Central Park to the Liberty Bell, 5th April : The Five Libraries Day

We just received this detailed account of our April 5th stroll from Marjorie:

This 13+ mile hike in New Jersey covered the area from Cranford, Union County, known as the “cock pit of the Revolution” to The Railway Town of Dunellen in Middlesex County. We walked through townships which had seen better days, townships which were obviously on the up-and-up and historic areas which had stood the test of time well. We paid homage to 4 of the libraries, which presented as well stocked, comfortable and welcoming community centres. The bathrooms were especially user-friendly and there were even book bargains for those who were able to carry them.

The day started promptly with the hotel shuttle to Newark Penn Station and the train to Cranford. Cranford is an historic commercial centre which had recently been designated as a ‘special improvement district’ and had made some attractive ‘Victorian style’ renovations. Most importantly it had a Starbucks and we had an essential caffeine stop – at the special request of Louise, before walking to the cosy Cranford Library in glorious sunshine. Much encouraged we were soon in Garwood, known locally as the “small town with a big heart”. It seemed a pleasant township and was notable for the school building with the ‘trompe d’oeil’ fake windows and doors, and very pretty décor in the library.

First Methodist Church
First Methodist Church in Westfield, NJ.

En route to Scotch Plains we walked though Westfield, where we had an impromptu talk from one of the members of the First Methodist Church. He told us that the township was being regenerated by an influx of wealthy people. There was certainly evidence of this in the up-market shops, memorials set in attractive gardens and a general air of prosperity. Scotch Plains did not look so prosperous but had a good pub where we had lunch and managed to pay the bill in cash thanks to high finance from Annie and Harry. Our route then took us via the Scotch Plains Library through Plainfield where we strolled though fine streets of lovely period houses. Originally a Quaker settlement, Plainfield still has some 18th century buildings including Nathaniel Drake House, 1746, known as George Washington’s headquarters during the Battle of Short Hills in June 1777.

Unfortunately for the last part of the walk to Dunellen we headed into a strong cold wind which hit us as we plodded for 3 miles along a long stretch of road bordered by derelict and semi derelict industrial buildings. For me this was the only low point in the whole walk and I did briefly question my sanity in being there! On reaching Dunellen Station there was a dash for the train and not only did we miss the last library but more than half the team were left behind in the scramble for tickets. Among the lucky ones, who did make the train, were the 2 team captains who had somewhat ‘red faces’ since they had abandoned most of their flock!

Thankfully Team Liberty Bell is made up of resourceful people and the abandoned ones took the time to practise their singing and zumba skills as well as sourcing coffee outlets and bathroom facilities for the next day’s walk. Real boy scouts.

Marjorie (with a little help from Harry) Clasper

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