Newark, New Jersey

 

Emma Wilcox, DAIRYLAND, Newark, New Jersey

Emma Wilcox, DAIRYLAND, Newark, New Jersey


Local boy at night we go to Dairyland.
He found just a hand,
a burnt hand on the tracks by the river.
Dairyland right at the mouth of the highway, behind those tracks.
Dairyland Open Late.


Dairyland is an ice cream parlor that was established in 1909. It had a few locations at various points along the border of Irvington and Newark, New Jersey. There is one store still open. There are a dozen flavors made in the back and sold in the front, and Dairyland stays open late to do the selling.


You can get a coffee, a donut, a root beer float . . . they also sell dry ice. If possible, the nearly centennial pink and white bricks could be next. Other than a towing company's storefront, Dairyland is the only business for a radius of easily seven blocks. In fact, Dairyland is the only visibly occupied structure in the area.


Freeman Avenue is the first cross street off Route 78. It is a dead end in both directions. A cairn of white tube socks sits at the entrance of a vacant factory, suggesting some kind of inorganic fecundity. A red neon sign on top of a distant building reads “Rust Company.” The “T” goes on occasionally.


The nine foot tall milk bottle on the roof of Dairyland is composed of cast iron. With scrap prices currently at 2¢ per pound, the antique sign would command enough cash to buy about 30 people a small sugar cone. This is the estimation of the night manager, a blond with small exit and entry scars on one ankle.


An ancient woman with erect carriage, wearing a faded housedress-is that a stock character?-disputes the size and density of her cone. She is insistent. The manager tells her, “you already got more than you paid for. I can't give you any more.”


The nearest legally occupied structures are the Seth Boyden Houses, a project named for the Newark inventor working in 1818. Boyden's inventions include the boxcar, malleable steel, and patent leather. He died penniless and nearly blind after spending his middle age growing fruit, to the exclusion of all other, and more profitable enterprises. He had become obsessed with increasing the size of common produce, and succeeded onc
e, with a 15-pound strawberry.


Newark, now known for its fertile incidences of auto theft, was once also the city where everything began: the light bulb, the phonograph, early forms of plastic, thousands of things that are now invisible in their ubiquity. The speed of their introduction into the world was not without consequence, however. Celluloid collars erupted spontaneously into flames, taking shirt and wearer along. Female factory workers painted watch faces with iridescent dye, repointing the paintbrush with their tongues several thousand times a day. Soon they began to come into darkened rooms, into the marital bed illuminated. These women glowed in the dark, their organs and circulatory systems radiant with cancer.


Dairyland is an EPA regulated facility, which means that the concentration of hazardous chemicals in, on or around its particular coordinates are high enough to warrant attention in a part of the world where until recently there were standing pools of mercury that small children would poke sticks into. Recent arrivals from the Seth Boyden Houses sign off on the paperwork for newly constructed homes. This paperwork voids their right to any future legal action on any matter, if they are found to be growing anything edible in their new backyards.
The good earth may not be, but the fields are lush with semiotics. The EPA maintains lists of toxic sites that are suspected to be so, in litigation, in remediation and even the remediated. In the latter instance, a site can have been scoured, burned, and buried, and yet it is never clean in the ones and zeros of the public record. In the former, the first duty of the government is to attempt to identify where toxins are, and give that area of concentration a name to distinguish it from all the other concentrations of toxins.


Most often, this identification name is simply the same as the name of the last or most clearly culpable business to occupy the site. Other times, the name of the site is nothing more than “Highway and Creek”, or “Foundation of Old Road”. Many major American cities are phasing out the use of General Delivery postal addresses, and rural route box numbers. The vagary of EPA site names can be cherished as an example of the concessions of the authorities to the complex nature of location.


An address is historical evidence documenting a road being renamed, obliterated and replaced. A giant factory disappears and leaves a break in the numbering of a street. The compound numbers in addresses that appear after its passing testify to its presence like a footprint does an animal. Streets get their names from what was once abundant near them. A politician wants to leave his mark and changes that name. Eventually what was abundant no longer is, be it industry or plant life. The name persists like a fossil, caressed by schoolchildren until it is unreadable and no one remembers what it was. A longtime owner of a business becomes entangled with his location until they are both called by the same name, both calcified in words.


The names on the lists are rife with abbreviations, with colloquial place names that have slipped in or will have to be awkwardly embraced in official documents because there is no other name left to identify a place. Outdated, superseded products live on in these lists, advertising the future that came and went.
By state, county, and town:


ASH PILE
METHODE
COLLOID LIQUID FOUNDATIONS AND STRUCTURES
POLYCHROME PROPERTIES
SELECTRO MALAGA RD
FINAL OIL IDEAL
VETERANS ADMINISTRATION*
OLD WHITE HORSE PIKE
OLD ETHYL FARM
JONES LIQUOR STORE IN CREAM RIDGE EDGE
IMPLEMENT
GRACE LUBRICANTS INVESTORS
ROLLER LEATHER
BOG'S DITCH
HOLIDAY CITY **
LILY DIVISION EQUITABLE
CARBONIC
CHROMIUM FOOT OF JERSEY AVE
LEMON RD INTERIM STORAGE
REFINING SCOTCH
FISH RD SITE ON FISH RD***
A ONE ALL IN ONE
DAIRYLAND, IRVINGTON NJ
Dairyland, where Newark ends and everything else begins.
At night we go to Dairyland

.Emma Wilcox
Newark, New Jersey
2004


Notes:
*Large public and private entities are often named on these lists, with no other specifications than a county. A specific plant, complex or address is not listed.
**A failed retirement home venture that construction was never finished.
***Repetitions, whether accidental or intentional are common.

Emma Wilcox, DAIRYLAND, Newark, New Jersey