The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

awful formula

with 12 comments

Bridge2bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been spending quite a bit of time around the fabled Newtown Creek since the first of the year, after suffering through months of broken big toe infirmity and de facto isolation, and shots of the type above – depicting the new Kosciuszcko Bridge from alongside the fenceline at First Calvary Cemetery – have been gathered, but recent endeavor found this particular troll underneath a completely different bridge.

Temperature inversions usually bring fog as well as rain, both of which can either enhance or eviscerate photographic opportunity. Not having quite enough time during a recent foggy episode to head down south to my beloved Newtown Creek, one instead found himself pedantically scuttling northwards.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Astoria Park offers gorgeous views of both the Hell Gate and Triborough Bridges, but the winter time opportunity for me involves finding ways to incorporate its skeletal trees into the shot, to act as a frame for the mighty spans. I love me a creepy looking tree, I do.

This was a shot of opportunity, as in it wasn’t “intentional,” rather it just popped up at me while I was wandering past. Weirdly enough, despite the February cold and damp, people were running the track and doing all sorts of exercising. Freaks.

Since I set the standard for sanity in this world, just like Caligula did in his day, I say that the only logical pursuit on an evening like this would be listening to Black Sabbath’s entire discography on shuffle while carrying around a camera and tripod and trying not to fall into the East River.

I have spoken.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I had to walk in gooey mud for this one, so for those of you who like this shot, part of its journey to you involved me having to first break out a broom and then a vacuum to clean up the mud which I accidentally tracked back into the house upon returning to HQ. Yuck.

Unfortunately, the fog on this particular evening wasn’t quite the “pea soup” that I was hoping for. There’s definitely a bunch of moisture hanging in the air, but it was nowhere near as opaque as I wished it to be.


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In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

12 Responses

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  1. Dear Mitch……once again Your excellent website found itself into my personal experiences of life! This particular shot of the “K” Bridge Approach and the Calvary Cemetery brings back so many memories. We have family buried not too far from this particular site which we visit often and have been doing so for the past nearly 75 years.
    Before retirement in 2017, I worked on the construction of the “K” Bridge and was involved in producing the Drawings for the demolition of the old Bridge’s massive concrete piers, the removal of the former pedestrian overpasses by crane lift and the installation of a temporary bridge of the LIRR over critical pipelines. Under the “K” Bridge, excavation for the new box sewer “Vortex” (which is a modern method of cleaning and trapping oil, trash and sediments in a ‘swirling’ motion prior to discharging the storm water) was a daunting task. The work required some pretty tricky engineering to get a crane into that location with limited height and reach clearances.

    I remember during the construction of the New “K” Bridge, we had to remove the 1st segment of fascia steel of the existing truss span. It was like a ‘death-knell’ to this majestic and historical structure which was to be followed several years later by its complete “implosion”. (A striking surprise to me, who expected the systematic lowering, cutting and removal of each existing approach truss span). The Time-Saving operation
    conceived after I retired, sped up the whole demo process, to clear the way for the 2nd new Bridge and is available on You-Tube to marvel at.

    Our construction company H.Q. and Yard was formerly located on 54th Road and 48th Street and we bid and built much of the local infrastructure of the LIE and BQE through Calvary Cemetery and the local area which I recently learned from You was the “Bliss” Community. I commuted to work nearly every day on the Long Island City branch of the LIRR, getting off the train at “Haberman”. Haberman was not a station, but a ‘stop’ in the street a short distance from the foot of 48th Street. The LIRR ran one train from Jamaica in the Morning, and two trains (5:02 and 5:32) in the evening. You had better catch at least one of them or you would be ‘stranded in no-man’s land’ waiting for a bus to Woodside (which never came). A horriffic experience on a cold, dark winter night. This train travelled through the Freight Yards, the Junk Yards, the Back Yards and the Grave Yards. One day we hit a bump and got ‘uncoupled’…….the engine continued on unaware that we weren’t there. 10 minutes later, it backed up to us with a crew of very embarrassed trainmen. Another time, a Gondola car broke away from it’s tow train along a siding in an adjacent freight yard and was moving toward our train. I watched in horror, expecting to get ‘broad-sided’ but Thank God the ‘derailer’ on the spur track did its job and the gondola ‘bounced along the ties’ stopping just before a collision. The few passengers in that car, their heads buried in their newspapers were oblivious of the near catastrophe.

    I can remember rushing down 48th Street at the end of the day, and ‘dodging’ across the tracks at the last minute to catch the 5:02PM to Jamaica. One evening a sudden rainstorm flooded the entire 48th street area (adjacent to the current UPS location). We called this standing body of water “Lake Maspeth”. I was able to hear the ‘toot’ of the approaching train, and I was forced to climb an embankment with the handle of my briefcase in my mouth and go ‘hand-over-hand’ along a chain link fence to get back onto 48th Street, and dodge across the tracks just in front of the approaching Diesel Locomotive. I had nightmares of a ‘Big Yellow Train’ bearing down on me that night.

    Finally, I was teaching an evening Bridge Inspection Class at BOCES in Dix Hills. Along the way somewhere near Fresh Pond (I think), a Crane was lifting a Plate Girder of an Overpass that was being demolished which crossed the Tracks. The boom of the crane buckled and dropped the Girder on the Track, forcing us to get off the train and get a ride to Jamaica. Naturally, I had to find a phone booth, call and cancel the class. It was an interesting story for the next class, however.

    There is a history spanning 45 years in this neighborhood, Mitch. I hope I didn’t bore anyone with these events…….I apologize if I did. But these were days of my life in this Neighborhood that You’ve excellently researched, photographed and write about.

    As I said……Your Website is a TREASURE.

    Thanks Again……Bobby bridgeman

    bobbybridgeman

    March 2, 2020 at 7:49 pm

    • Bobby, keep the stories coming. Please.

      Mitch Waxman

      March 2, 2020 at 7:54 pm

      • Mitch…..when I was an infant, my Dad would drive to Cavalry from our apartment in Harlem with me and my brother Rich to visit His parents’ grave. He would bend over and kiss the picture of my Grandmother on their tombstone, which I learned to do. When I got older, I asked my dad “what that big green bridge” was in the background. I knew all the other bridges across the East River but never heard of “Newtown Creek”. He told me the name then, but I forgot. Still…..I was fascinated with that enormous green bridge. As I grew older I realized my love for bridges as my Dad and I discussed all the Great Ones on the East River. I remember the trolleys on the Queensborough,(opened in 1909, the year of my Dad’s birth). I remember the day when we were exiting the Queensborough in Manhattan where the Trolley Track enters the underground station. The exit ramp had to cross the track and as we go onto the track, the traffic light changed and traffic stalled, leaving us stuck. A Trolley came by and had to stop for us. The Motorman got irritated and started clanging His bell at my Dad….who really couldn’t move. There was an argument until the light changed and we got going, the Trolley disappearing into the station. I was fascinated by the Elevator down to Welfare Island . I remember the construction of Othmar Amman’s Randalls Island Pedestrian Lift Bridge. He called it His “Little Green Bridge”. My Dad was a Demolition Contractor, and His travels with me tagging along took us to different parts of the Cavalry Cemetery (Blissville) Area. I remember one trip when we were still living in Harlem, right after a Hurricane, we went to see a Swing Bridge that was severely damaged. (This was a larger challenge than Dad normally handled). I was amazed to see what might have been the Grand Avenue Bridge….(or perhaps an older similar one, now long since removed) tilting off its Rest Pier into the water! I was totally shocked to see this ‘Silver Swing Bridge’ damaged like that. I remember walking across the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge and studying the details of the railings and the catenary towers and trackage below. I remember crossing all the bridges over Sunnyside Yard…..hoping to see a “Railroad Crossing” of which actually at least one existed crossing the great expanse of trackage of the Yard. Little did I know that all these sights and experiences would later play a significant part of my life……again…..summarized in the Photos You have taken. Each of Your Posts brings back new memories, Mitch. Perhaps I can grasp more of them.
        Thanks yet again……Bobby bridgeman

        bobbybridgeman

        March 3, 2020 at 2:04 am

  2. Dear Mitch……in order not to have anyone “scratching their heads” as to the meaning and implications of my above letter, allow me to explain the tie-ins to NewTown Creek, Cavalry Cemetery and Sunnyside Yard.
    In addition, as to Your request regarding the Hellgate Bridge and channel below, and finally an explanation of the Orthodox Priest as all relate to my personal experiences, please bear with me patiently.

    I mentioned that I was employed by a Heavy Construction Contractor on 54th Road, around 48th Street in Maspeth, and this was after my employment with 2 Consulting Engineering Firms, the latest of which designed many of the local Bascule Bridges and rehabilitation efforts of others. In my interest of Bridges, I had visited many structures while growing up and had accumulated a Library and took pictures (a far cry from Yours, Mitch….which are outstanding). By this time I had gained experience in the Field as an Inspector and Structural Draftsman. As it came to pass, my Dad had passed away, joining my Mom in Cavalry Cemetery….only a few short blocks from my job in Maspeth. I was able to walk at lunchtime to their graves, and ‘kiss the picture of my Grandmother’ who reposed along with them and pray for all the deceased.

    My ‘bridge-curiosity” as a child bore fruit as we built the new Hunter’s Point and Thompson Avenue Bridges over Sunnyside Yard. Construction Details that I viewed as a child were remembered, as well as the history for these structures (including the demolition and re-construction of the Flushing River Bridge and the Inspection and Rehabilitation of the #7 Line El along with the Woodside Station) which we worked on. As these projects progressed, the Sights, Sounds and Smells of Maspeth manifested themselves to us every day. The Van Iderstine fat rendering plant ‘scented’ the entire neighborhood with the ‘smell of something cooking’. Upon concentration, it was found to be ‘gross’. Some of our workers mentioned that while building a sewer line on Review Avenue alongside NewTown Creek, they observed a large flat-bed trailer pass with a dead elephant loaded aboard headed for its ‘last show’ at Van Iderstine.

    The sounds of heavy traffic from the L.I.E. and the cacophony of construction equipment from our yard, punctuated by the ‘Toot’ of the freight trains passing through the “Haberman” Crossing on the Long Island City Line, was joined by the roar of the Jet Liners making their final approach to LaGuardia. The neighborhood around Cavalry Cemetery gradually ‘built up’, and new structures rose one after another….after years of dormancy. I remember one Friday afternoon at about 4:30PM when we heard a
    “deafening roar”. A new, large warehouse building on 48th Street, right across the Street from our office was under construction. The brickwork was done, and the supporting scaffolding had just been removed to prepare for the erection of the steel roof trusses on Monday morning. The noise sounded like an earthquake and my suspicions were confirmed. The building had collapsed, throwing cinder blocks and bricks across the street through the windows of parked cars. It is a miracle that no one was killed. The small house next door….where we watched the family’s young children play was spared as the building fell inward at that corner. It took me literally one-half hour to get a response when I called 911 at this ‘change of shifts’ time.

    The saga goes on…….and leads to Astoria, the Kosciuszko and the Hell Gate Bridges.
    There is an unexpected twist…….maybe one to challenge Your Faith and Belief.

    Thanks so much Mitch for the beautiful shots which draw these memories out of my mind.

    Bobby bridgeman

    bobbybridgeman

    March 3, 2020 at 6:35 pm

  3. Mitch……Your detailed shots of the Hell Gate and Triborough Bridges are worthy of a “Bridge Inspector’s Record Collection”, and Your Articles left nothing uncovered. I am going to continue with this series of dialogues in order to ‘lay the foundation’ of a remarkable phenomenon, which may explain the actions of Your Orthodox Priest…….for which You have asked. I hope Your readers will bear with me

    Following my Father’s passing and Interment in Cavalry, through the actions of Faith and Prayer we, my wife and son found ourselves drawn back to our Roman Catholic Religion as I brought my son to religious instruction to receive his “sacraments” of Holy Communion and Confirmation. His Baptism as an infant was done in a private, emergency situation prior to surgery for a stomach condition We had been ‘lapse’ in going to church, and I felt it was my duty to place him in this class….at this older age, as we ourselves were being ‘drawn’ again to our Faith.

    My sister called me one day in July of 1990 and told me that she was going to an “Apparition Site” outside of New Orleans for a weekend on the 14th and 15th of August, and if we’d like to go also. I thought to myself….New Orleans! Jazz….Trolley Cars……The Greater New Orleans, Luling and Huey P. Long Bridges!
    Wow! And by the way…….what is an “Apparition Site”? My sister explained that Mary…..the Holy Mother of Jesus Christ was appearing at a field in a place called “Tickfaw” Louisiana, and Mystical things were happening there. People were experiencing remarkable phenomena and healings were taking place!

    I was floored. I asked….”She does this”? Then I remembered the movie I had seen many years earlier called “Miracle at Fatima”, where in 1917 over 70 thousand people witnessed a miracle of the sun, were dried instantly of soaked clothing from a torrential rainstorm and some were healed of terminal Illness.
    The sun plummeted toward the earth and people thought it was the “end of the world”. This was broadcast all over Europe. This whole event was preceded by three children in Fatima, Portugal receiving Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary who said that She would produce a Miracle. This is for the purpose of bringing people back to God…..during this time of War….(WW1).

    I had never thought about or pursued anything along these lines, and nothing was taught about it in regular church instruction. But I felt something Impending was going to happen. My wife and myself went to church and received what we as Catholics (and Orthodox) know as the Sacrament of Reconciliation, or “Confession”. My thought was that if ‘something happens to someone’ on this field, I want to be in Good Spiritual Standing, and I would be honored to be there! My enthusiasm grew each day to the point where I prepared a petition of lined, Petition sheets for people to fill out to bring with me there, with the exclamation;
    “I’m going to an Apparition Site of the Blessed Virgin Mary….do you want me to leave your Petition there”?

    Every single line of every page was filled without question! My co-workers left their hearts in those pages with complete hope and confidence!

    The Trip was a resounding success, with multiple people experiencing healings, consolations and witnessing mystical phenomena! We, ourselves were touched and amazed as “holy things began to manifest themselves in our lives”. This drew us even closer to the Faith, and opened our eyes to Miracles, Mystical Phenomena and “Signal Graces”. One type of “Miracle” is the event of the Weeping Icons of Mary, who is known as the “Theotokos”….”The Bearer of Christ” by the Greek Orthodox Community. In Astoria, there have been several instances of “Tearing Icons of the Theotokos”. The substance secreted by these special Icons is mystical in origin, usually a beautifully fragrant oil, and often induces peace, healing and consolation. Terminal Cancer patients have been healed…..the list goes on, and this and other phenomenon occur all over the world. The good news is that no one is excluded who pray in Faith. These events are evidence of the presence of God….who loves each and every one of His Children, who sends
    Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ…..who was a devout Jew, as were Her Parents Anne and Joachim of the Holy Hebrew “Essene” tribe, and who claims….”I am of the Jewish People”, and those special individuals who led holy lives and had mystical graces to work miracles….known as “Saints”. This includes the Prophets of the Jewish Faith whose Miracles in God’s Presence are known and studied.

    As our prayer life increased and developed, our prayers with our Jewish and even Muslim friends brought healings and consolations. When we are privileged to actually receive the Holy Tears ourselves, we use them to bless the sick. Only God, Himself knows who will be healed….that is His doing according to His Will.

    We have been taught to pray for the Dead so they may be “loosed from sin”. We are told that to do so incurs great graces for ourselves in God’s sight. We have been taught of Power of Prayer, and that as God exists, so does His….’adversary’, who is the ancient enemy of mankind and whose army of fallen and condemned angels and souls are resentful and hateful and want to deprive us all of our Eternal Presence with God by disobeying His Commands as set forth to us by Moses. We have HOPE for Eternal Life and believe in the Christian Faith, and I’m sure our devout Jewish Brothers believe and Hope as well, as God
    knows our individual traditions to Honor Him.

    We specifically believe and were told by “Theotokos” that those who have died and are waiting to go to
    Heaven but are being held for a time will benefit for prayers said for them. They cannot pray for themselves, but can pray for us. We make it a habit and are ‘drawn’ to certain graves in the cemeteries of those who we ‘sense’ might need prayer. This we do periodically in Calvary…..thus overcoming the horror, despair and hopelessness of death of the many thousands who repose there and instill Hope for their living relatives. We believe that Christ’s Death and Resurrection has Conquered Death and opened the Gates of Heaven for All who believe and follow God. This whole concept is celebrated now in this Lenten, Easter Season.

    It is the duty for God’s Priests to constantly Pray against the ‘Adversary’ who can manifest itself in fire, the air or water. There is a yearly Greek Orthodox Rite called the “Blessing of the Waters” to purify them of any evil. This is done by Tossing a Blessed Cross on a Rope into the waters while reciting an Ancient Prayer.
    This can be done at any other time as well, using the same formula, by a Holy Priest.

    Mitch….If You don’t think that the “Hellgate” with the horrendous loss of life in its past and the manifestation of evil in the area isn’t a perfect candidate for this Blessing of Exorcism then I’m at a loss of what to say.

    YOUR ORTHODOX PRIEST WAS BLESSING THE WATERS AS DESCRIBED ABOVE, IN HIS DUTIFUL AND HOLY WAY! Many People have ‘fallen away’ from the Church and simply do not know or understand this, and it will take more than a ‘shot of booze’ to get them back on the right track.

    I realized that it took quite a bit of verbiage to get to this point, but there simply isn’t a quick way to explain.

    Subsequent to our visit to the Apparition at Tickfaw, we also visited the one in Medjugorje, Croatia and the one in Betania, Venezuela, where we met the (Late) Holy Mystic and Stigmatic who we pray will one day be
    Beatified and Canonized as a Saint. These are the Holy processes to Sainthood. I want to mention that there were hundreds of pairs of crutches of people who came with them, and left without them…..on their own power. Mary, Our Holy Mother actually spoke to the Mystic and told Her to tell us;

    “MY CHILDREN…..WHEN YOU SPEAK OF US, THE HOLIES……YOU WILL BE BELIEVED”.

    This came through the woman whose children came home from school and found Her levitating off the floor.

    I want to add that while there, I had the privilege of Inspecting the Shrine’s Steel Bridges which cross the stream which was Blessed by Holy Mary, and the water of that stream has been a source of healing for those who were blessed with or drank it.

    It is sad that with the Existing Political Situation in Venezuela and our Mystical sister’s passing after having to leave Venezuela……access to this Holy site is not possible to us. But there are other sites throughout the world.

    As a closing note, prior to our bid for the construction of the Kosciusko Bridge, I visited Calvary Cemetery to the graves of our relatives and those for whom I routinely visited and asked for their prayerful intercession that we win the job. Visits to their graves were at times accompanied by ‘mystical fragrances’ and even at one time the fragrance of…..”confectioner’s candy”.

    Can I add that We got the Job for the bridge which crosses virtually adjacent to the cemetery?

    Our experiences have destroyed the horror of death and give hope for those interred for their rising and Eternal Peace……and for their loved ones who grieve for them.

    Eye has not seen, nor Ear has not heard what God has ready for those who Love Him. I’m not a Preacher…
    I’m a Witness!

    Bobby bridgeman

    bobbybridgeman

    March 4, 2020 at 2:16 am

  4. Bobby, when the Tearing Icons of the Theodokos cures a terminally ill person from a disease, what does that person then die from? Can’t live forever, no? How does this all work?.

    georgetheatheist . . . gotta know

    March 4, 2020 at 11:41 am

    • George….when a person is cured, they live out their life according to the time that God sets for them.

      Hopefully, they will use this time to sanctify themselves by living the Gospel in their daily lives…..and by this outreach bring holiness into their lives and that of others. It is a time to be loving and caring of others, engaging in prayer…..which is Your personal communication with God…..who knows Your mind and Your heart, who sees your deeds and knows Your pain.

      Realize that ‘life’ as we know it here on earth is temporary and finite. The life that we are seeking is the Eternal Life in the Presence of God, where even imagination cannot comprehend its beauty. ‘Life therefore is getting the qualifications’ to be accepted……doing the best that you can, being sorry for the bad things that you may have done…….and forgiving others who have done bad things to you. I mentioned “Theotokos” many times. She was given an enormous privilege to bear the Son of God in Her Womb. She would like nothing better than to be Your Mother as well. Pray to Her for the assistance that You might need to know what to do to be Holy in the sight of God.

      George……I don’t think that You’re going to be an Atheist very much longer. Rather, I think that You are going to experience a most profound Joy, Hope and Consolation in God’s Holy Light……which when developed within Your soul will lead to Your Eternal Life!

      God Bless You!

      Bobby bridgeman

      bobbybridgeman

      March 4, 2020 at 6:37 pm

      • Thanks, Bobby . You are sure upbeat. If there is Eternal Life, I hope Mitch and maybe most of the readers get to have it. There’s the scenario that when the atheist is at the Pearly Gates, St. Peter says”See, you were wrong, but you can come in anyway.” That would be nice, no? Or how about the scenario that only the atheists are let in and all the believers are reincarnated and go back to square one? Love reading your musings on the Old Days. Fare thee well, Bobby.

        georgetheatheist . . . lux fiat

        March 5, 2020 at 4:58 pm

  5. George…..It was in fact, Mitch’s wonderful photos that opened the ‘rusted strong box’ of my mind. Most of the memories are happy ones…….but as You know, Life is not a complete “joy ride”. However, we DO have the Consolation of Jesus who has said (in the context of my Christian Faith) “Take up your cross and follow Me…..for My Yoke is sweet and My burden is light……

    You might not know it yet, George……but a ‘mystical event’…..a prayer answered for You has already been granted.

    During the Roman Catholic Mass, at it’s most sanctified part…..the Elevation of the Eucharist….which is the Newly Transfigured Body of Christ……You have been Prayed For! Theotokos Herself has inspired it.

    Peace, Love and JOY George!

    Bobby bridgeman

    bobbybridgeman

    March 6, 2020 at 11:20 am

    • Thanks, Bobby! The future has yet to be written.

      georgetheatheist . . .

      March 6, 2020 at 1:31 pm

  6. Thanks, Bobby.

    georgetheatheist . .

    March 6, 2020 at 1:32 pm

  7. Thanks, bobby. The future has yet to be written.

    georgetheatheist . . . lux fiat

    March 6, 2020 at 1:32 pm


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