Monday, December 08, 2008

A Peach Tree Grows in Greenpoint

Back in January of 1998, my best friend, C. and I moved into a ground floor apartment at 209 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  I recalled many experiences in that neighborhood today as I read an article in the Times about chemicals seeping into homes in the neighborhood.  When we took the apartment in 98' we were mystified by having a fully grown peach tree in our backyard.  I even think the broker pointed it out to us in January.  It was a huge plus for an $800 shithole with a brown tiled bathroom accompanied by green ceramics.  Then the summer came.  My God!  Fruit!  Pink. Juicy. Edible?  On the first of every month our landlord, a hulking, limping man, would come to collect the rent.  We asked him about the tree and the sweet fruit enticing us on a daily basis.  He made us aware of the enormous oil spills underneath the neighborhood and said he had never, ever, not even once, truly considered eating one due to that.  
It was torturous to have to watch piece after piece fall of the tree and rot.  The bees came a lot that summer, as did some rats to feast on some cancerous fruit.  You couldn't tell, though, which is what made the ordeal so deceptive.  They looked great.  The backyard was shielded from truck soot on busy Kingsland Avenue by a large public school with an enormous playground. 
So, now in 2008, a little over a decade later, people are discovering there is a lot more to deal with in Greenpoint than just an oil spill that was by far larger than Valdez.  Dry cleaning chemicals and automotive waste is drifting up from the ground as well.  Scary stuff.  People are fearful their property values will drop substantially if they allow testing on their homes and chemical vapors are found. 
Back in 98, we took the apartment partially out of desperation for badly needing a place to live and it was a two bedroom for less than a grand.  We could deal with the oil spill, tolerate it  because we were really young, and shit it was part of the charm of living in the "industrial" section of the neighborhood.  Not sure if I'd do it again.

1 comment:

Jill said...

The bathroom at that apartment was so gross. And didn't you have to climb out the window in C's room to get to the backyard?