Thursday, March 27, 2008
Bridge man demanded secret Whitman poems be published
For hours yesterday Johnny L Reed kept New Jersey and Pennsylvania Police in a standoff on the Walt Whitman Bridge creating traffic chaos throughout the region. Reed drove to the middle of the bridge and stopped his white SUV where he then exited the vehicle holding a baseball bat.
Lt. Jim Scott of the New Jersey State Police was overseeing the situation on the bridge. "I was at Arby's when I got the call." Scott says that he frequents the restaurant at least twice during the week and twice during the weekend. "He was demanding that the lost or secret poems of Walt Whitman be made public to... the public," said Scott.
Reed is a Whitman super-fan and historian and recently discovered that up to 40 poems of the great poet were never published. When Kyle Whitman, relative and poet, refused Reed access to the "secret poems" he drove to the bridge.
"He was yelling poetry at the vehicles that passed by him on the bridge. He was holding a bat and took swings at a few passing cars. He also tried to bunt a motorcycle," said Scott.
Whitman died in 1892 at age 72 in Camden, NJ. The bridge was named for Whitman because of his 1879 poem titled "Bridge Over Delaware." The poem describes a grand suspension bridge that will "bring keystones to gardens and gardens to keystones."