I grew up in Irvington, New Jersey, which I’d best describe as a suburb of Newark, despite the area not being suburban in a soccer-mom sense. Irvington has been given a rough reputation, but I’m loyal to it. It’s my hometown.
As a kid, I knew every house on my street. I knew all the blocks around me. I knew downtown and I knew the parks. I felt sad every time another neighbor moved. People tried to stay in touch, but a lot of friendships faded.
I was a kid and I did not see color. I saw people.
I still see people as people. Not their color, faith, sexuality, or politics.
But this wasn’t supposed to be a post about that. I wanted to share something weird from my childhood. I couldn’t find anything written about it, although I’d bet other people in Irvington were probably told a similar story as a kid.
Irvington has these canals. Some people call them brooks. Made of stone and pretty tall in some areas, finished with fencing and probably pretty damn old.
Anyway, when it rains, they fill up. We have them here too, but in the Southwest, they’re flatter and wider. The ones in Irvington—if you got in one, climbing out was difficult. Kids drown in things like that. Hell, kids drown in the ones here too.
My father knew how much I explored. Really, I got into everything. I had friends that had gone into the canals. Well, my father showed me this stone face in the wall near the high school. He told me several versions of how that face got there:
It was haunted. It was the guardian of the waterways. It was one of the people who built it and they got stuck and were left there! It was even someone he knew. Half the time, I suspected he’d put the face there himself.
Other kids got similar stories. One of our neighbors even told this gruesome tale of the face being the mother of some kids who drowned down there! Told all us kids that one. “If you go down there, she’ll keep you instead!” Real La Llorona.
If you’d heard that woman talk, you’d believe her too.
Kept us from going down there. Still, wonder what the true story is?
CLICK HERE for a photograph of the “face in the wall”.
I couldn’t reach the photographer for permission and didn’t feel comfortable using the image without his okay. It’s the only photo I could find of the “face”.