The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

night gaunts

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The Suydam tomb, at Greenwood Cemetery.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last Monday, Atlas Obscura produced an event at Greenwood Cemetery wherein your humble narrator would join with authors Clay Chapman and Bess Lovejoy in reading H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Horror at Red Hook” for a group of pale enthusiasts. The excursion was nocturnal, and offered cocktail selections from the East Village’s forthcoming Lovecraft Bar.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the charms of the evening, as organized by Atlas’s Megan Roberts and Allison C. Meier, was the opportunity to visit the interior of two mausolea at the ancient burying ground of Brooklyn.

One of them was the Stephen Whitney monument, which was discussed last year in the posting ” fastened ajar ” which described another nighted exploration of the place.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the thousands of cool things about Greenwood, the sets of keys which govern admission to the mausolea. More often than not, these keys are hand carved, early 19th century affairs. The sort of keys you’d see on a heavy metal album cover from the 1980’s, essentially. When they turn the bars inside the locking mechanisms of the heavy gates and slab doors, there’s an audible “klunk” sound as the lock disengages.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is happy to report that within the tomb itself, the marble slabs were indeed crusted with a powdery Nitre, and the smell of mold and decay were omnipresent but quite tolerable. Of course, the ghastly contents contained in these walls include little more than mouldering bones after their long occupancy here, but there is a distinct perfume found in old tombs – something which is sensed rather than smelled.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Suydams are one of the ancient Knickerbocker families, landed gentry whose founders helped build a Dutch colony called New Amsterdam into something. The tomb’s official dedication is to Lambert Suydam, who died on April Fools day in 1833 in his 89th year, but there are many other members of the clan here, including his wife Sarah. It is very odd to stand in a structure like this, which is just shy of 150-175 years old, and more than one person along for the excursion commented on the bizarre acoustic excesses experienced within.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Of course, a humble narrator is given to letting his mind wander, and the ideation of what might be carried by the static volume of air within the tomb began to prey upon me. Miasmic liquors would be found just beyond these marble slabs, pooling amongst those buckles and buttons and bits of bone which had survived the corruptions of the grave and persisted in perspicuous dissolution just in eyes away.

This is the kingdom of the conqueror worm, after all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My fellow narrators and I all used artificial illumination when reading our sections of the text of “The Horror at Red Hook,” and the crew of curious tapophiles which participated in the evening all carried lanterns (that’s Clay Chapman in the shot above, at the Pierpont monument). I opted to read off my iPad so that my face would be underlit and I’d look extra creepy. It was all quite an atmospheric evening, and I hope we might be able to arrange another at some future date.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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Written by Mitch Waxman

July 28, 2014 at 11:53 am

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