Friday, November 4, 2011

Halloween in the 1800's in the 2000's: 2011's

2011_October_Beach_Halloween 105Image by Christopher Lotito via FlickrWaking up without an alarm clock, you get out of bed from under a heavy stack of blankets to a bitterly cold room, frost on the windows.  If you're lucky you share a bed with someone else so it's not so cold or at least a room with a couple other family members.  If you're amazingly lucky, someone has gotten up before you, gathered wood, kindling, and tinder, and stoked a fire in the hearth.  If it's dark, you might light a candle.  You'll probably need one anyway just to go use the bathroom, but don't think it's going to keep the experience from being an absolutely frigid one.  By the way, you'll probably be washing with cold water, unless you want to take the time to boil some over the fire.

This is life in the 1860's... it's also what 2 out of 3 Pequannock residents experienced on Monday, October 31st, 2011, Halloween, after a snowstorm knocked out their electricity the previous Saturday.  Many residents were left without water (as their wells were powered by electric pumps) and most effected were left without heat (as nearly all modern heating relies on electricity).  Some schools in the area remained closed for up to 3 days.

On Halloween, children gathered at the Municipal Building parking lot for a trunk or treat event (tailgating with candy essentially), while across the street other residents gathered at a warming station in Grace Chapel.  Sections of Pequannock damaged by Hurricane Irene in August were especially hard hit by the snowstorm, as residents may have lost or misplaced emergency supplies at that time and many homes still do not have insulation or sheet-rock up on the walls.  In the Village area of the township, many streets were dark, a disappointment as so many homeowners had hoped to host trick-or-treaters to spite Irene, but were forced to abandon party plans due to the safety issues caused by downed wires and damaged tree limbs.

Through it all though, a new quality, or rather, one that's lain blessedly dormant has begun to emerge: toughness.  We are not now suburbanites without electricity, without cable, without phone; we are not defined by what we lack, but by what preserves: family, ourselves, and the homes we have made here.

We in Pequannock are the thing that Irene could not wash away; we are what the snow could not bend and break beneath its cold, wet, weight.  If there is flooding, we get in a boat, if there is cold we light a fire, if storms blot out the sun, we will live and dream and rebuild in the shade.  I know this because I was there with all of you, the world knows this because I have the photos of children in Halloween costumes frolicking in the snow to prove it.  We are Pequannock, as we have been for hundreds of years, as we will be now and in the future.

Christopher Lotito is a member of the Pequannock EnvironmentalHistoric District, and Flood Control Advisory Commissions as well as the author of  "Torrent," a book about flooding in the region.  Lotito's personal mission is to reduce new taxes, drastically reduce flooding, and preserve more green spaces for our children.  Christopher Lotito Profile

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