The Watchman

Trash houseBy Kelly Magee

When John Lipscomb was in his early 20s he had a love affair that affected the next thirty years of his life. He was a young apprentice in a boatyard. She was a 60-foot wooden schooner. They spent two years together while he learned the trade of boat-building from maritime men who fought in World War II. For Lipscomb it was the beginning of a life on the water. For the next two decades he would live like a vagabond nine months out of the year doing expedition filmmaking and ocean sailing.

Although the Hudson River has improved a great deal in Lipscomb’s lifetime from a dumping ground for raw sewage and oil into a swimmable river, it has not fully outgrown its old problems. Indian Point power plant remains open, and the fish kills and groundwater pollution continue. Paint from the General Motors plant no longer turns the water strange colors, but bottles and plastic containers cover the river’s natural beaches.

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