The End/Not End of Arboria Park: 2008-11

This week Arboria Park is a year old, and it’s time to wrap up with the last two chapters. No spoilers, but Stacy and her friends and family have organized a rally to save their community. There are speeches and entertainment, including Ruby’s rockabilly band and a reunion of Autumn’s punk group from high school. Stacy gives a speech, and finally she and her daughter and nieces perform as the Halloran Spitfires.

Through the day the crowd swells. Mary and her granddaughter, Berry, hand out T-shirts and supplies for making signs.

Ruby’s band covers Eddie Cochran’s “Twenty Flight Rock” with a twist: She’s rewritten the song to reflect Arboria Park. Here’s a video of Eddie, followed by Ruby’s lyrics:


Oh well, I’ve got a boy with a record machine
We like to rock and make the scene
We love to dance on a Saturday night
All alone, I can hold him tight
But he lives way over on Cobbs near town
And my car is broken down

So I walk Willow Beech Mimosa no lag

By Oak and Holly I’m startin’ to drag
By the time I reach Maple I’m ready to sag
Get to Cobbs, I’m too tired to rock

When he calls me up on the telephone
Said c’mon over honey, I’m all alone
I said baby, you’re mighty sweet
But I’m in the bed with achin’ feet
This went on for a couple of days
But I couldn’t stay away

So I walked Birch and Cedar, don’t wanna brag

Up by the Circle I’m startin’ to drag

By the time I reach Maple I’m ready to sag

Get to Cobbs, I’m too tired to rock


Well, they sent to Chicago for the brakes
‘Till  they’re fixed I’m gonna ache
Hope they hurry up before it’s too late
Want my baby too much to wait
All this walkin’ is for that baby of mine
They’ll find my corpse in the Pines.

The Halloran Spitfires back Sophie singing the Smithereens’ “House We Used to Live in,” a lyrically appropriate song about attachment to a particular place and the comfort of home. This song is especially bittersweet since I’ve had the privilege of knowing the Smithereens for several years now, and the recent death of singer Pat DiNizio hit me very hard. I still can’t believe I won’t be standing in front of him this summer watching the band play this song. I’m glad I heard it live as many times as I did.



The Spitfires also perform “Open Letter to a Landlord,” which gets the crowd singing along with Stacy. Soon the protesters are stopping traffic on the highway and drawing attention from local media. Will it be enough to save the Park?

The book begins and ends with lyrics from a song by one of my favorite punk bands, Against Me! Thank you, Laura Jane Grace, for sharing these lyrics to “FUCKMYLIFE666.” If Arboria Park were a movie, I’d picture this song playing during the opening credits:

Laura also does a solo acoustic version of the song, which I envision playing during the closing credits:

I wanted to use the final lines of Frank Turner’s “Polaroid Picture” to end the book. Appropriately enough, it was inspired by the loss of one of Frank’s favorite performing venues, which was torn down. But despite Frank’s very kind permission, I ran into an impenetrable wall with his publishing company and was unable to use them. But picture the book (and the movie credits) ending with this:

Tonight, a year and a day after the publication of Arboria Park, I will be receiving a first–place award for adult fiction from the Delaware Press Association, and the book has gone on to compete in the national competition of the National Federation of Press Women. During the past year, my own neighborhood lost a major, longstanding battle to prevent a local piece of land, the last green space in our area, from being developed. The project will increase traffic in already overloaded area that has no parks and now no chance of having any. Last week deer run out of the woods now being developed appeared in my neighbors’ yard, and later one of them was killed on the highway they crossed to get here. Other land battles in my state have been won, including one this week downstate. People like Stacy and Mrs. Ramsey and Mr. Jennings are fighting in every area, every day, to prevent more environmental and societal destruction. I hope Arboria Park finds these people and inspires them to keep going.

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