The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Tales of Calvary 10- The Hatch

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Your humble narrator, amongst other failings, has a certain preference for the grandiose statuary of the late 19th and early 20th century at First Calvary Cemetery here in Queens. Baroque expressions such as these appeal to the comic book fan in me, looking for all the world like a Jack Kirby or Jim Steranko rendering. One half expects a concrete angel to… well, I stray…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The southern section of First Calvary, found atop the cyclopean masonry observed on Review Avenue, offers glimpses of the Newtown Creek and panoramic views of industrial Brooklyn. Framing the open horizon of marshy western Queens and the forges of Brooklyn is the Kosciuszko Bridge, heroically carrying a vehicular river called the Brooklyn Queens Expressway over the infamous cataract. The elevation of these walls is actually quite high, an arcing and non euclidean structure which must be 2 to 3 stories at its apogee.

Am I overestimating? Check out this shot from the “street level” declination, aimed at the downward slope from halfway down Review Ave.-

And the shots below are from the other side of it, the topside of the wall.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

You won’t find the grandiose tombs or obsequious monuments to the famous on this side of First Calvary. This is where the “regular people” are buried- in their multitudes- in neatly defined rows of plots. The northwestern sections of Calvary, where the main gates are, and the northeastern- along Laurel Hill Blvd.- (both “High Ground”) are where you can find the princes of the 19th century city. Here, along Review Avenue, is where the middle and working class rest.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

My reasons for coming to this section must remain hidden, for now, suffice to say that I am still hunting for the grave of a man named Gilman (see “Tales of Calvary 7” for more speculation on this mysterious merchant from Massachusetts). Enjoying the relative quiet, I noticed one of the concrete pillboxes which I’ve also alluded to in earlier posts. These structures are all over Calvary, are often padlocked, and have aroused no small amount of curiosity in your humble narrator.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Several conjectures -an access point to buried family mausoleums, a storage unit for groundskeepers, some sort of equipment shed- have assailed me as I observed these structures with their heavy iron lids and stout cement construction. An avid devotee of the macabre, I’ve often wondered aloud about just what is is that may be down there.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This particular structure, as you can see, had been left unlocked. In fact, its heavy lid was just resting on the cement and its hinges had long ago stopped functioning.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Nudging the lid back a few inches, a better than six foot drop was observed, which put its bottom some 4 feet below the surface as observed in the shot above. I activated the camera flash and illuminated quite a bit of airborne dust when the camera performed its intended action. As you can see, there were two modern shopping carts and part of a lamp down there. Puzzling- not for being trash, but… for… why, how, when, etc. You’d expect shovels or spades, but shopping carts and a lamp?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Were I still the youthful and robust physical specimen I once was, I might have more to say about this, as I would have entered the yawning mystery for a closer look. However, as an aged physical coward and feckless quisling given to emotional stupor and irrational panic, the miasmal odor of the open hatch drove me backwards and I nearly passed into one of my episodes. Fighting off a faint, I labored to close the heavy lid and made for the Penny Bridge gates found on Laurel Hill Blvd. to escape the implications of that smell, which reminded me of an aquarium in need of filtration.

What can it be, that might be down there?

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2 Responses

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  1. [...] Tales of Calvary 10- The Hatch [...]

  2. Please subscribe me

    Francine

    October 7, 2010 at 11:12 pm


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