June 24, 1968

Speedy reminisces about the coal barges on the Delaware canal.

We were finishing dinner on the picnic table behind our house. Our lawn dissolved into the woods, which held in its bosom a minor Pennsylvania creek that grew from gully washes and insignificant streams and eventually made a small dent in the Delaware River not too far from the spot where, on average, the big river began to back up twice a day from the heaving oceans. My father was reminiscing about going to the canal when he was just small and watching barges loaded down with coal creep along at mule speed from the mines on their way to Bristol.

Unburdened, the barges floated lighter and higher on the way home. “I was happy for the mules heading upstream,” he said. The business of carrying light and heat captured in rocks of carbon down the canal was over by the time he started going to school. The extraction of ancient carbon wasn’t over—not by a long shot—but industry had found that it was more efficient to use combustion engines to bring the coal to market, instead of mules, men and gravity pulling barges over sleepy water.

Later, Izzy commits a hippie faux pas while riding with Juliana in a 1957 Dodge Regent to see the Fifth Dimension at the music circus outside of Lambertville.

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