A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Beach Volleyball

Kudos to Aberdeen Township for adding a new beach volleyball court to the Aberdeen Veterans Memorial Park at Cliffwood Beach. The township has to do a bit of additional work to deal with some swampy terrain along the edge of the sand pit, but otherwise it looks good to go.

Life Is Enmeshed With the Seashore in Cliffwood Beach

I never cease to wonder at how our lives on the Bayshore are so intertwined with the sea around us. One of my favorite walks involves the sense of a great vista that envelopes me as I walk along Woodcrest Drive at North Concourse, especially at night. The Raritan Bay and Keyport Harbor peak out between and over homes, through trees, past yard furniture and bird baths, and over fences and shrubs. The impression only comes with walking. A crisp, still winter night with harbor lights glimmering from shore to shore is certainly best, but anytime is a treat.

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Low Tide at Cliffwood Beach - End of May 2009

I went for a walk near dusk on Sunday. I took some photographs of low tide at Cliffwood Beach.

While I was out, I caught a few shots of some neighborhood pals goofing around along the rocky shore exposed at low tide below the Cliffwood Beach seawall, and then again as they walked home. It certainly must be fun to live so close to nature's playground.

Massanutten Holiday

My step-mom recently gifted us her deed to an Eagle Trace timeshare at Massanutten Resort in McGaheysville, Virginia. My wife, daughter, and I just returned from a restful week's stay at the resort. It rained on and off towards the end of the week, but we managed to squeeze in some swimming, tennis, and miniature golf whenever the weather cleared.

From Aberdeen, the trip is about 5-6 hours. We took the GSP to I-287 to I-78, which we followed to Harrisburg, PA, where we turned south on I-81 to Harrisonburg, Virginia.

While we were there we upgraded our timeshare to a 2 bedroom Week 5 (late January early February) condominium at the new Woodstone at Massanutten facility. This gives us prime access during the ski season at Massanutten. We're not big skiers, so we'll probably split our unit and rent half and exchange the other half using RCI.

The heavily wooded mountain has loads of deer, chipmunks, and woodchucks. They say there are bears, too, but we fortunately didn't run into any. A couple of times I saw what appears to have been a Northern Harrier flying low through the trees near our condo.

We drove to the beautiful overlook by following Del Webb to the top of the mountain. You can park your car at the top and take one of two marked trails. You'll want to have good hiking shoes and bottles of water if you plan to hike the 4 hours to the ski area and back. We didn't have the chance to make the hike; the vista on the left is from another person's stay in 2004.

My daughter and I became acquainted with some interesting microbrews during our stay. On Saturday there was a beer and wine tasting event at the ski lodge. Then on Thursday there was a Beer Tasting Dinner at the conference center. Between times, the three of us visited the well-stocked and adroitly tended bar at the Fareways Restaurant off Del Webb Drive. Among our favorites were Starr Hill Brewery's Jomo Lager (Charlottesville) and Rogue Dead Guy Ale (Oregon). We skipped the Wine Tasting Dinner and the Murder Mystery Dinner because the dinners were rather exclusively priced and those meals included foods that members of the family were allergic to.

If you're interested in spending a free weekend at the resort, send me an email and I can sign you up. You'll get a $100 VISA gift card. You'll have to let a salesperson give you a personal tour so they can promote their timeshares, but you'll have the rest of the weekend to enjoy the resort. You'll have free lodging and use of the gym and pools but will have to pay for things like horseback riding, go karts, miniature golf, a huge indoor/outdoor water park, tubing, and a world-class spa. If you're unfamiliar with timeshares, they'll be more than happy to explain the pros and cons.

Caveat emptor: Massanutten sales staff are very good at selling their properties, so buyer beware. My neighbor at Eagle Trace this week was visiting as a guest of an owner and ended up buying a timeshare at the Summit. The Timeshare Users Group can give you some independent information on sales practices and will try their best to dampen your enthusiasm for buying a timeshare from the resort. I find they tend to be overly zealous against the sales process. I recommend that you do some research before you go and decide for yourself.

Visitors check in at Woodstone Center off Resort Drive. Woodstone at Massanutten is south and east of Resort Drive, just east of the center. Eagle Trace and the Summit are accessed by taking Massanutten Drive, just west of the center and north. (You'll want to use directions from the website because GPS devices can lead you astray. There is also a resort map online.)

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Matawan NJ Videos - May 2009

Mr Libro has a detailed ten-part video in Spanish on YouTube on how to get to Matawan from points north on the train. The host starts out in Union City, goes to Newark Penn Station, takes the train to Matawan and returns north.

Video 4 below shows him on Track 3 at Newark Penn Station, where he explains how to catch a train to Matawan.

Video 8 below shows him on the train as it crosses the Raritan River and enters South Amboy.

Below is a video showing Kyle Robinson of Matawan winning in 110 m high hurdles at Shore Conference Championships. Impressive.

Relay for Life 2009

The American Cancer Society will hold this year's Relay for Life fundraising event at Matawan Regional High School on 13-14 June 2009, according to the Independent. Join the fight against cancer by supporting Relay for Life.

Check out the MRHS event's dedicated website here.

New Freehold Borough Police Captain Raised in Matawan

When Glenn Roberts was promoted to captain in the Freehold Borough Police Department earlier this month, Roberts told a News Transcript interviewer how Freehold reminds him of his days growing up in Matawan.

"I grew up in Matawan, which is a small town like Freehold Borough. ... Everyone knew everyone. We would stop and talk to the shop owners all the time. When I came to Freehold as a teenager to hang out with my friends, it reminded me of the beautiful older homes on Main Street in Matawan. Coming to Freehold was like being home," he said.

Roberts said he enjoyed going on foot patrol and talking to business owners.

"It just reminded me of growing up," he said. . . .

As captain, Roberts will direct police operations and Internal Affairs. He is also in charge of vehicles, building maintenance, technology and the police dispatchers, as well as some in-service training, records and the state computer systems.

Friday, May 29, 2009

News Updates As of 28 May 2009

  • Cliffwood Beach man loses firefighter friend to cancer, according to MyCentralJersey.
  • Cliffwood Beach man kicked and stomped in Woodbridge, again per MyCentralJersey.
  • Aberdeen Matawan Regional School District could gain an estimated $160,000 towards energy efficiency if the Green Schools initiative passes the Congress, per the Independent.
  • Grounds Keeper Inc, 798 Route 34, Matawan, will offer a seminar on aquatic plants on 30 May 2009 at 11 am, according to the Sentinel.
  • Pop Warner tryouts for football and cheerleading will be held at the Matawan Regional High School gym on 20 June 2009 from 9am to noon, per the Asbury Park Press.
  • MRHS students received awards at the Annual Spring Luncheon of the Art Society of Monmouth County on 21 May 2009 at Shore Casino on the waterfront in Atlantic Highlands, per the Atlantic Highlands Herald.
  • Matawan man charged with drug possession in Sparta, per the Daily Record's Police Blotter.
  • Brookdale's softball team came in sixth place in the NJCAA Division III Women's Fastpitch National Championship. Matawan's Danielle Davenport hit .429, according to the News Transcript.
  • 27 statewide finalists will compete at Rock'n Music Idol 2009 at the VFW Hall in Cliffwood Beach on 7 June, per MyCentralJersey.
  • The Monmouth-Ocean-Middlesex commuter line concept has devolved to a MOM Lite series of proposals that at long last do not include a Matawan option, according to APP. NJ Transit is encouraging the counties to take smaller steps if they want to get anywhere. It doesn't exactly surprise me that NJ Transit sees the public as a bunch of lobsters that need their pot to be heated slowly and steadily.
  • The mystery meet mentioned in my News Update of 24 May was the Central Jersey, Group 2 meet at Monmouth Regional in Tinton Falls, per NJ.com.

    Senior Kyle Robinson amassed 36 points and propelled Matawan to its first sectional title since it won back-to-back titles in 1994-95, as Matawan easily outdistanced nemesis Somerville, 125-60, at the Central Jersey, Group 2 meet at Monmouth Regional in Tinton Falls.

    Robinson won the 110 high hurdles in 14.29 and the long jump at 21-11¾. He was runner-up to Dave Brown of Ewing in the 400 hurdles (55.81 to 57.40) and also second in the high jump at 6-0 behind Alex Smith of Rumson at 6-2.

    Matawan won three other events. Johnathan Bartlett broke a meet record in the pole vault at 14-7, Derek Garland won the shot put at 48-3½ and Ian Carter the discus at 136-10.

    ``The big thing was Kyle staying consistent in the hurdles," coach Sam Turner said. ``Somerville has been a great program and we've been second to them too many times. I'll never forget 2003 when they beat us, 114-113. We had Erison Hurtault, who is now an Olympian, with four wins in that meet and still lost.’’

    The Asbury Park Press also covered the event in detail.

Fresh Air Fund

I've been asked to say a kind word about The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency, which has provided free summer vacations to more than 1.7 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. Nearly 10,000 New York City children enjoy free Fresh Air Fund programs annually. In 2008, close to 5,000 children visited volunteer host families in suburbs and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada. 3,000 children also attended five Fresh Air camps on a 2,300-acre site in Fishkill, New York. The Fund’s year-round camping program serves an additional 2,000 young people each year.

Right now any gift you make to The Fresh Air Fund will be matched dollar for dollar by a group of generous donors! If you can give $25 that means $50 for inner-city children. $50 becomes $100!

But you must make your donation by June 30th to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I Section Pedestrians Seek Safe Passage

The death of Philip Shiffman while crossing Lloyd Road after synagogue earlier this month is prompting calls for a crosswalk so I Section residents can make their way more safely to and from worship services at Young Israel of Aberdeen. Both drivers and pedestrians are asked to be extra vigilant throughout the particularly busy section of Lloyd Road between Church Street and Route 34.

The Independent's article was also carried on Jewish Breaking News. Original coverage of the 1 May event was covered by the Asbury Park Press. Below is a satellite map of the area involved.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

News Updates As of 24 May 2009

  • Matawan Regional High School boys track cleaned up in Group 2 competition, defeating their nearest rival, Somerville, 125-60. Unfortunately, NJ.com doesn't provide a venue or date for the event. MRHS first place winners included Kyle Robinson in 110 m hurdles and long jump; Derek Garland in shot put; Ian Carter in discus; and Johnathan Bartlett in a meet record pole vault.
  • Matawan Borough property tax assessments are unfairly distributed, according to a couple of residents quoted in Yeshiva World. Others suggest that the assessment was long overdue and they were underpaying.
  • The cost of closing Fort Monmouth and relocating its component parts has nearly doubled recently, according to Newsday. For example, the cost of moving a school has increased from $20 million to $200 million.
  • A driver may have fallen asleep at the wheel near mile marker 120 on the Garden State Parkway last week, according to the Asbury Park Press.
  • Matawan Advocate briefed its readers on the then-upcoming Matawan Borough council meeting on 19 May 2009. A resolution to allow fireworks on the 4th of July caught my eye. I'm not sure how a local community can make possession of fireworks legal for one day when the day before the fireworks were surely possessed illegally. Seems to me it encourages scofflaws. Cliffwood Beach becomes a war zone on the 4th. I don't know the outcome of the Matawan proposition, but I certainly hope Aberdeen doesn't try to follow suit with such a resolution.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Photo Gallery at Aberdeen Township Website

Aberdeen Township has a very nice photo collection at their website. (I can't help but notice that the page is called "Life in Aberdeen Township.") Below are some of the interesting venues that are featured. You'll have to flip through to see all of the people who appear in pics of things like Aberdeen Day, foot races, rescue squad actions, and sporting events.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Dredge Report

The Bayshore Regional Watershed Council is working with the county planning board and local non-governmental organizations to create a Dredged Material Management Plan (DMMP) for the Bayshore. Nice in principal, but it has a major NIMBY concern for Aberdeen residents.

According to The Independent, the Cliffwood Beach leaf composting facility is considered a "historic dredged material disposal site." The dredging plan says Cliffwood Beach "offers an opportunity to blend dredged material with leaf compost . . . ," adding that the composting site's proximity to Matawan Creek and Raritan Bay "provides opportunities for barge transport. . ."

In other words, while other Bayshore communities are getting deeper, safer channels for their boats, the county will be dumping dredging wastes into the compost materials that we Aberdeen Township residents put into our garden beds. What a deal.

What's with the Bayshore Independent not making that issue a bit clearer?

Aberdeen Yard Sale 7 June 2009

The annual Aberdeen Garage Sale will take place throughout Aberdeen Township from 9 am to 4 pm on 7 June 2009. Those interested in holding a garage sale can register online for free and their address will be flagged on an interactive community map. (If you don't have a garage, feel free to have a yard sale. I doubt anyone will mind.) And if you want to shop the sales, you can use the site to search for sales close to you and/or scan the individual listings to see what each household intends to sell.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Coffee House for Mission Matawan

It's getting to be time once again for Mission Matawan, a program of the First Presbyterian Church of Matawan that has been helping our neighbors in need since 2003. The build up to the late June event always involves a fundraiser. This year, with the help of Starbucks, Mission Matawan will be hosting a coffee house event in the church's fellowship hall on Friday 22 May 2009 at 7:30 pm. There will be singers, musicians, clowns, comics, and poets to entertain you. And there will be coffee and snacks.

The church is located off Route 34 at Franklin Street in Matawan. The church can be reached at 732-566-2663 or june@fpc-matawan.org

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Reflections Near the PATH Station

I caught an interesting photograph of a building near the World Trade Center PATH entrance on Friday. As the day turned towards evening, the sun reflected just right off the mirrored front of the building and reflected nearby buildings, including the Woolworth, across its face. Pretty good for a cell phone shot.

What to Do This Summer? Amusement Parks

When you are looking for something to do this summer, keep the local and regional amusement parks in mind.
  • Six Flags Great Adventure has updated its Medusa roller coaster over the winter, according to the Asbury Park Press. It is now called Bizarro, after the Superman character. Check out some of the hype (but not much of the ride) at See The Ride. Still time to get your season pass.
  • Keansburg Amusement Park and Runaway Rapids are just down the road. You could try the Cliff Hanger ride. Thrill ride aficionados aren't impressed, but it is only a small park. I've included some videos of the ride below. I think only the first video is from Keansburg, but they're all the same ride.

  • If you have a hankering to go to Nathan's in Brooklyn, you can always stop by the Cyclone at Astroland in Coney Island, New York. City not your style? Head west towards Allentown, Pennsylvania and see Dorney Park and the Crayola Factory. Or just west of Trenton, the little ones will enjoy a lazy ride on an innertube and all sorts of water fun at Sesame Place.
  • I'd recommend that you get a hotel and stay the night if you want to visit Hershey Park. Take advantage of the Preview Plan: If you get to the hotel at say 4pm, you can clean up after a long ride in the car, have dinner, then hit the park around 7:30 pm that same evening. Admission will be free if you buy a regular full admission ticket that evening for the next day.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

NJ Transit Favors Ads Over Customers at Newark Penn Station

New Jersey Transit runs ads on their display monitors on the tracks at Newark Penn Station. Unfortunately, those monitors are also supposed to tell you which train is next to arrive or currently in the station, as well as provide a list of the train's scheduled stops and final destination. It does no good if, as in the picture to the left, the train arrives and the ad has been occupying the screen for the past three minutes.

You see, the ads are displayed on the schedule screens between trains, which is fine up to a point, but the computers are slow and can't clear the ads fast enough, and people need train information during rush hour more than they need something to buy.

In this instance, an Amtrak train had been in the station on Track 4 circa 6:48 pm. The whitish display of the Amtrak schedule was on the monitor while the train was in the station. When the Amtrak train left, an ad appeared on the screen and stayed until the 6:53 pm Jersey Avenue train started to pull into the station. The monitor sluggishly changes displays, line by line, probably for thirty seconds but it seems like hours.

The picture above shows the 6:53 pm train in the station, doors about to open, and the display with the red Jersey Avenue schedule is only halfway formed -- across the top half of the screen. The part of the screen that would tell riders whether the train stops at their particular stop is covered by the ad across the bottom half of the screen.

This is the same problem commuters had with these displays several months ago, when NJ Transit tried instituting this advertising scheme the first time. It seems they gave a polite pause and launched the same program without revisions.

No doubt NJ Transit needs the ad revenue, and I honestly don't begrudge them, but they need to think of their customers first. And that's something, I'm sorry to say, NJ Transit employees haven't been doing much of lately. Customer care at trackside is absolutely abysmal. I helped two customers today after they were ignored my conductors. One was an Amtrak employee, to be sure, but I have to say that train conductors need some heavy training on how to interact courteously with their riders.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Court Jester for Lunch on Mother's Day

Sunday was a beautiful day here. We took it slow and relaxed. We started out at Starbucks in Matawan, where my daughter and I gave my wife a copy of The Hemingses of Monticello, by Annette Gordon Reed for Mother's Day. She's been reading American Sphinx by Joseph Ellis, so the Hemmings book seemed a logical next step from that study of Jefferson. We followed up with lunch at Court Jester in Aberdeen. The girls had burgers and I had a salad. Luckily the lawn mower is out of commission, so when we got home the relaxation continued. I really wanted to mow, but the dandelions will just have to wait a few days, dear.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Pictures of the Freneau Gravesite and House

As a follow up to my blog article about Philip Freneau, my daughter and I took a ride over to Poet Drive and walked through the graveyard and saw what used to be his house across the street. My daughter and a classmate created a video tour of the house and graveyard a few years ago as part of a history class assignment at Matawan Regional High School. Below are some of the pictures I took yesterday.

The graveyard is accessed by a brick staircase that takes you up to high ground, where a black metal fence surrounds a large grassy lot. A tree has been recently cut down and the stump ground to a pulp. The grave itself is in a shady corner of the lot covered by trees, which explains why so many pictures of the grave are dark.

The Freneau house is right across the beautifully manicured, tree-lined street. The house is brightly decorated in bunting with patriotic colors and adorned with an Uncle Sam yard ornament and a colorful mailbox. A flowering tree in front of the house is in full bloom. The road seems to cut deep into a hill that would have naturally sloped down from the gravesite to the house. Poet Drive has the shape of a noose, with the house just inside the knot and the gravesite just outside the loop to the right.

A local group ought to consider placing a statue of Freneau on the ample land available in the graveyard. It would certainly become one more in a long list of must-see historic sites in the area and would attract a moderate flow of tourists as well as create an atmosphere conducive to the bed and breakfast crowd.

To get to Poet Drive, take Main Street (Route 79) through Matawan towards Marlboro. Not far beyond Wilson Avenue and Mill Road and before Lloyd Road you'll find Poet Drive on your left. (see map at bottom)

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Serious Collision Analysis Response Team (SCART)

The Monmouth County Serious Collision Analysis Response Team (SCART) participated in the analysis a recent pedestrian strike in Aberdeen that resulted in the death of a 75 year old man. The victim was struck by a vehicle on 1 May 2009 as he crossed Lloyd Road in the I Section of Strathmore, according to the Asbury Park Press.

Excluding perfunctory mentions in official press releases announcing a role for SCART in various criminal investigations, the county's Major Crimes Bureau web page provides the only mention of SCART that could be considered a formal description. The bureau says its Homicide Unit works closely with SCART, adding

This is a team of highly trained collision reconstruction specialists drawn from police departments throughout Monmouth County. It is supervised by several police chiefs. This regionalized investigative team analyzes traffic collisions utilizing state-of-the-art sophisticated equipment.

SCART members offer training in this sophisticated equipment through Rutgers University.

Considering the visibility of SCART in the community, the county should consider dedicating a web page to the team to showcase its work. Even if it is "regionalized" and not a county entity, the county website is the logical place to feature the team.

Previous investigations involving SCART in Aberdeen or Matawan include another fatality on Lloyd Road, this one at Nutmeg Road on 11 March 2007; charges of vehicular homicide were filed, according to the Independent. SCART was also involved in the investigation of a head on collision that killed an Old Bridge taxi driver on High Street in Matawan on 17 October 2004, as reported in the Suburban. Police said the incident was caused by a drunk driver who struck the taxi.

Special Education Week, 11-17 May 2009

Parents of Special People (POSP) will host a dedicated walk-through of an art exhibit featuring the works of Special Education K-12 students from the Aberdeen-Matawan School District at the Aberdeen Township municipal building from 5-7 pm on Monday 11 May 2009. The exhibit is part of Special Education Week, which runs 11 to 17 May 2009. Light refreshments will be served at what is being called the "Personal Best Gallery Walk". (APP)

In his annual message back in January, Mayor David Sobel reflected on the establishment in 2008 of a week in May dedicated to Special Education. The Mayor said,"One notable special event in 2008 was the declaration of Special Education week in May. Beautiful and wonderful artwork created by children with special needs decorated the lobby of town hall for weeks, an event we hope to repeat in the coming years."

The mayor's proclamation of last year's Special Education Week appears in the 6 May 2008 township council minutes

May 11 through May 17, 2008
WHEREAS, four hundred and eighty-five (485) children receive special education and related services in the Matawan Aberdeen Regional School District; and
WHEREAS, dozens of parents, teachers, child study team members and school administrators give generously of their time and energy to support the learning needs of special education students; and
WHEREAS, since 1985 the New Jersey School Boards Association has sponsored Special Education Week in New Jersey; and
WHEREAS, the Matawan Aberdeen Regional School District has the ability to make major contributions to these exceptional persons by helping them grow and learn to participate as citizens in our community and as members of society.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DAVID G. SOBEL, MAYOR OF THE TOWNSHIP OF ABERDEEN, do hereby proclaim, on behalf of the Township Council, the week of May 11 through May 17, 2008, as Special Education Week in Aberdeen and call upon all citizens to recognize the achievements of our district's special education students and the outstanding contributions made by educators, school board members, administrators and parents toward quality education for the exceptional students of our district.
Councilman Perry made a motion to add Resolution No. 2008-65 and Resolution No. 2008-66 to tonight’s consent agenda. Seconded by Councilman Vinci.
Ayes: Councilmember Gallo, Perry, Vinci, Deputy Mayor Gumbs and Mayor Sobel
Nays: None
Abstain: None

A few technical matters:
  1. A mayoral proclamation for annual Special Education Week events in perpetuity seems warranted. By my reading of it, the 2008 proclamation covered only last year's event. I could find no posted proclamation regarding this year.
  2. The township provides a link on its website's Community page to the Special Education Parent Advisory and Support Group. This link is directed to a private POSP blog with restricted access. The general public requires permission from the blog's owner to view its contents. I can certainly understand the need for privacy if this blog serves as a support mechanism for the parents of special people. But what is a Community page? Seems to me the blog should either be made accessible to the public or not be posted as if it were a link of general interest to the community.
  3. Monday's tour and the art exhibit schedule should appear on the township calendar for public information purposes. The Asbury Park Press article makes reference only to the "municipal building" but leaves it to readers to discern whether Aberdeen or Matawan might be hosting. Chances are some folks won't be able to find the event. The Press also fails to mention that it is an art show, something I had to discern from the mayor's annual message.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Aberdeen and 9/11

It's been nearly eight years since September 11th, 2001, the day that changed our lives forever. For those of us living on the bayshore, the World Trade Center attacks were a personal thing. Especially so for those who worked downtown or lost loved ones.

What was on television for most of America was happening in living color just down the road for Jersey Shore residents. People in Aberdeen could walk to the beach and actually see the World Trade Center towers burning about 20 miles away across the Raritan Bay in downtown Manhattan.

Many went to volunteer or give blood. Most worried about what was next. All attempted to account for loved ones and were generally panicked until they'd gathered the spouse and children close and were safely huddled in the homestead.

From her vantage point at Matawan Avenue Middle School, my daughter relates that on 9/11, her classmates were pulled from class one by one by their parents, leaving those remaining to wonder what terrible thing was happening. The teachers offered no explanation, preferring to leave it to parents to explain the inexplicable.

Many of my daughter's intramural soccer matches had to be canceled through the end of the season because so many of the girls on local teams were attending funerals for parents, aunts, or uncles who died in the attacks.

I had commuted to work on the North Jersey Coast train with many of the men and women who died that day. When the survivors returned to work, the train cars were eerily vacant.

My commute had involved daily rides through the World Trade Center on the PATH train to a job only a half dozen blocks away. Fortunately for me I hadn't left for work yet on that fateful day, so I avoided the shock of seeing Armageddon out the windows of my 25th floor office. I also escaped the trek on foot to Brooklyn that my workmates had to endure to flee the dust plume and feared additional attacks.

For weeks after the attacks, I had to work in Newark because I couldn't get into the city. For months the smoke from Ground Zero made a distinctive smell in the air, a grim reminder of what had happened just down the way. The jagged remains of the Twin Towers stood vigil down Church Street just south of Vesey Street. I meticulously avoided points south of Chambers Street for several years except for 9/11 remembrance events.

When I returned to the office, I had to ride the subway downtown from Penn Station. That first day on the subway was nerve-wracking. Everyone on the train was a potential terrorist, especially those who looked "foreign." You had to let go of the fear or go mad.

I lost workmates on 9/11. My neighbor's husband escaped the Towers and returned safely to his wife. A colleague, fleeing her office, tried to return to her desk to retrieve a forgotten purse and found that a plane wheel had crashed through the ceiling, leaving nothing of her desk but a gaping hole all the way to the ground. A friend transferred to another city on September 10th and was on the road the day her building was destroyed.

My daughter and I had flown out of Newark on a United flight to San Francisco only a few weeks earlier.

Friends volunteered at Ground Zero.

Many young people were inspired to become first responders or work for the intelligence community.

We watched coverage of unfolding events all day, then tuned in the evening news looking for an explanation of what we'd seen. Life was forever altered was the only answer.

Below is a memorial to those who worked the pile at the World Trade Center site, written and performed by Mary Chapin Carpenter. The song has always been a comfort to me. It confesses to the strength of our society, that we come together in times of need for the common good, and that our way of life is resilient, capable of going on after even the greatest of traumas, and finds its balance by looking to the familiar.