2009-01-02 / Travel

On the Erie Canal

Part 6: Newark and the Pump- A- Head Dumb Head
By Warner M. Montgomery warner@thecolumbiastar.com

Captain John moored the Fantessy in front of two yachts that were making the circuit from Miami to Chicago and back, a year's journey. Captain John moored the Fantessy in front of two yachts that were making the circuit from Miami to Chicago and back, a year's journey. The Fantessy Four ( John, Janice, Linda, and I) pulled out of Lyons, brilliantly handled the next three locks - E27, E28A, and E28B - and docked at Newark, NY. It was 5:30 pm, and we were hungry.

Newark was originally called Miller's Basin after the man who built that section of the Erie Canal, then Lockville when the lock was constructed, and finally in 1853 it became the Village of Newark in the Town of Arcadia in Wayne County.

Since 1900, the village population has slowly grown from 4,500 to 9,700. The most famous people to come out of Newark have been Peter Hannan, creator of the animated TV series CatDog; Doug Kent, the 2007 Bowler of the Year; and Paul Swain who left to become a Roman Catholic bishop.

We tied up at the village dock which promised "Free Showers and Toilets," battened down the hatches and walked across the bridge into town. Linda hoped to find a nice restaurant where we could toast our upcoming 17th wedding anniversary with a good New York wine.

We were shocked to find Bubba soft drinks in New York. They must be copying things Southern. We were shocked to find Bubba soft drinks in New York. They must be copying things Southern. Our search ended at Gordie's Bar where we settled for mugs of Genesee Beer amidst a klatsch of blue collar drunks. Janice traded dirty jokes with them until Gordie himself decided it was getting too rough and intervened, "These here folks is visitors. You guys settle down and behave yourselves."

We adjourned back to our boat where the ladies prepared a nice meal. Over a nice bottle of Belhurst Cabernet Franc (a winery on Lake Seneca we would visit later), the four of us decided we would write Barack Obama a letter. We wanted to suggest major policy directions for his administration:

1. Energy independence.

2. Repair our reputation in the world.

3. Rebuild our country's infrastructure.

Captain John was especially interested in #1 since he was in the process of building an energy- neutral, very green farm. Even then, his windmill was feeding electricity back into the New York grid.

The Newark marina promised free showers and toilets. They didn't tell us the waste dump took free tokens not quarters. The Newark marina promised free showers and toilets. They didn't tell us the waste dump took free tokens not quarters. Linda and I pushed for #2 in that we had seen America's reputation fall during the Bush years. In our travels through Europe, Asia, and Africa, we have felt the distrust and dislike of George W eat away at America's good image.

Janice was more pragmatic. "The roads, bridges, dams, and railroads are falling apart while we dump our tax money in Iraq and other stupid places. Fix'm, I say."

The next morning, we took advantage of the free shower and toilet, then walked to the nearby Quality Hotel for breakfast. The waitress was a very nice Thai lady who had married an American soldier, moved to his hometown of Newark, divorced him, and raised a daughter who was now in college. She confessed all this after I spoke to her in Thai. (I served in the Peace Corps in Thailand in the early 1960s.)

Back at the dock I attempted to help Captain John pump out our sewage tank but jammed the Pump- A- Head. I explained our plight to the dockmaster. He opened the machine, turned a few knobs, and out came the quarters I had put in. He should have said, "It takes tokens, Dumb Head, not quarters," but he just gave me three tokens and walked away. John pumped out our waste, and we left Newark at 10 am.

Once the quarters were removed from the Pump- A- Head, Captain John, under annoying supervision from Linda, was able to remove our waste. Janice, sitting on top, thought the whole thing was very funny. Once the quarters were removed from the Pump- A- Head, Captain John, under annoying supervision from Linda, was able to remove our waste. Janice, sitting on top, thought the whole thing was very funny.

Return to top