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Telephone Pole Blues look back and agree that despite the swath of human suffering gouged out by the great depression and the Second World War, Cascade Park was the zenith of the city. By the early forties, the smooth jazz of the big swing bands propelled the shouting and laughing of eager couples dancing the jitterbug or the Lindy Hop. Here the spark was struck ~ the flame of life was lit by the living and held high against the hot breath of war. New Castle, in these times, offered a good hard life best lived all out by the hardy livers holding down durable jobs in the tin mills and potteries; in the factories and rail yards, on the farms and in the coal mines. They sweated all day, and then took a hot bath at home, changed into clean clothes and went to Cascade Park. Whether you were on good or bad terms with reality, this was a place to nudge life’s gritty coarseness aside if only for a few hours, in favor of fun, excitement, a touch of whimsy and a little romance. For Billy James it was a chance to throw back his head, wave his arms, kick up his heals and spin around the dance floor on an unofficial date with Ruthie Sanfilippo. He was still working toward the good graces of Frank and Mary Sanfilippo, and because of his provisional status, formal dates with their daughter were not yet permitted. But there was no harm in the

occasional chance encounter ~ right? She would arrive at the park with her girlfriends and then, at a designated respectable hour observed by all good girls, she’d leave and return home with those same friends. In between she and Billy would jump aboard some of the midway rides, share ice cream and pop, dance up a hurricane, and then take the paddle boats out to where the light of summer’s full moon was obscured by the night shadows cast from lakeside trees. And if you pulled your little boat to the bank and disembarked beneath the limbs of these trees there were emerald grassy knolls perfect for unrolling and spreading out soft blankets on which promises had been made and lies exchanged for generations. Dick Ridenbaugh had ended up that evening with no ride home. So he gladly accepted the offer of a ride on the back of Billy’s motorcycle. Dick’s own motorcycle was temporarily out of commission due to an unscheduled encounter with a fire hydrant. And while most of


July 2015 ttimes web magazine  
July 2015 ttimes web magazine  

Tidewater Times july 2015