Tuesday, March 20, 2007

An Architect Of Dreams

Thomas Dain was known or characterized, in various circles and at various times of his life, as:

a shy, awkward boy, unsuited to competitive sport, terrified of dancing, but not good at spelling;

a captain of industry whose name may still be found stamped into the manhole covers and storm-drain grates of the Northeast’s largest cities, carved in marble at the entrance to Chaney University’s School of Engineering, and worked in ornate, vine-choked wrought-iron at the rust-bound gates of the largest power plant (long abandoned, now a wealth of modern ruin, frequented by painters, and a popular location for shooting music videos) ever built on the Hudson River;

an environmental depletist decried for his strip mines’ systematic decimation of thousands of acres;

an unabashed romantic, and the husband, for a time, of silent film starlet Claire Cameron;

a member of the Tremont City Council, and an unsuccessful candidate for Governor of New York;

a handsome, neatly-mustachioed man with a direct, piercing gaze, who kept an apartment overlooking Central Park, and cut a dashing figure at openings, premieres, and after-parties;

a pipefitter, carpenter, and sometime mason, often seen in Tremont’s hardware stores and building supply houses wearing muddy overalls, a battered bowler, and a grizzled three-day beard;

a hard negotiator, a cheapskate, thief of millions;

a boss who, if you did your job, would leave you to it and pay on time;

a ceaseless visionary of new ventures, an inventor, the holder of numerous patents, some disputed;

an admitted eccentric, and self-styled ‘architect of dreams’, many of which proved impracticable, or defied articulation entirely, though he succeeded in realizing no few:

The best-known of these, of course, was and remains Dain’s Folly.

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