Tag Archives: East New York

4: A True Story

On a very early morning sometime in late May , I decided to mount my horse Natalie for my favorite ride: the early sunrise ride. I started off by heading South West, down Chauncey Street along the rows of empty houses and then turned eastwards onto Bushwick Avenue. I could feel Natalie as excited as I was, with the sun rising in front of us, and nothing else against the blue sky except for the ruins of the old Delek petrol station in the distance.

We kept going slightly uphill, to where the old road layout fades into the forrest area to the North. After riding without much sense of direction through the woods for a while, we came out onto what I believe was Jamaica Avenue and then into Linwood Street. A bit further down, at the crossing with Fulton Street, I instinctively pushed my legs together, as there were people observing us from the highline above us. Natalie sped up for a bit, but quickly slowed down, as she knew that she had to save energy for what was about to come.

Turning westwards we started gathering pace again, making full use of the wide and open track of Atlantic Avenue. The chimney of the old big brick building was coming closer as we were galloping at full speed, then past the chimney and the Mc Donald’s totem straight after. We sped across Vermont Street, where we finally started slowing down in anticipation of the uneven terrain ahead of us. My general aim were the old railway tracks around East New York station, but as always, passing the ruins of the LIRR Substation 2 marked the entry into true wilderness.

I’ve got lost in this area many a time before. It is a tricky terrain, with all the water that continues to flood into it through the broken New York City Water Tunnel No. 3, somewhere in Bedford-Stuyvesant. It is beautiful, with the rich vegetation that all the water brings, and dangerous at the same time, because of the swamps and mires, as well as the unstable ruins that clutter the area. And, one can get lost easily.

The last thing I recognized was the abandoned platform near East New York station. After that we were heading, I think, West somewhere along Pacific Street. Nathalie was very nervous and I should have trusted her instinct, but my curiosity got the better of me. At one point, I saw a big, solitary wall, partially overgrown, surrounded by dense thickets and trees. I could see through the windows of the wall, with what must have been the inside of a house facing me. But what triggered my curiosity was an old frame hanging next to one of the windows. There was still a picture inside the frame, but I could not make out what it depicted.

Nathalie and I were standing, overlooking the mire between us and the picture on the wall. I gave her a gentle squeeze with my legs. She resisted at first, but knew that I wouldn’t give up. Suddenly, she neighed, with a real sense of dismissal, and turned around. For a moment I thought she was disobeying my orders, when in fact she knew that we could make it only with enough speed before the jump. I told her to stop and turn around when we had enough distance. After a moment of concentration, we went into full speed and then Nathalie, without even my doing, made a great leap, trying to bridge the most swampy part of the area. We landed, and at first it all seemed fine. Yet with each step we were less able to move, until we finally got stuck and found ourselves quickly sinking deeper. Nathalie remained strangely calm, but I started panicking. Before long, we were stuck in the mire, both up to our necks. I looked up in panic and just when I saw the picture in front of me, I forced my right arm out of the mud. Grabbing my own hair, while keeping a strong grip around Nathalie, I pulled myself, and Nathalie, out of the mire.