Some of my friends have fixed mythic places. For Richie D. it was Barnegat Light (albeit doubled as ‘curse of the family;’ another story). For me though it’s a shifting array of places: when it came down to the final question posed at the final scheduled reading of the campaign for Irish Waterfront—what drew you to this subject?—I heard myself talking Bayonne, so for that night…
As a 60s kid from corporate America living in foreign places like Southern New England, I reveled in visits to Hackensack, where my mother’s schoolmate and dear friend Eileen lived with her husband Vinny and big family on a very steep slope called Marvin Avenue. The kids had a
telescope trained on the bejeweled archipelago out there in the night of brilliantly twinkly lights: oh those bridges!! Including this one
linking Vinny’s southernmost Hudson County hometown to Staten Island. Decades later, we were living in Missouri homesick and determined to write about that mythic “place;” where and what precisely was it? It was visible from Bayonne both sides; the oceanic and the Newark Bay sides, as I discovered scouting Portside locations for what finally–another decade later–became On the Irish Waterfront.
It’s been a joy: the book remade itself, from “academic” matter to “trade” goods, as in the handsome “trade paperback” edition issuing this coming August. It started in Bayonne, or the view of Bayonne from the window on Marvin Avenue, alongside views through the precarious
fence atop the Palisades just down the road from Hackensack at the garden apartment complex whence lived Nora ‘Nonie’ Honan, beloved maternal grandmother. Views from all along those Palisades, in fact, like that through this still-standing wrought iron fence, as shared by Edie and Terry in the great movie.