The oldest tree in Manhattan

New York Mysteries  April 29, 2023

A friend has a 1950s copy of a Russian film, War and Peace. It’s wonderful. When I was young I sort of read War and Peace, concentrating on the lavish parties and skipping the battles. In the film, the battles are amazing. Russian and French soldiers in natty uniforms on well trained horses raced over green fields and lakes in pursuit of each other.

The Russian spring’s birch, cherry and oak trees reminded me of the oldest living tree in Manhattan, planted in New York/  New Amsterdam in 1679.

It’s referred to as “the hanging tree” because of executions that supposedly took place. Although there are no public records confirming this, there was a nearby prison. Perhaps some of the inmates met their fate at the hanging tree.

The tree was on private land that was bought by the city and added to Washington Square in 1827. You can visit it at Washington Square Park’s northwest corner.



Years ago there was a motion to stop the MTA 8 Bus. Its route is east to west on eighth and ninth streets. The reasons given were fewer passengers. The east and west neighborhoods spoke up. Many were parents who used the bus to transport their kids back and forth from schools. It worked.

Several days ago I was on the MTA 8 Bus going west.It was about 4:30 pm, the time extra curricular activities wind down. Seated at the front of the bus across from me was a good looking man, slightly disheveled after a day’s work: rolled up white sleeves, loosened tie. Maybe 38ish? He sat with his head in his hands. On either side of him were two young boys. To the right was a six year old. To the left was a nine year old. Of course, I’m assuming these ages. The older child banged an empty plastic bottle relentlessly against the seat, keeping time by screaming. The younger child fluttered a green object and kept grabbing his father who unwound the boy from his embraces. The child made loud, guttural sounds incessantly. The father made futile attempts to calm the kids. Mostly, he sat with his head buried in his hands.

For me their anguish and suffering fenced them in. Like me, the other passengers said nothing. What was there to say? The kids were driving us nuts but we all held on to our annoyance. When they got off the bus I was relieved. What about them? Where was their relief? What’s the mother like? What’s home life like?

What would you have done?

Something Mysterious


A few weeks ago a package was delivered to my address. It was wrapped in old-fashioned khaki colored paper. I did notice that there was no return address. Hummmm…. I tore off the wrapping paper. There was a pink paper slip that was blank . More Hummmm…I found a black and white paperback, 5″ by 7″, entitled Haun Tings. The writer was Andre Le Mont Wilson, described on the back cover as a Black, queer writer. HAUNTINGS as it’s identified on the inside cover is dedicated to MOM “who told me lynching stories”.

I have asked friends, acquaintances and everybody else if he/she sent it to me. The universal answer was NO.