Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Cricket in Carteret?!?

If you said "cricket" when I was growing up, I'd assume you meant the bugs that made a noise in our basement so annoying, that at times I found myself getting out of bed just to go downstairs and squash them to end their continuous chirping.  Then there were my high school years, when I worked at a pet shop and occasionally had to scoop live crickets into plastic bags for customers who'd buy them to feed their lizards, but that's probably food for another blog entry.

Last week, I headed back to my hometown of Port Reading, New Jersey.  To do this, I drove through the town of Carteret.  The two towns rub up against each other; so much so, that the only way you know that you've left one town and entered the other is that the street signs have changed from white concrete pillars to metal poles.  I haven't "lived" in Port Reading since 1998, but I had heard about the influx of immigrants from India and Pakistan.

That being said, nothing prepared me for what I saw as I drove the back roads of Carteret.  At a neighborhood park, a group of kids playing the game of Cricket.  Well, not really playing a "game".  They were doing with a wicket and ball what we used to do with a bat, baseball, and gloves: messing around, playing.  But still, Cricket in "Kotterett" (as we pronounced it)?

This is your typical neighborhood park, a high fence surrounding an oblong shaped piece of property.  Within the fence, a swing set and sliding board that are in desperate need of a paintjob.  A piece of blacktop with two basketball nets on either side (just rims; no net).  I remember playing a street hockey game there one night, one winter, under one streetlight.  It was so dark that we could barely see the ball.  The park is still there, only now it's home to cricket.  I have nothing against it; if I wasn't running late I probably would have stopped and watched.

To use the cliché, "If you would've told me this ... years ago, I'd have said you were nuts", doesn't do my shock justice.  Who says you can't go home?  I do.


Unknown said...

At least your park is still there, Padre. In my old neighborhood in Detroit, the houses are gone in addition to the parks. In fact, the old neighborhood is pretty much an overgrown park now.

Barb Szyszkiewicz said...

Port Reading is your hometown? My husband is from Carteret (right near the high school) of his best friends, who grew up in Port Reading, is now a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal.
My in-laws still live in Carteret.
It was a little weird when the Acme by the Hess refinery turned into a ???mosque? temple? gathering hall??? We're usually driving by late at night, on our way home, toward exit 10, and we never can figure out what it is!