Clap Your Hands if You Like Ferries:
The Hadlyme Ferry has been saved, for now, along with its sister ship up the Connecticut River in Rocky Hill. That it almost didn’t survive Connecticut’s fiscal food fight says a lot about us, none of it flattering.
The service predates the founding of this nation by seven years, and we were going to lay the boats and crew off like they were high school interns – all in the name of our Almighty Budget. We were set to banish them from our great state of Taxophobia in a paroxysm of pennywise-and-pound foolishness.
What had these vessels done for us lately except, of course, foster tourism, remind us of our can-do Yankee heritage, and afford their passengers a peerless view of the mighty Connecticut River?
We put a price on our history. What’s up next, our immortal souls?
I have to confess, I didn’t do much to save it. I wrote a couple of emails. The meetings were at night and five miles from my house. I think the Sox were playing the Yankees. I’m not alone. We’re mad as hell about the world but too self-absorbed to do anything about it. We can’t think of anything good to say about government, but few of us are willing to contribute anything constructive. We prefer to whine and pound the remote.
Give Governor Dannel Malloy some credit. I strongly suspect that he was trying to teach us a lesson – a civics lesson. It’s awfully hard to dislike the Hadlyme Ferry. The current vessel was built in 1949, the year I was born. It’s short and stout and slow and cute as a button. I first took it when I was in college. My son was a toddler when he embarked on his maiden voyage. He stopped sucking his thumb and took it all in, as if he had landed on Saturn.
You’re liable to see a bald eagle from the Hadlyme Ferry, if you are lucky, and more than likely a cormorant or two will be diving for fish. Sometimes an American egret, stately and about as white as white can get, is patrolling the Chester shore. But seeing nothing but the river for three minutes makes for a successful trip all the same.
I have started taking it to work lately, from East Haddam across and then down Route 154 to Centerbrook, out of guilt and nostalgia, I suppose. You know, support your local ferry that is about to go under for the third time (it’s been on the block before). But I have gotten to like it for itself. It shortens my commute a bit and lowers my blood pressure. We are such busy little bees, we Americans, rushing about, tailgating one another, passing on the curve to get somewhere five minutes sooner.
Malloy knew what he was doing, all right. You want less government? I’ll give you less government. I’ll take away your ferries. Are you happy now? Is this the world you want to live in? The howls of complaints around these parts, and beyond, were louder than the coyotes at night. And it wasn’t just us bleeding heart liberals. Everyone is in favor of bare bones government until the specifics start flying like mortar shells.
Good job, Governor, says I. You forced us to pay attention. Some of us even attended a public meeting (gasp!), many undoubtedly for the first time. Saving the Hadlyme Ferry won’t cure the world, but you have to start somewhere.
Look, people, I know government can be wasteful and inefficient. Most people I know are wasteful and inefficient, myself included. We all should work on that. But we should do it with care and decorum. Life’s too short to deploy the guillotine when a skillfully wielded scalpel will get the job done.
The first mate reports that business is up, what with the publicity about the ferry closing and all. I may purchase a discount commuter book: 20 rides for $40. That would be the efficient thing to do.