Some of the delivery routes in Somerville were mounted routes which utilized Jeeps for motorized transport, while other routes involved walking from the main office to the point of delivery and then walking back after delivering the assigned route. I had the pleasure of delivering many neighborhoods in this area and then taking time for lunch at a pre-determined place such as the Somerset Medical Center. You were allowed 30 minutes for lunch, just enough time for a quick salad or sandwich at the Medical Center's coffee shop and café.
While enjoying lunch, I often would gaze out the window looking North to the beauty of the Watchung Mountains, a lovely stretch of low hills which dotted the horizon in magisterial fashion. The entire line of hilltops was visible from the large windows at the café, a view which I can still vividly remember to this day. Though these hills measured between 400 to 500 feet in elevation at some points, the image they presented from a distance suggested they were just barely visible, perhaps seeming to measure only slightly higher than the far horizon. But what beauty they did possess, drawing my eye along the characteristic contours of their solidly impressive length.
So my vision was drawn to these contours along the North horizon, a moment which I have attempted to capture in this impressionistic music. I came to love these neighborhoods where I delivered the mail, walking down the tree-lined streets and boulevards, envisioning both angular entities and smooth transitions along the well-kept lawns and clean sidewalks and spacious driveways. There was a palpable atmosphere of small town America in such lovely neighborhoods, almost as if every day could be considered a cinematic adventure enlivened by the noble outreach of our appointed tasks.
This music attempts to clarify some of these artistic impressions, a retrospective recollection of events which transpired some 37 to 38 years ago. Performed upon my vintage 1950's Scandalli, a 4/5 reed instrument in LMMH configuration.
One of the joys of delivering the mail is seeing all aspects of a particular neighborhood and getting to know the customers who live along the streets and boulevards of a geographical area. When I started as a Letter Carrier in Somerville, New Jersey in June of 1975, I quickly became immersed in the sensory elements of walking different routes and observing the manifold varieties of visual beauty along the way. You notice the noble green avenues of leafy trees and freshly cut lawns, the trimmed hedges and colorful flower gardens, the lovely architecture of historical homes with lace-curtained windows and white trimmed wooden porches. It is almost like a nostalgic scene from Rod Serling's "Walking Distance," a favorite Twilight Zone episode from October, 1959, where Martin Sloan (Gig Young) goes back in time to an earlier and more idyllic age. You can sense the history of small town America and envision the mystery and the majesty of a thousand different patterns involved in the life of a petite representation of civilization.
The accordion improvisation above is a response to my memories of delivering the mail in Somerville and often catching a glimpse of the distant horizons as seen from the streets where I was walking my assigned route. I remember so distinctly the beautiful lines of the Watchung Mountains to the north, how these shapes seemed to dominate the horizon in a poetic and thoroughly engaging manner. You could trace these artistic lines with your eye and never tire of their encompassing beauty or subtle power of expression. To me it seemed like a form of musical expression in which I took considerable delight. As I do not have a pipe organ, I have tried to capture via the accordion a sense of the musical nature of those moments in time.