Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Come, Drink with Me While We Feed the Hungry

can and cocktails logo If you are one of my local readers or if you aren’t but you enjoy traveling long distances to chug with total strangers, mark your calendar for 5:30 p.m., Sept. 29.

That’s when I will be among nine area bloggers hosting the “Cans and Cocktails” happy hour at the Chinese Mirch restaurant, 35 Atlantic St., in Stamford. All profits from the event go to The Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County to help feed the needy in our community.

On the wagon? We got that covered, too! Chinese Mirch is also donating 10% of the restaurant's food sales from Monday through Thursday next week to the food bank.

To attend, RSVP by e-mail to stamfordnotes@gmail.com. When you go to the event, bring along a few canned goods or boxes of non-perishable food items (dry pasta, mac and cheese, cereal) to donate to the cause.

Those who attend will be able to imbibe my specially designed “local” potent potable for the happy hour – a nuclear green concoction I have named the “Scofieldtown Park Pollutant.”
What’s a Scofieldtown Park Pollutant? Well, maybe this column I wrote for the local newspaper last year will give you an idea:


Hazy Memories of Scofieldtown Park
We all like to wax romantically about our childhoods, so please indulge me as I rhapsodize about my times at Scofieldtown Park, that dumpy little former dump in North Stamford most suspect as the cause of the pesticide-tainted wells on nearby properties.

First, to the best of my earliest recollection, the place looked decrepit even when it was only a few years old in the late 1970s.

There were a couple of fast-rusting swings and a tall twisting red slide that on a summer day could burn off prepubescent leg hair in a single swoosh. Cemented in the ground was at least one of those monopole grills that no one in their right mind ever uses unless they consider rust a flavor enhancer. And, when the sun reached its apex and the wind blew just so, the park air became rarefied with a fragrance best described as a Metro-North bathroom filled with rotting leaves.

Ah, good times. Good times.

Scofieldtown Park was the place I first hit a real baseball. My Tiny League team practiced weekly on the ball field at the top of the park's hill in the summer of 1977. Rather than wearing batting helmets to protect us from fastballs, it appears it might have been better for us to sport gas masks to save us from breathing in the volatile organic compounds, pesticides and "other inorganics" kicked up in the dust. That's if you can believe the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, of course.

I remember being disappointed the day I returned there to find the ball field was gone. Little did I know that it had been abandoned and buried because coaches got tired of hustling their players off for tetanus shots and stitches from the chemical drums and old appliances that kept rising like zombies from under the fill.

This also was the place where I first learned to hit a tennis ball. With our aluminum rackets from the old Springdale Woolworth's in hand, my sister and I often had to wait to get on one of its two courts. When I last visited the park about four years ago, the nets were in place and the courts appeared surprisingly clean and crack-free. Then I got closer and realized the surface was wavier than Conan O'Brien's hair. Did the East Side Clairol plant dump old batches of volumizing hairspray there?

This was also the place I took my preschool-aged children to play once. Just once.

For years, I harbored contempt toward officials who let go to waste what could have been a nice little amenity -- a place for community interaction in an otherwise vast and isolated part of our city. After reading the recent newspaper articles and environmental reports, I'm happy they let Scofieldtown Park get run down so as few people as possible were exposed to its dangers in recent years.

Now our local leaders are scrambling about madly, trying to make amends. They are quickly installing filters in homes and authorizing spending for city water mains, which is good assuming the nearby reservoirs continue to escape the seepage of our past sins. But, I ask, where has this urgency been in the past?

EPA reports about PBCs, pesticides and other toxins on the former landfill site have been filed on several occasions since the 1980s and as recently as 2007. Were city leaders hoping the bad stuff would just magically disappear? Maybe they thought someone at the federal agency had simply forgotten to insert a "not" when a 2001 agency report about toxins at the park said "impacts to nearby groundwater drinking water supply wells are suspected."

All I can say for certain is this: In all the hours I spent at Scofieldtown Park during my childhood, I'm sure the safest activity I ever participated in there might have been an underage keg party.

12 comments:

  1. I don't need much of a reason to drink, but this one sounds like a good one. To bad I am far far away. Good work as always.

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  2. I am strangely tempted to drive three hours, visit first the bar then the park with a red plastic cup in hand, and then drive home, where no one will ever notice I left. If I make it back.

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  3. Oh how I miss the days of tetherball, dodgeball, and playing amongst the toxic barrels. We kids knew how to play dangerously, without a cell phone umbilical cord!

    Glad you lived to tell the tale.

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  4. Ah childhood...my favorite was the merry-go-round at school. A giant, rusty, steel-plated saucer with bent handrails and chipped lead paint. Yellow and read. Round and round we went, either a "Mustard" or a "Ketchup". Round and round until someone puked or tripped and rightfully dragged on the concrete circle. Then one day the axis snapped. Kids went flying. Someone's leg got caught. Definitely our best ride ever.

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  5. I know of a park like that not far from my house. Well, maybe minus toxic waste, but I wouldn't bet on it.
    Wish I could attend the soiree! Sounds like fun!

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  6. I went back to my hometown last year to discover that my favorite park had been ripped out. On the down side, the park had been replaced with a strip mall. On the upside, the mall had a Starbucks.

    Yes, I'm going to hell.

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  7. I know you've got a point in there somewhere but it's lost on me. My brain fried after I opened one too many links and saw this:

    Let's gossip! ...because life in CT is so boring if we don't.

    Best tag line evah!

    I'd come but I'd have to cross 2 state lines and I don't do state lines.

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  8. Mom o' 2 - This is what modern childhood lacks -- dangerous playground equipment that create lasting impression. And scars. And nightmares.

    Sybil - I'll have your share.

    Didactic - My friend, Starbucks is hell.

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  9. Cheryl - Those terms of parole can be pretty stiff.

    Cocotte - Live is such a relative term.

    Homemaker - If your journey started here, you could just follow the toxic green glow back home.

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  10. Otter - Thanks, Otter. Next I hope to raise the dead. That's could be me if I drink too many of the Pollutants.

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  11. yeah...I think the drive there might do me in... and the drive back with your concoction in me would def. keep me from being safe. So...I guess I'd better stay where I am! :)

    Hope you have a good turn out!

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