Monday, December 30, 2002

Crawford (Memorial) Park

As kids, we thought we lived on an island, or even better,
at the end of the world.  We were
surrounded by the Douglas (then Verdun Protestant) Hospital, the aquaduct, the
Lawrence River

First Ave. in the Bronx (LaSalle).  Our world was an amazing, endless expanse of
rabbits, snakes, tadpoles, frogs, skunks, raccoons and, if you were exceptionally
lucky, the odd scruffy urban fox. 


In the fall and winter, my father was prone to dragging us
out of our beds into the back yard to witness the northern lights.  Why he was so excited was beyond the
comprehension of my brother and myself.  At
the time, we did not know that we were witnessing what would become an elusive
vision as the lights of the city expanded and flooded our small world and the
night skies. 


Winter is the memory which I wish to share today.  Crawford Park.   
At that time, I do not know if it has been named.  However, there was a small skating rink,
complete with a wood fuelled stove in a small shack.  We always felt somewhat intimidated by the
older kids and sought to find our own place to skate.  The hospital grounds were the answer to our
However, I am off the track as this in itself is a whole other


School finished at
3:00 p.m.  Enough time to walk home, have a snack, grab
your skates and meet your friends at the skating pond.  Now, daylight ended quickly in
December/January.  In fact, it could be
very dark by
4:15 p.m.  You had no intention of returning home until
you were expected for dinner and, as you had no watch or were too young to
actually tell the time, you did not particularly care what time it was
anyway.  Your hands and feet were not yet
completely frozen and the wet snow had not penetrated your snow pants and
soaked your underwear.  That tended to
happen about
5:45 or so and
left you still another 15 minutes to get your skates off and treck back to your
house.  So, what is the memory you
say?  Well, it be this!  It was already getting dark when I arrived
with my brother and friends.  We put on
our skates and made several tours of the pond. 
All was going extremely well and laughter filled the darkening air.  All of a sudden, out of nowhere, the tip of
my right skate snubbed against something in the ice and I took a sickening fall
on my stomach, knocking the wind out of myself as I hit the ice.  Not wanting to be the cry baby of the group,
I pulled myself together and felt behind me with my hands to see what had
caused this accident.  OH MY GOD!  There, in the fast fading light of day, was a
curled up tabby cat, dead, hard as a rock and and frozen into the pond!  Loud screams filled the air as I raced to the
place where I had left my boots, my brother and friends following quick behind
as they were sure I had found a body!  I
had!  To this day, I cannot look at a
tabby cat without that terrible memory flooding my mind.  The feeling is still at my right toe today,
much like the time I, in my bare feet, stepped on the dead mouse the cat had
left in the dinning room!  Can still hear
the squish and sense the dead lump under my left arch.