Ballad of Gilbert Park Benches
Because he was in the ruling class,
nobody cared where he parked his ass.
So Max Ehrmann’s got his own damn bench
on 7th and Wabash where the mensch
sits immortal in bronze. But meanwhile,
down the highway east in Gilbert Park
the whole contrast couldn’t be more stark.
There, police had seats carted away,
saying they need to keep crime at bay.
Removing a place to congregate
causes criminals to relocate –
and then they’re someone else’s problem.
Some Hautians believe the bad guys come
from Lighthouse Mission across the street.
The down-and-out and homeless take heat
for wanting, like Max, to sit a spell.
Yet, they too have their stories to tell.
No less than the trees and stars, they’ve the right
to exist and not be blamed for blight.
Anyway, the seat removal scheme
was swiftly undermined, it would seem,
when a living room sofa appeared!
Might have been comfy, but it looked weird.[Not a valid template]
The park’s empty and the couch is gone,
yet the crazy saga still goes on.
When events take place, benches return!
But what happens when the bad guys learn
they don’t have to sit down to deal drugs
or act like stupid violent thugs?
As a fair solution this won’t float:
another failure in Terre Haute!
Maybe police should… police the spot
and then the troublemakers would get caught.
Guys shooting the breeze, chewing the fat
could be left alone to just do that.
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About The Author
Lucinda Berry was born in Terre Haute, got a B.A. in English from Indiana State University, studied in Oxford, England, and worked in Shimonoseki, Japan and traveled a good deal in Asia, got an M.A. in Linguistics from Indiana University, and eventually ended up back in Terre Haute. Her favorite place in Terre Haute is the Swope Art Museum. If she happened to be there when a fire broke out, she would rush to save Jack Levine’s “A Joy Forever.”
The sense that I’ve gotten the few times I’ve strolled through Gilbert Park this summer is that it’s become “their/our territory”. It’s not a good vibe if I may use such a ridiculous word. To Shelly, if compassion is an overriding priority, would it be o.k. if they came and showered at your house?
Now there has been a molesting within a half-mile or so of Gilbert Park, it is reported.
In an inspired and valiant effort to suppress crime in the area, the city removed the benches from the park. Apparently that has not worked. There was still a molestation blocks away. It is time to ramp up the effort.
Now it is time to tear down the picnic shelters. Surely that will work. If not that, the mayor can sell the park to Eric Turner to build a nursing home there, like he did with Memorial Park. Or give it to the school corporation to build a squash and badminton facility, like the Tanoos Puddle Aquatic Center. There is no longer any crime in the Voorhees Park neighborhood. Well, maybe excepting something that might turn up in the FBI investigation of VCSC, rumored to have something to do with the shenanigans associated with the Aquatic Center, which in a manner of speaking is a crime in itself.
The beat goes on.
You’re writing was a step in the right direction. Everyone in a town deserves to have a park, and a bench. Desiderata is right–the people that use Gilbert Park have the right to be treated be here, and to be treated like human beings. Someone posted on Facebook that homeless people sleep there (the scourge). I say, great–they’re not sleeping on the ground! There will always be homeless people. Let’s not always attribute homelessness and poverty-stricken with drug abuse and alcoholism.
While driving around St. Petersburg, Florida a few years ago, it became apparent that they have a lot of homeless folks. The grass and bushes were tamped and matted, I asked my son and he confirmed my thought that some homeless folks had been sleeping there.
I’d rather see them on benches.
Let’s put the benches back in Gilbert park and add more. Easy. My life is worth the same amount to God as these homeless folks.’
Let’s set up port-a-potties and showers too. Now THAT would be humane!
” The price of freedom is . . . I admire the artistic synergy of language & image.