Wayne County Wanderings: Kevin's Lunchtime Walk

Central Park was buzzing with activity every day this week when I took my usual lunchtime stroll.

There were campers playing frisbee, families enjoying picnic lunches, folks relaxing on benches. Happy shouts of children frolicking in the playground area floated along on the warm summer breeze.

On this particular day, I decided to cut across the park instead of just power-walking the perimeter.

My plan was to take some cell phone pix of the new banners lining the paths. However, that plan was derailed by a simple scene at the edge of the fountain.

Healing Waters

The first photo I took was of Art Wall Jr's banner … Honesdale's favorite son and Masters champion.

When I looked down at my screen, though, I was less than thrilled with the result. The lighting was all wrong and there just wasn't any depth to the picture.

So, I began jockeying around, looking for a better angle while simultaneously trying to get both the Civil War monument and Irving Cliff in frame.

I eventually succeeded, but when I examined these latest pix, something else caught my attention and caused me to look up.

Two unbelievably cute children, a boy and a girl, were standing in front of the fountain … seemingly transfixed by the pulsing streams of water. They couldn't have been more than four or five years old and they were dressed similarly, so I'm guessing they were siblings.

The scene was like something out of a movie:

A perfect summer day, blue skies and bright sunshine, just a hint of a breeze … people of all ages and descriptions swirling around. The focal point of the scene, though, was the two adorable little ones standing there … wide-eyed and utterly mesmerized.

There's just something magical about a fountain. It's so easy to become lost in time while standing there at the rail, looking and listening to the water.

The two little tykes weren't alone there for long.

Mom and Dad appeared after a few moments, each kneeling down next to their children. I considered taking a couple of quick, surreptitious photos of the young family, but decided against it. This was their moment, not mine.

Besides, the image had triggered all sorts of memories that caused me to sit and reflect...

Time Traveling

My earliest memory of the Central Park fountain are from childhood days.

Back then, many of us Honesdaleans attended what we affectionately referred to as “Kieglergarten.” This was a forerunner of modern pre-schools run by the beloved Teresa Kiegler.

The Kieglergarten building stood roughly where Sheeley Insurance (Rodgers-Olver-Polley) is now located. Some days, when the weather cooperated, we'd march across Church Street and have “recess” in the park.

Needless to say, the fountain drew many of us in like a magnet. In my mind's eye I can still see a big group of us encircling it, little hands reaching up to grasp the single strand of chain that served as a fence, looking up in wonder.

Another image followed hard on the first. This one was of my Dad and me standing there in front of the fountain.

I was little, no more than four or five. Dad had just handed me a quarter and was gently urging me to make a wish and toss the coin into the water. I closed my eyes and thought hard about all sorts of amazing things … trykes, bikes, baseball gloves, bats and balls. I don't remember what I settled on, but I do recall pitching that quarter right down the middle.

Later on, Dad kiddingly asked what I'd wished for. When I started to tell him, he stopped me mid-sentence and explained that wishes have to be kept secret.

He also added a little tidbit that I've carried with me to this very day: The best chance of having your wish come true is to wish for something for somebody else.

I realize now that, in his own quiet way, Dad was trying to teach me to be unselfish … which is a admittedly a tough concept for a child to grasp!

Many years later, when my own children were old enough, we spent many happy hours playing in Central Park.

Every day before we left, the three of us would march over to the fountain. There, I'd hand Alec and Scout each a quarter. They'd close their eyes, make a wish and pitch them into the water...

A Bit of History

The Central Park fountain was built in conjunction with our nation's centennial celebration in 1876.

The Ladies Monumental Association (the same group that had raised funds for the Civil War Memorial statue) reorganized in 1876 as the Ladies Centennial Fountain Association.

For the next three years the women asked local folks for $1 subscriptions. They organized bake sales, sponsored plays and held lectures.

In the end, this intrepid band of ladies raised the required $1,100. The fountain was formally presented to "the Common Council for the village" on July 3, 1879.

A parade and festival celebrated the event. Cut into the stonework of the fountain are the words: “1776 Memorial 1876.”

In 1993 the Zabady Family gave a new copper fountain designed to fit into the original stonework.

This gift was made in memory of Margaret and Toffy Zabady.

Full Circle

As I watched the little family join hands and head for their car, I thought about the attractive power of the Central Park fountain.

I wondered how many thousands of people have stood before it since that first day in 1876.

I wondered about the countless folks who've tossed coins into the water.

I wondered what they wished for and whether or not those dreams came true.

When I finally emerged from this little reverie, I put my phone away and walked over to the fountain.

I dug deep in my pocket and found two quarters, closed my eyes and made my wish.

I tossed them, one at a time, into the fountain and watched as they swirled gently to the bottom.