Car-Ma-Geddon, Heckscher Drive

by Tim Gilmore, 1/16/2015

Towers of crushed cars hiss and burble and roar and sink toward and into the earth, down into some valley of middle gravity, toward which these heaps of

Car Fire 1973

Associated Press Wire Photo

metal and smoldering seats and steering wheels and all the fingerprints and human stink boil down to a vanishing point…

up from which billow black-and-blue-gray plumes thick and poisonous into a blue sky already stripped dull to metallic gray.

And as its mountains of cars burn, Automotive Disposal Corporation at 444 Heckscher Drive prepares to seek a state “dredge and fill permit” to build a seawall out into the Trout River and fill three acres behind it with shredded metal waste from pulverized cars. Ultimately, the project is blocked by the two year-old federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Automotive Disposal Corp

Ad for Automotive Disposal Corp. from 1973 Yellow Pages

One can of paint thinner…

worked its way…

(as though the can had its own agency and will and no one else was responsible)…

into the great murderous blades of the swirling metal Charybdis…

the Industrial-Age Vagina Dentata

that ate automobiles, wholesale, and spat out their parts for recycling and resale and the creation of new land behind rip-rap seawalls.

Car Fire 1973_2

Newspapers across the nation picked up the Wire Services’ report of “The Hottest Thing on Wheels,” claiming this “60-foot hill” of cars, smashed and layered flat, exploded upward in towering columns of black clouds that hovered over Jacksonville and swirled out over swamps and expanded and dissipated finally across the peninsula and the ocean and 1974 and 1975.

But in 2015, the direst emergencies the Jacksonville Fire Museum’s official website lists for 1973 include the fire chief being “fire at [sic] by three men using a shotgun and two pistols,” and “four firefighters,” on April 27th, being “suspended for three days for having a hair style that did not conform to rules set by the Fire Department,” other devastating fires and deaths, the August 7th failure of Patricia Sheffield:

1) to be tall enough, and

2) to pass the agility test to become the city’s first woman firefighter,

then a September United States District Court ruling that the City’s fire division can set its own rules for length of hair and sideburns, and its own mustache regulations.