After a busy morning of running errands and Liam’s physical therapy and occupational therapy visits Karin and I decided that even though some steel gray clouds were rolling in that it was nice enough outside to take Liam for a walk. We haven’t gone for a walk in so long. We bundled him up nice and tight, hooked up the portable ventilator to the stroller, made sure we had enough oxygen in the tank, grabbed the camera and headed out into mild temps for late February. It was wonderful. A few blocks behind our house is the Little Neck Cemetery, a very small but beautiful historic cemetery. Among its residents are a passenger from the Mayflower and the first Mayor of New York City. Sitting on the hilly shoreline of Bullock Cove the water views are gorgeous. Tucked behind our quiet neighborhood the little graveyard is protected from street noise and passers-by. You really need to know how to get there in order to find this spot. You’re not going to just stumble upon it.
As a Boy Scout growing up my troop was responsible for an annual cleanup of Little Neck. We would setup grid patterns to search for litter and other debris as well as replacing all of the veterans’ flags. In a solemn ceremony involving living veterans and the local American Legion chapter we would burn the old flags after placing new ones at each marker. Although it was usually a day of hard work that would start very early on a Saturday morning I always remember having fun doing it.
As I got older and spent less and less time being active with the Boy Scouts I would still spend a good deal of time in Little Neck. In high school this was one of our favorite hang outs. Before any of us had our licenses, walking around Riverside was a summer night staple. Its proximity to our homes and its seclusion made it a prime spot for ‘hanging out’. Sometimes it was to play manhunt, and sometimes we’d bring our guitars and play, but more often than not it was a quiet place to sit under the night sky and talk about girls. I did alot of talking about girls in high school and sadly very little talking to girls. Sometimes the police would come to chase us out. This didn’t bother us that much. We would run and hide and only once can I remember being caught and yelled at. They didn’t understand us. Thinking that we were up to no good they had every right to kick us out but little did they know that we felt an odd sense of duty to the graveyard. Because of our background in Scouting my friends and I were very protective of ‘The Cem‘ as we called it. We probably chased out more kids bringing in beers and spraypaint than the cops did those three summers. The vandals gave kids like us a bad name.
I haven’t been back to The Cem since I was in high school until today. Aside from a couple of signs marking it as a historical site that weren’t there before it hasn’t changed a bit. A few of the older markers have a few more initials carved into them (bunch of savages in this town) but it is still quiet and peaceful and I was excited to show it off to Karin and Liam. I guess I still feel a strong connection to the 12 acres of hills and swamp as if it were my little secret garden to show off. I have a feeling that the route we walked today will become a routine of sorts through the spring and summer.