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Remember: Visiting Bucky Boyle to see what's left

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Visiting Bucky Boyle to see what's left

It is one thing to sit back in front of a computer monitor and write about something that has happened, and it is something entirely different to go out and see what has happened; to feel it and absorb it into memory and experience.

On Sunday afternoon, I traveled down to the riverfront to see what last week's arson did to Bucky Boyle Park. When I got out of my rusty station wagon I didn't immediately see anything different. I did a quick scan with my eyes to find the half melted playground with caution tape wrapped around it as was described in the Morning Call. I saw nothing. Nothing at all. Then, I noticed the fence. The angle of the low afternoon sun had reflected off of the metal in such a fashion that I did not see it at first glance.

Walking towards the fence I recalled visiting Bucky Boyle over the summer and seeing the splash park and the playground full of kids with their parents sitting on the surrounding benches watching them play. Despite the grotesque act committed here last week, Bucky Boyle was still full of people. The playgrounds left unburnt were full of kids. Two elderly gentlemen in motorized chairs sat near a bench by the pavilion discussing what I assumed were older times and a young couple sat, just next to the acrid smelling pit where a playground used to be, giggling, combing each others hair and kissing each other quickly.

Standing in the stink of arson, I was so glad to see these people enjoying the park as if nothing had happened. As if there was not a giant cage of fence around a sour hole in the ground. The jackasses who did this left nothing more than a sore that will heal with new construction. No sore was left on the community and that is something to be thankful for. It speaks to the true character of the good left in Allentown. The good that kept the park full of people on a warm November afternoon that sat in a park like people have sat since 1910 to simply relax, enjoy and appreciate.

Before I left Bucky Boyle on Sunday I sat in the old pavilion overlooking the Lehigh River and stared across the water into the increasingly bare trees on the other side. A man in a red kayak rowed in circles across the watery reflections of the houses of Adams Island. Occasionally I could smell that acrid remnant of arson and never have I felt such a contrast in a city park.

If anything has surprised me about this act and the ensuing media coverage is the lack of it. Of the people I have spoken to about this, I have garnered the reaction more than once, that this is just what happens. That this is part of the way things work. A suburban friend of mine said her playground, deep into the suburban hills between Allentown and Macungie is burned down regularly.

That does not legitimize this act nor does it allow for people to accept it as a normal occurrence and shrug it off like a morning chill. This story at Bucky Boyle Park is something worth mentioning, not to glorify the act of violence committed, but to shine a light on the reaction of the community; the community that I witnessed on Sunday afternoon loving the park like they always have. That's the story that matters and is the story that will be left and retold for years, long after the playground is rebuilt and the sour smell has left the air.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Red-Hot American Justice said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

November 10, 2009 at 11:38 AM  
Anonymous Jos said...

I had no idea this happened. The media coverage must have been pretty bad, because I only live half an hour away. As someone working very hard to build a playground right now, this is so frustrating. It is a pointless act against the people and institutions who are trying to do something good for the community. If people want to make a statement and do something to really damage "the man," don't do it to one of the few things in a community that actually benefits everyone. So sad.

November 10, 2009 at 11:46 AM  

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