Friday, August 29, 2008

Watermelon Revelations

The other day my friend wanted to give her son a chance to learn to ride his bike without training wheels, she decided to spend the afternoon in her favorite part of the park, the slope at the foot of the Maryland Monument, which drops steeply like a sigh. So we agreed to meet there even though I had hoped that would be the day when I'd finally go to the Waterfront Museum, it's a small window of opportunity with that place since they're only open twice a week, Th 4 - 8 and Sat 1 - 5.

My friend got freaked out because someone showed up at the Monument who was able to answer my burning question about the coordinates of the watermelon patch I'm obsessed with, the one that's said to have something to do with starting the Battle of Brooklyn. She found it uncanny, but I am very used to that sort of thing. As we sat in the shade we watched a man in light summerly clothes video the monument carefully, so we knicknamed him Mr. Angle. How nice that handsome Mr. Angle was comfortable enough to amble by us and say hello, probably due to the fact that all the kids had fled to the woods by that point where they were having unavoidable encounters with poison ivy. His actual name was Charlie and he's making a documentary about amateur historians studying the Battle of Brooklyn. A sensitive soul, he didn't seem to like it when I compared the function of the Dongal Oak to the role of dead horses in Western shootouts. But while I'm remembering human casualties, why not take a second to consider all the dead horses?

Charlie hails from the land of the watermelon patch, Sunset Park around 35th and 5th Avenue. Later I read Brenda's comment about watermelons adding to the attraction of the already enticing stone bearing what was viewed as the devil's hoofprint. How nice to have my questions answered, especially since I'm starting to need bifocals and there's no telling what my eyes will refuse to read, or what my mind refuse to parse. Here's what she wrote in answer to my question:

True; according to John Gallagher's reliable book "The Battle of Brooklyn, 1776," the first skirmish of the battle occurred when a British scouting party made a nighttime raid on a watermelon patch in present-day Green-Wood Cemetery. Gallagher cites a report that it was a small local tourist attraction due to a rock with a "devil's hoofprint," and that the melons had been planted as an added lure for visitors.

It's good to start to get a handle on these things. Until then the only thing I could have said for sure is that the watermelon back then wasn't seedless. Ok, I could be wrong...

I was glad to come across Ruth Edebohl's comments on the Gowanus Lounge about the burial place of the 256 Maryland boys (here's a big smooch for each one) who took bullets to allow for the escape of many others. Last I read the mens' resting place was still unknown. She ends the piece with a mention of ghosts in the BCUE, which borders the grave. I'm so there!

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