Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cauffiel

There once upon a time was a quarry. The Bellevue Quarry and they use to haul the rock down this way to barges on the Delaware River.

As old as I am, that was before my time.

Now where that use to be is the Bellevue State Park and down the track where the hauling went is a continuation of the Delaware Northern Greenway.

This skinny stretch attempts to connect the Bellevue State park with Fox Point State Park, but it doesn't quite complete the link...yet.

Sitting over from the trail, across the Bellevue Boulevard up on a hill is the Cauffiel House.

That is it mostly hidden by the trees. I guess if this was August or any summer month the house would be completely hidden from where I stand snapping this photo. With the leaves blown away in this early December morn you can just see the building.

There is a driveway further up the Boulevard that winds its way up to a parking lot by the house. You can drive up and visit, take a tour or perhaps attend some function it is being lent out to from time to time.

I had already went past the entrance of that drive, so I wandered up through a stretch of ground between crop fields to look it over.

Straight ahead is a gazebo. All these old estates around about here would be incomplete without a gazebo or two, or three in the case of Rockwood.

I like gazebos myself and would have liked one in the yard, but there were always more pressing needs for my money than buying one of these things, so I remain gazebo-less.

Still, I visit enough of them in my walks and wanderings to feel some odd ownership in the gazebo world.

As usual, I like to take a shot thought them.

I'm looking through this one at the main house, The Cauffiel House atop the hill. The style is called Colonial Revival.

The house was build by or for a Mister Daniel Cauffiel back in the early 1920s. He lived there with his family of wife and seven children during the summer. He lived in Wilmington the rest of the year.

Mr. Cauffiel was an advisor to the duPonts. I don't know what he advised them about, just that he did.

There is little in this neck of a land piece other that the Cauffiel Estate, the road and the trail. You can look out across the stretch of empty fields down to the Delaware River, watch the oil tankers go by or count the clouds in the sky.

Of course, the Cauffiels are no longer here. The duPonts must get along without Daniel and the house belongs to the County. The County picked it up in 1993 and now it is a tourist site and used for things like corporate meetings, weddings and varied types of social events. I imagine there is a fee involved somewhere for the privilege, although technically the house belongs to the public now, meaning you and me.


You might wonder about that odd shaped little building. From a distance it looks almost like a chapel or perhaps a bell tower. It is neither. It is a small structure housing a cream separator in the lower portion. Milk would go in one end and cream would come out the other. I have no idea what the upper part was for.

I didn't go over and look inside, maybe another time.

It felt a bit eerie wandering about here. There wasn't another sign of life, no one about but me. The parking lot was empty. I felt like an invader creeping about in the yard.


Actually, I am often the lone intruder at places. Is it because I come so early or does no one else care?

It is always nice that someone cares enough to preserve and keep-up some of these past properties, remnants of the long ago so we can see how life was. There are many pockets of history for visit around the country and we've been to many.

Of course it can get out of hand. Every time some dilapidated or unsafe eyesore is on the verge of demolition there seems to be some group that appears with pitchfork and torches and the claim we are destroying history.

Well, you can't keep everything and if these people feel so strongly why don't they take up the restoring and preservation.

Each of us carry fond memories of places from our past, usually ones remembered through the distorting mists of childhood.

The house I lived in the swamp when a child is gone now, so is the swamp. There is a college parking lot on that ground. I have but a couple photos of a small portion of the exterior of the place. I wish I could go and take the whole of the building from each side and traipse again through the rooms to record them, but it is too late.

I know little about the history of that house. I believe it was a summer home, like one nearby where no one seemed to come. Who built it and who began to renovate it, I don't know. Why was it left half renewed with the workmen's scaffolds still up along one side?

I know it had no real historic significance, unless by some weird twist of time I should become famous and then people will say The Old Goat once lived there.

Now, looking over at the Cauffiel barn it occurs to me I don't know the historic significance of this place either.

A man, probably well-off had it build on this hill where he could see the Delaware in the summertime. He was an advisory to the duPonts, but not a duPont. Was he anything more than that? I can't seem to find much about him. He isn't in Wikipedia, so he and I share that lack of honor. What I know is he was from Johnstown, Pennsylvania and moved to Wilmington, Delaware. He craved a summer retreat and loved the Bellevue acreage, land once occupied by the Lenni-Lenapi and then by early Swedish settlers.

Is it the architecture? It doesn't seem that unique. It certainly isn't that old having been built in the 1920s. It was a popular site from Claymont down  for the wealthy to built estates along the river. This Cauffiel place was sometimes called "The Last River House". I don't know if it was last in line or the last one build.

Perhaps it is the location.

It is a nice site with the view of the river from the back windows and what then may have been but woods when built. Even now it is fairly uncrowded by the progress and growth of the last 90 years.

Even though the morning has slipped by nothing has changed. The clock has passed the eight o'clock hour when this place is officially open, but there is no sight of life beyond me here.

No cars come up, no one opens a door, no footsteps of some caretaker with a key hurry along the path.

It stays still and silent and chill.

It is time to continue on with my purpose here today, the objective of my walk and my real reason to be in this place to take it.

The house was just a side diversion from that.

What I came for is down there.

I'm looking down from the driveway of the Cauffiel House parking lot. The road you see is Bellevue Boulevard. The pavement you see curling around just across the road is a continuation of the Delaware Northern Greenway.

I really came down here to walk this link since it is a section of the Greenway I haven't walked to date.



I already was down that curving path and on the trail. The trip up the hill to the house was my going off on a tangent. It really came after the fact, so to speak. I am thus going to treat where the path ended as the beginning and walk us back from that point.

You see the trail actually ends here, up against the side of Governor Printz Boulevard. If you consult information about the Northern Greenway you are told you can walk it from Fletcher Brown Park in Wilmington to Fox Point State Park on the Delaware. Technically this is true, but in reality the trail doesn't connect to Fox Point. You would have to hike a fair distance up along Governor Printz to Edgemore Road to get across the Boulevard, I-495 and the Amtrak rails, then walk along Lighthouse Road a bit to get into Fox Point. They hope someday to connect that park with this, but it isn't
now.

So we begin here where the trail stops.



Perhaps you are wondering about who Governor Printz was to have a highway named after him. You probably took a guess that he was a former governor of Delaware.

You'd be wrong.

He was a governor of what became a part of Delaware, but not of the state.

Johan Bjornsson Printz, son of a Lutheran Minister, was born in 1592.  In 1653 he became the governor of New Sweden, the Swedish colony on the Delaware River. The Lenni Lenape, who lived here when the Swedes arrived, called Printz, "Big Belly" since he weighted over 400 pounds. Obviously he made a big footprint because a number of things have been named in his honor.

As you can see this isn't the most used of the trails in the area. It is kind of off the beaten track, you might say. I was very much alone here. It isn't the wider paved paths of most of the parks. It is fairly narrow and basically a dirt footpath through a narrow stretch of woods.

Except for the Cauffiel House and the Bellevue Boulevard it is pretty barren to the one side. On the other is a line of houses just beyond a small creek.

Where the trail ends there are also the businesses that line Governor Printz Boulevard, things like auto wrecking yards and truck rentals.

This is where the creek comes up against some piping under the Boulevard.

The creek zig-zags through here and under a series of small bridges, which adds some interest to it all.

Otherwise, it is pretty bleak and lonely wandering down this trail.

The sun is to my back here throwing my shadow on the ground before me. Since it is early morning not long after sunrise, I must be walking in a westerly direction.

For some reason, I always feel I am going south to north when in actuality I am walking east to west.

See how easy it is to be disoriented as to direction without a compass? No wonder people get lost.

Of course as long as I stick to the trail I won't get lost.

See what I mean about a series of bridges. Already I am approaching another.

Actually this photo was taken from the other side of the next bridge. You can see some of the homes that run along the tree line and path in the background.

From here the path will be wider and paved and will parallel the Bellevue Boulevard. This was the point where I crossed that street and went up the hill to the Cauffiel House, but we are going to pretend I just kept going up the path.













Just throwing in a couple more shots of this section of the trail before I leave the tree line behind and move on.


We come out of the woods and now follow the street.

It was odd when I came walking down here along this trail. A car came from toward the river and slowed. The driver seemed to be looking at me, studying me. I thought he was going to stop, but he didn't. He finally sped away to where ever he was going.

It left me wondering what he was thinking. Did he recognize me from somewhere? Did he think I was someone he knew? Or was he just surprised to see someone walking along this section?

I don't think I looked quite as much like a bum as I often do. I had on my "good" winter coat, one new a year ago. I was all in black this morning, the black jacket, black cap and black jeans. It was pretty cold. I had on a dark gray hoody under my jacket, but I'm not sure I had the hood up. I don't think I did. I believe I looked quite respectable.

Oh, the street ahead is Philadelphia Pike. We will reach it and cross it soon.

Anyway, I don't always look this respectable.

Often I look less so, I guess. These chill mornings, especially if a wind, will find me wearing my old light brown jacket. It has its own hood and comes down long on my thighs. It is fairly warm against blustery weather. The problem is it is quite old now, faded and stained, much like myself,  and worst of all ripped down the left sleeve. The tear is bad and the inner stuffing between the outer layer and inner lining puffs out through it. It gives me a somewhat down and out  look I fear. My middle daughter gave it to me many moons ago for Christmas, when she was still in her early teens. I always liked the jacket. It got ripped at a super market one day. I was pushing my cart into the checkout and my sleeve snagged on the edge of some kind of display rack they had and it just ripped.



We have crossed the Pike and caught the Northern Greenways path once more. It is now going to lead into Bellevue State Park.

See, the path curves away from the highway up toward that stone wall.





This takes us by the Mt. Pleasant Meetinghouse, a Quaker church from 1838. It is on the historical registry and owned by the County. You can have events here, too.

We need remember this part of Delaware was once part of Pennsylvania, owned by William Penn. The heritage of much of this area is Quaker and you will find a large number of small meetinghouses scattered about and a confusion of Meetinghouse Roads.




I guess if I were to learn the history of this particular meetinghouse I would have to go on one of the occasional candlelight night tours of the building and the cemetery behind.

Although over the years the Little Woman and I, and sometimes our kids when young, were frequent visitors in Bellevue, the trails here are new to me.  I just never had occasion or reason to wander down this way in the past. I wasn't even aware of this little graveyard.



These are more less frequented paths. They are very much corridors, kind of dark and forgotten, even though they run silently behind a parking garage servicing a corporate plaza next door.








I have to admit, I haven't met another soul this whole time yet. It is as if I were the last man on Earth.

Here is an information board and a bike rack, totally empty of any bikes.

The path weaves about this station.

It is all first time places to me.






I come past these evergreens and meet the first person this morning, a lady jogging down the trail. We say hello and she jogs down the path I just came.

These are empty places and I wonder at the women I pass out walking or running alone through these woods. I've done it all my life and it never occurs to me how isolated many of these trails are. But I'm not a woman, although I suppose as an old man I am someone vulnerable too. Still, I pass these women all the time on my walks, alone and so often dressed in revealing clothing.

You are probably thinking, "Well, yes in the summer when they can wear shorts and halters, but this is late fall and a nip of early winter is teasing the air. They must be bundled from the cold." They are not bundled how we think of bundled, in bulky coats and heavy scarves. They ware skin-tight running suits or tights. I don't know, The Little Woman says she would be nervous on the trails alone.






But now as we get more into this corner of Bellevue we begin to meet more people.

I'm not the Lone Ranger anymore.

I'm still not into the parts of the park I know well, so I am still exploring it is just I am not the only one on the trail and am saying hello here and there.






There is a couple strolling ahead.

I have much on my mind. I am still thinking about the future of my Blog in the coming year. I feel I have been wandering in some cyber back woods lately, that I am alone on my path of words.

No one is reading it, I am just walking along here talking to myself and not getting any answers.

I like to wander these forests alone, but I am not sure I see the point of writing to no one but myself.



Maybe it is time to pull the plug.

Ah, with this bench I have come back into territory I have walked before and the bench is a welcome sight. Not because it is familiar, but because my shoelaces have untied themselves and it is a convenient place to retie them.

That chore accomplished, I continue up this trail on my walk. I will go up a bit and cross over into woods again.

It will be a path in that woods where I will meet the deer I posted about the other day.

Again, no response from anywhere about my deer encounter, no comments, no feedback, just another sign that this Blog has served its purpose, if it had one.

There in the distance, distracting me from my gloomy thoughts is a couple walking some dogs. I meet a lot of dogs on the trails.

Now I meet the deers and then I go almost down to Bringhurst before doubling back.

I go up onto the oval track and follow it around to go back to the parking lot.

Sitting beneath a tree I see a new old friend.



He is just sitting there until he sees me and then he gets up and ambles down to me in greeting. He rubs against my legs and looks up.  I guess he does live here. It's nice to see him again and it's nice he remembers me. Somehow I always have animals to cheer me up.

7 comments:

Ron Tipton said...

Your pictures are beautiful. You narrative is wonderful. Have you considered putting all of your posts about the trails you have traveled in a book form? I would. I bet no one else has done it. I think you can do it fairly inexpensively through Blogger. I'm considering of putting some of my blog postings in a self produced book if for no other reason than just to have it for myself and leave a little something behind to remember me by.

Ron

Larry, aka The Kid and The Old Goat said...

Ron,

Actually I have. I have all these walking post gathered together on file under the working title, "A Writer Walks and Writes of Walking".

Lar

Ron Tipton said...

Lar,

How do you know if no one is reading your blog? Do you have a site meter or are you looking for comments? I rarely receive comments but I know several people read my blog. I receive comments byu e-mail too. I write because I feel a need to write. Of course I would like people to read my blog but if they don't, I would still write. I write in my daily journal at home also and no one reads that (I hope not, that's the uncensored version of my daily life) but I know someone will probably read it in the future. I guess it all depends on what you're looking for in a blog. Some write to make money. Some write to alleviate loneliness. Some just write. That's me, I just write. I hope you keep up with your blog. Write about your daily activities. You lead a very interesting life. Write about that.

Ron

Ron Tipton said...

Here's another thought. You may be scaring people off of your blog when they see that bearded guy sitting at the table with you. Some people don't like beards. Just saying.

Andy said...

That cat is a permanent fixture to the park now that the park superintendent has adopted him. His name is Hemingway.

Andy said...

The cat will now be a permanent fixture at the park since the park superintendent has now adopted him. His name is Hemingway.

Larry, aka The Kid and The Old Goat said...

Andy,

Thank you for the information. I am happy to here this cat will be taken care of and I may occasionally meet him again on my walks. I am also pleased he has been given such a distinguished name as Hemingway, one of my favorite authors.

Lar