there until the warrior sprints away. As I approach the car, she says, “What was that about?” her eyes watching the disappearing samurai.
“Me doing my job,” I reply. She shakes her head.