It Must Be The Bad Spirits

Posted on July 30, 2011


      Back in the day I lived around the corner from Everette Hodge’s funeral home.  He was the head of the Kingston NAACP and I used to visit him to help me resolve racism issues in the neighborhood.  I came to value his humor, shrewd judgement, and realistic advice.

     Years later, I was looking to buy a cheap tax sale property, and Frank Simpson tried to sell me the Hodge’s house, which had been taken for taxes.   The price was just a little more than I could swing without a mortgage, and while I was investigating getting one, the city decided to tear the building down for a community center.  I called Everette’s family in Newburgh, we picketed the construction site,  we threatened lie down in front of the bulldozers, but in the end the building came down.  I saved several pieces of the Harvest Gold aluminum siding.

     I got Peter Sinclaire, the Ulster County barn expert, to evaluated the barn on the promises, and I was able to save the barn which was a rare example of board-and-batten construction.   We watched as the little cement block building began to go up, and as construction was halted when the foundation cracked.

        And the Old Ones shook their head and they said, “I’m never going in there, whatever they build.   The spirits of all those people he laid out was in that house, and now all those spirits got no place to go, and they are gonna haunt us all..”  Somehow I believed them.

     I attended the opening festivites that feature then-first-lady-Hilary Clinton.  TR Gallo got me into the opening celebration when my press pass wouldn’t pass muster, and he reminded me he did me that favor until the day he died.

         Two decades passed, I have begun to think that those evicted spirits really are spreading bad vibrations.    First  Elder Hopgood Thompson who had grown up with the Hodge family, was evicted from her long-time position as director of the center.  The Kingston YWCA was chosen to manage the center, although it appears they are not doing any managing.

          Then the Food for Thought and Rewards for Excellence Programs that had fed two generations of Kingston children were discontinued.  I stopped attending the Heart of the Catskill Outreach because inmates doing community service were not being adequately supervised and were causing the public center to become a hostile environment.    I rescued one of the feral kittens that had become friendly with me, only to have it be put to sleep because it had both Feline Aids and Feline Leukemia, meaning that the entire colony will have to be eutheized.   Kingston’s Anima Control Officer has swung into action by hanging doorhangers.   Last thing I heard, doorhangers do nothing to prevent the contagion of thes two fatal and incurable feline diseases.

        Now it is brought to my attention that acts of serious personal theft are being perped in the center, under the protection of some of the programs using the center.   What was once a safe haven in a challenging neighborhood is becoming a haven for the very factors that are challenging the neighborhood.

    I think the Old Ones had a point.   The evicted spirits of generations of  Kingston’s black families are restless, and growing more so.  the actions of the city in changing the directorship of the center appear to have made things worse rather than better.

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