Recently, people have been asking if I do any research before visiting these various and varied neighborhoods. The short answer: No. I find it far more interesting to enter a place without any foreknowledge. And so, ignorant with open eyes, I disembarked the bus, you know, wherever on City Island.
In the time that it took to solve the algebraic equation of public transportation necessary to get to this little isle off the Bronx coast (F to the L to the 4 to the BX-29 = 2.5 hours), I could have flown to Florida. That being said, City Island somewhat resembles the sunshine state and I headed down to the beach, a mere 2 blocks away. In fact , where I got off, the island was a whole 3 blocks wide, which makes one wonder if the inhabitants are at all worried about rising sea levels. But we’ll save that conversation for another day and just enjoy the view for now.
To be honest, I don’t really like the beach. Besides the sand factor, there’s a lot of pressure to “enjoy” oneself and to “relax.” Trying to relax stresses me out, so I spent only enough time there to really start yearning for pavement, all of about 3 minutes.
Walking the streets of City Island a single word came to mind : Cute. Everything is cute and/or cute-cute, sometimes even, regrettably, cutesy. Take for instance, this house:
Finally we have cutesy:
hmm… lawn ornament deer reclining beneath a flowery tree. But wait, what’s that behind it? Pink Flamingos. Right. However, we should at least be a little thankful to City Island. After all, how many times do you get the opportunity to say, “Aw, isn’t that cute?” in New York City? NEVER. Except for on City Island, and sometimes, even cutesy is kind of nice.
Still, a little bit goes a long way, so thankfully, I happened upon a graveyard before my eyes glazed over with honey.
Now, while all these people may be dead, there’s nothing like seeing the span of a lifetime in two numbers and a dash to remind you of how long life can be. This couple for example
lived through both World Wars, the majority of the Cold War, Vaudeville, Elvis, the 60s, and Depeche Mode. That is a lot of life, to say the least.
But reveling in the strange beauty of life and death as we know them was not the only point of interest in this place of rest. Like any halfway decent graveyard, this one had its mysteries and many of its headstones bore the ominous sign of the Freemasons:
Not just for gravestones, later on I saw this famously infamous sign on the sides of buildings and on the lapel of a jacket I almost bought at a yard sale. (It was a little too big.) I had to uncover this clandestine mystery so close to the shores of the center of American finance and culture. What scandalous plan could they be hatching? Is our very way of life at stake, held in the hands of this uber-secret society? For answers, I went straight to the source – www.bronxmasons.com, their website and clicked on the “Got Questions?” link. As if to beguile the viewer, their website is pretty poorly designed and hard to read. Also, the writing isn’t that good, I mean, the writing is cryptic! But as far as I can tell, some fishermen and sailors got together in 1918 and started a Lodge to take care of member’s widows, orphans, and business interests. But when I clicked on “Famous Masons part 1” I received the enigmatic message: “404 Not Found, sorry but the content you request could not be found.” I suppose it should have come as no surprise that these cloak-and-dagger cultists should keep their hand close. Well, score one for the City Island Freemason’s – but I’ll be back!
Later this week: the original Trader Joe. Rest assured, he doesn’t sell organic snacks and moderately priced hormone free meats.