Jan 23, 2009

Apologies & the Beginning?

I must apologize for DHTWRITW's recent silence -- all my fault, young Ms. Violet has been diligently documenting the paper mache'd rock collection that is Durham's roads. I, however, have been too busy with what some people call "my real job" (sheesh, some people, don't they read my blog???) to post regularly.

I must, though -- however briefly, share some good news. Last night as I made my way home through a relatively mild evening in our fair city with my head full of banjo blues courtesy Otis Taylor and friends (and some killer organization called Duke Performs or something...) and as I pass an unusually dusty (even for Durham) street, I happened to look down the way and see much to my surprise a real live (so to speak) street sweeper!! Wow! I didn't know Durham had those; I mean -- normally the streets are covered with sand and gravel and newspapers from the 1800s (see paper mache above). But there, last night, in the relatively warm hours of midnightish -- I saw a street sweeper. I'm not going to prevaricate and say that I didn't almost weep -- my friends, I almost wept.

Could it be?? dare we dream? that DHTWRITW is already having a positive impact on the decrepit and neglected infrastructure of sweet Durham, North Carolina?

Friends, it is hard to believe but not improbable. At any rate, clearly persistence is the watchword of the day, and in light of that watchword, I bid you goodbye for now and give you this fine Violet Rumble photograph.


happy travels,
Ken & Violet


Chris Vitiello said...

some call them potholes, i call them "tire kisses," but what's a woman to do?

Joseph said...

Are you sure the truck wasn't from the Hillsborough fleet? Sometimes these trucks stray through a broken fence in Hillsborough and wander down Rte. 70. Then the lights of downtown Durham confuse them, and the throng and fanfare of the nightlife.

Ken Rumble said...

What I call them, Chris, has little to do with kisses.

And Joe, of course, I should've immediately recognized the way they leaned left but in a comfortable sort of way -- good country street-sweepers out there in Hillsborough. Thanks for setting me straight.


Kinohi Nishikawa said...

Perhaps not in "the world," but Durham does have its pothole issues. Looking forward to future posts.

curveship said...

I see you've uncovered evidence of the legend of Rodney Duke. Rodney was the third of the Duke brothers, but he gets only a brief mention in the official histories. While his brothers were expanding the tobacco business and building their financial empire, Rodney took a different route, literally. He liked roads. Asphalt, macadam, even gravel, it didn't matter, he became an expert in them all. Back in the teens and 20s, when his brothers, Buchanan, Watts and co. were constructing the town, Rodney was a regular sight atop his road machine, laying the finest surfaces in the South. Riding into town, visitors were startled by the sudden silence of their tires, Rodney's wonderful lanes quieting the buzz just as the tobacco scents drifting from the downtown factories calmed their nerves and left them reflective, open.

Unfortunately, the same family money that allowed Rodney to spend such lavish attention on our roads proved to be those same roads' undoing. Even though he didn't further the business like his brothers, his position in the family gave him a certain share of the proceeds, and it was estimated that at the time of his death his wealth should have been well into the millions. "Should have been" because when he died -- childless, wifeless, from causes that have since been lost -- no trace of the money could be found. All that was left was his one sentence will: "I leave all my wealth to the roads of Durham."

A legend grew in the Durham Roads department: Rodney had buried his great fortune somewhere beneath his beloved roads. Everyone seemed to know someone who knew someone who swears to have seen Rodney kneeling beside his puffing road machine while placing a tin box deep into the belly of the soft new asphalt.

You can guess what happened next. Hushed rumors were circulated: Green and Carolina. No! Washington and Geer! A pact grew between the workmen: any crew which happened to find the fortune would stay quiet and keep it for themselves. At first, crews hoped to stumble upon the treasure in their regular tasks, but soon the hunt became a pursuit of its own. In the spare hours between work orders, crews would head out to the latest favored spot, drop a shaft as deep into the asphalt as time would permit, then patch it hastily before returning to work.

Some say the fortune has already been found. Back in the 40s, an entire road crew disappeared, their machine found abandoned beside a new dug hole, their helmets and badges thrown around the area. It's said that they knew they could never enjoy the wealth in this town without attracting suspicion, so they split it right there in the road and departed, never to return.

Either way, the effect of the legend on Durham's roads is obvious. Sections of Green, Main and Duke are nothing but patches upon patches, so many hopeful shafts plumbed and covered that no part of Rodney's original masterful asphalt remains. And even when crews arrive to tear up this hodgepodge and replace it with a fresh surface, the very act of digging up the old provides an opportunity to look for the wrinkle or dip that could be the telling clue. Within two weeks they return to follow up on those hints and drop the first holes into the virgin pavement.

I wish you and your daughter luck in your project. Keep an eye out. One of those potholes just might show the corner of a rusty metal box, placed there long ago by the fingers of Rodney Duke.

Anonymous said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................

Andrew said...

Have you ever even been out of Durham? Do you realize that most of the rest of the world would be more than happy to have the infrastructure we have in place? Have you read the reports of New Jersey actually having the worst roads in the USA, with the highest rate of car damage due to road conditions? How about the fact that parts of downtown Philadelphia are impassable unless in a 4wd vehicle with good clearance, due to the incomplete paving of such roads, ever been there?

Having grown up in Durham, before moving up north for work for the past few years, I was surprised to see such nonsense being posted with such dedication. Where I lived in NJ, I had to replace the shocks on my car twice in three years due to local buckling of the roads from the shallow road foundations being sunken in by ocean surges and ground water creating sink holes. The bridge nearby there even still remains impassable due to its crumbling supports and roadway, and has been the cause of traffic being diverted over 30 minutes away to another such bridge in nearly the same condition.
Roads in Durham are paved in gold when compared to this, platinum lined with diamonds for the curbs when you look outside of our nation of automobile addicts and roamers of the road.

I suggest that you take this enthusiasm and dedication to such blather, and put it to use doing something actually productive with you life. Oh, and if that pothole is really bothering you on your street, do like the good citizens of Brooklyn have begun to do, and fill them in on your own using a ready mix bags of concrete... You hot air is fixing nothing.

Good day.