Ringwood, NJ: The Best Hometown In America

Ringwood, NJ: The Best Hometown In America

Maybe you’re lucky enough to have a place like it to always call home

Regardless of where your hometown is, I’m sure there is something about it that makes it unique, something about it that keeps a piece of your heart when you leave, and something about it that makes you proud to call it home. My home just happens to be a small lake community in Northern New Jersey called Ringwood. If you call Ringwood home like I do, I’m sure it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes it so special. I guess we can begin here...

The random pool of knowledge that most know to be true

The best place to get a ham, egg and cheese sandwich is, in fact, Goldbergs. Growing up, Fab Fridays at Cupsaw lake were nothing short of fab. You know that everyone thinks their own lake is the greatest and yes, Stonetown is part of Ringwood too. You know all the best places to hike, and you were devastated when the McDonald’s closed. You know ELPOA day and the St. Patrick’s Day parade are basically national holidays, and you know that The Old Forge isn’t exactly the classiest bar in America. And you also know that if you want get a message across for the whole town to see, you paint the rock.

The surrounding community

The irony of Ringwood is that no one can quite understand how incredible it is by just driving over Skyline Drive and through the one light town (just installed in 2013). People see the lakes and the trees and experience the winding roads with no sidewalks, and they see the lack of industrialization. But what they don’t see when they are driving though is the spark in the community itself. You cannot go anywhere in town without seeing someone you know. Everyone is connected in some way, somehow.

The history embedded in the town

I’m not going to give you a history lesson, but there are a few pretty cool facts worth mentioning:

  • The Hudson River Chain used by the Patriots to stop the British from crossing the Hudson River during the Revolutionary War was manufactured in the Ringwood ironworks.
  • George Washington visited Ringwood Manor as a guest frequently because of his mapmaker, Robert Erskine, but he never actually slept there.
  • The castle, known as Skylands Manor, was once an old Christian liberal arts college named Shelton College.
  • Up until 1935, there was always a gateman present at the Erskine entrance along Ringwood Avenue to ask the destination of travelers coming into the lakes. For several years, a sign that said "Restricted Christian Community" stood at the entrance.
  • The name “Ringwood” is derived from the descriptive “ring of woods” landscape.
  • In 1933, Cupsaw Lake was part of the Erskine Lakes Country Club, and due to depression era-inflation, the cost to belong rose from $3.00 to $5.00 annually.
  • The paving of Skyline Drive in the 1950s led to the expansion of Ringwood and resulted in more people living in Ringwood year-round as opposed to just owning summer homes.

The beauty

You cannot escape describing Ringwood without bragging about its beauty. Ringwood is home to New Jersey’s Botanical Garden. It’s home to an abundance of hiking trails and spectacular views and lakes. Even if Stonetown doesn’t get its own lake, the Monksville Reservoir is the best spot to catch the sunset. And fun fact: there is a bamboo forest in the state park. I kid you not. If you grew up in Ringwood, you know that being outside every day was a given. You know that seeing deer and black bear around the corner was a normal occurrence. You know that the go-to brag-worthy photo-op in Ringwood is either the Monksville Reservoir or the lane of trees in the state park. And, at one point in your life, you’ve been to Warm Puppy Rock.

At the end of the day, I hope you consider yourself blessed to live in such a beautiful and unique town. Whether you grew up in Ringwood and moved away or you’re living there now, just know that you’re lucky enough to have a place like Ringwood to always call home.
Cover Image Credit: www.ringwoodnj.net

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Poetry as A Way to Process Body Image

A poem about my hands

The prompt for this poem was "what do my hands know?". I've answered this prompt before and written about being a musician who creates aural art with her hands, but this time I turned my contemplation in a different direction—toward my hands themselves.

I think it's interesting that I chose to conflate knowledge with a realization of aesthetic value independent from traditional social norms for women in the current US culture.

A History of My Hands

By Lydia Solodiuk

My hands know that they are beautiful.

It was a reckoning a long time in coming.

I hated their oversizedness, having a man’s hands in the 5th grade isn’t what any girl wants.

I hated that I didn’t have pianist hands even though I was a pianist in my younger days

It took a visit to a laser esthetician office’s,

She, heavily coated with makeup and derision, judged my hands unacceptable to the feminine norm.

So I ran outside, into the narrow parking lot bordering a small highway. Everything smelled like exhaust and rubber and pizza sauce.

I watched the man through the grimy window shape a pizza with his bulky man hands into a perfect swirling circle.

That was the beginning of love, for me and my hands.

What a poetic beginning for a girl descended from Sicilian orchards

Where grimy, hardworking hands slowly caressed lemons into wooden boxes.

Cover Image Credit: Public Domain

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Who IS Allowed To Talk About Gun Control?

I have more questions than there are answers but I hope that we are on the way to a country with far less gun violence.

Who is allowed to talk about gun control?

I see a lot of stuff on social media saying that teenagers don’t know enough to talk about gun control. Why? If a teenager dies of cancer, their friends talk about cancer. If a teenager dies because they were hit by a drunk driver on Prom night, the high school scares their students into not drinking and driving. Guess what, 17 teenagers were killed last week. Why are their friends not allowed to have an opinion on that? They have been going to funerals every day since Friday. I can’t imagine having to go to the funeral of the guy I sat next in math class. People my age aren’t supposed to die, we are supposed to graduate and get our dream job. A high school student should be thinking about homework and what movie they're seeing this weekend, not if that noise in the hallway was a man with a gun.

In media, we project images of strong teenagers. The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Maze Runner, they are all books and movies depicting kids in situations they don’t like. The main characters fight the system causing an uproar from the adults. But, in the end the teenagers are victorious, their prize is happiness and spending their adult lives in peace. Why would adults feed their children these novels and not expect the message to be taken to heart.

Ou president is a 71 year old white man, there were approximately 14 incidents where shots were fired in a school. That is about as many as there have been in 2018. I have no idea what changed, what has made this number dramatically increase. But obviously something needs to change. Why does President Trump feel threatened by the idea of making the ability to purchase a gun less accessible?

Personally, I don’t think that we need to make all guns illegal. There are many people, several of which I’m related to, who legally own guns that have only ever been used to shoot animals during their designated hunting seasons. But, last week I watched in horror as the news story of a guy that I graduated with was shot and killed. He had recently bought a pump action shotgun and was showing friends when it accidentally went off and shot him in the chest.In our society, guns are not going to disappear, but they are far too prevalent and easily accessible to those who clearly do not need to be in possession them.

The students of Douglas High School do not want to do away with guns. They want to make sure that no one ever has to worry about their friends, children, siblings or any one else while they are trying to get an education. I have more questions than there are answers but I hope that we are on the way to a country with far less gun violence.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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