Trains At Night

On the back porch with three citronella candles, a cream-colored hoodie, and a full moon. There is a chocolate almond croissant and red wine is about 37% likely to happen.

We don’t know if there are more trains at night or it just seems that way because the rest of the town quiets down.

It’s relaxing. I look forward to a freight train appearing in one of my music recordings at the perfect moment.

That train can take you to my old stomping grounds of Bound Brook, but you’d better board it carefully since it’s a freight train and it hauls ass.

The town has its own museum, but I haven’t visited yet. That might be where I find out when exactly the house was built. 1900? There’s an 1887 map that suggests, at that time, there was nothing on the street but a single windmill and twelve cartoon trees. The house two lots down used to be a record store. What was that record store called?

Hopewell Chocolate Factory is right behind my street. It’s no longer a factory, but maybe the residents have some good chocolate? I’ll break in late at night and report back to you.

On Castle Road, there’s a castle that a racist cult leader lived in a long time ago. He felt that people should eat bananas all day and that younger men and older women should have sex with each other – but only every eight days. He dreamed of rebuilding the town and calling it Ralston, his pen name, but he was chased out of Jersey before he could. Anyway, forget you know all that because, as of this summer, it was on the market and looking really beautiful. Like a really opulent library.

That’s not far from a salon called Sheer Madness. That property was also for sale this year, and we had to entertain the idea of buying it and then evicting the presumably fine folks at Sheer Madness. It didn’t feel right. I’m glad it didn’t happen.

The Hopewell Frog War. One day, it will be the perfect day to learn about the Hopewell Frog War.

The attic is just as creepy as you’d hope. Half the stuff looks like it’s from a hundred years ago. Old chairs and desks and such. And the Hopewell Monopoly-style game from the ‘80s. Having been built before air conditioning, there is a large, no-nonsense, whole-house fan. This fan could kill everyone you know and not lose an RPM.

I’ve still never met the bagpipe guy. Tonight the bagpipes started around 5 PM. There was some violin that started around 6:30.

One of the neighborhood cats is named Noodles.

Someone else plays bagpipes on the next block. A well-known drummer lives somewhere downtown, as well. He is almost dead, but he sounds great.

The guy across the street gave me his contra dance band CD. We listened to it while driving around the Adirondacks.

More than once, I’ve sat in the backyard alternately listening to a nearby band practice clashing gently with the sounds of Grant Peterson, a gifted performer who plays at the bar on the main drag. One night, there were three different musical performances audible from my backyard, a surround-sound medley that sometimes synced up well and sometimes didn’t.

One day, I wandered up the hill to the graveyard and find that an incredible amount of Wyckoffs have lived in our town. The internet suggests that one of them lived on our street in 1930.

Another day, I noticed that the great artist Seward Johnson is buried there, not far from the Marilyn Monroe sculpture of his that I see when I walk Railroad Place. Marilyn is a little spooky at night. Skirt always blowing up whether there’s wind or not. Mr. Johnson’s plot, just like Chet Atkins’ plot in Nashville, is as modest as can be.

We experienced four severe storms in our first two months here. The remnants of Hurricane Ida came through and made the backyard, for hours, look like a swimming pool that another swimming pool was being poured into. Elsewhere in town, two people died in the flood waters. We learned that night that this old house needs some upgrades but can withstand a lot.

It felt good to put my mom’s old generator in the garage, in the event that we’d need to power the sump pump with it. Nobody would’ve been happier about our move to this great old house than my mom.

I’m glad that I have some of mom’s tools here and I’m glad that I have dad’s guitars here. I just had his dad’s guitar restored at the shop – it’s a Gibson that’s now about eighty years old, the one he bought for $10 during World War II.

The train’s whistle is echoing long and slow through the valley. The sound of this long, loud train’s motion is bouncing off the other side of town so loudly that you could be fooled into thinking there’s another train on a parallel track, somewhere near the main drag.

Two to three full moons dance erratically through the old windows as you pass through the room.

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