August 7, 2016

Petite Meets Street: Nurses' Rounds in New York City Join Carole Ann Moleti



The last few times I had the honor of posting about New York I focused on the more rural upstate regions. This time, I've decided to take you on a tour of an often-misunderstood part of New York City's five boroughs: The Bronx, my hometown.  

The borough bears little resemblance to the area named after Jonas Bronck, who settled in what is now the Mott Haven section just off the East River circa 1640. Hence the capitalization, since it was said one was going to The Broncks' (meaning a bucolic, riverside cabin and surrounding farmland and forest).

Beautiful WPA murals adorn the walls of the former Dollar Saving Bank (now Apple Bank) in Parkchester, one of which depicts the signing of a 1642 peace treaty at Bronck's homestead between Dutch authorities and the Weckquaeskeek Sachems, Ranaqua, and Tackamuck Native Americans. One only has to stroll through some of the borough's many parks, such as Shoelace Park along the Bronx River, to recreate how it once looked.


 
According to Wikipedia, Bronck's River, splits the modern borough in two. The extension of the Number 6 subway in the early twentieth century spurred rapid development. Immigrants moved uptown and made themselves comfortable surrounded by those who spoke their languages, sold familiar foods, and continued traditions and customs. Vestiges remain such as Little Italy of The Bronx on Arthur Avenue, and the largely Puerto Rican and Dominican neighborhoods in the South Bronx that abut Spanish Harlem across the river in Upper Manhattan.

In the 1960's, over development turned large sections of The Bronx from a rural escape for New Yorkers fleeing the tenements of lower Manhattan and Brooklyn into a ravaged wasteland. The infamous city planner Robert Moses, who many credit with the destruction of the borough, used eminent domain to forcibly remove thousands of residents from their homes to build roads and bridges that carved neighborhoods into pieces, preventing easy passage along major thoroughfares.

An epidemic of arson in the 1970s and 1980s, perpetrated by landlords faced with empty apartments, crumbling buildings, lower property values, and too few tenants resulted in soot blackened hulks of buildings that stretched for blocks and blocks interspersed with rubble strewn lots home to more stray dogs and cats then people. It was then that I began my career as a nurse and midwife in the very same neighborhood that my great-grandmother practiced as a home birth midwife circa 1911.

These days, I make my rounds between two points along streetscapes cluttered with cars on the sidewalks awaiting body work, junk yard dogs, graffiti and gang signals, under the NYC oxymoron: elevated subway tracks (The "El"). My heart smiles when the trains clatter by, steel wheels screeching. I recall being in my grandparent's third floor railroad apartment, eye level with the tracks, watching sparks fly in the night like shooting stars. City kids grow up with noise and grit and grime; it seeps into our bodies, we breathe it deep into our lungs, and it changes the way we view life. I love being out and about, and no matter where else I have lived or worked, always find my way back to the old neighborhoods where happy memories linger on every street corner.

The smell of curry and kabobs is in the air. I buy fruit from Green Carts to take home to my family. I speak Spanish, understand French and Haitian Creole, and marvel in the colors of beautifully draped saris and African tribal dress. There are bright smiles, loud horns, and way too much traffic in the teeming streets lined with vendors. Instead of blackened shells with flowerpots painted on the boarded up windows that sanitized the situation, refurbished pre war buildings and newer, homestead housing are proudly maintained.

Fort Apache, the police station that once stood alone amidst rubble-strewn lots, is now surrounded by single-family homes on tree lined streets. In the summer, tar beaches spring up around local fire hydrants.

Insert Images of Fort Apache and kids under the fire hydrants.

From this, I unearth ample story ideas for my memoirs and urban fantasies. The Ultimate Test is a mélange of real life stories with a magical twist. Excerpts of my novel Boulevard of Bad Spells and Broken Dreams have been featured in Seers: Ten Tales of Clairvoyance and Beltane: Ten Tales of Magic. Segments of my memoir, which chronicles my career as a public health professional in The Bronx, Harlem and Washington Heights, have appeared in This Path, and two volumes of the Thanksgiving to Christmas anthologies. 
For some free reads check out Concrete  http://www.noneuclideancafe.com/issues/vol3_issue2_WinterSpring2008/moleti.htm

Going on Pointe  http://www.noneuclideancafe.com/issues/vol2_issue4_Summer2007/moleti.htm



Carole Ann Moleti lives and works as a nurse-midwife in New York City, thus explaining her fascination with all things paranormal, urban fantasy, and space opera. Her nonfiction focuses on health care, politics, and women's issues. But her first love is writing science fiction and fantasy because walking through walls is less painful than running into them.

Carole's work has appeared in a variety of literary and speculative fiction venues. The first two books in her Unfinished Business series of paranormal romances are now available, and the third is forthcoming. Her urban fantasy short stories are featured in several of the Ten Tales anthologies.

Carol offers an ebook copy of either her urban fantasy short  The Ultimate Test or a Ten Tales anthology that features her stories (winner's choice). Comment here for a chance to win. 
Excerpts of Carole's memoir, Someday I'm Going to Write a Book: Diary of an Urban Missionary range from the sweet and inspirational in the award winning Shifts Anthology   https://www.amazon.com/Shifts-Anthology-Womens-Growth-Through/dp/0989960919A Quilt of Holidays to the edgy and irreverent in Not Your Mother's Book: On Being a Woman.

Amazon Author Page Link:
(Info provided by author)

8 comments:

Linda Swift said...

Carole, I found this post extremely interesting and inspiring. You are obviously a lady with a deep commitment to other people, a loyalty to your roots, and a profession that is essential. And in addition to meeting the physical needs of many, you are also a talented writer who offers something to meet the emotional needs of them as well. I wish you many years of fulfillment ahead in both of your chosen fields.
Linda Swift


Fran Orenstein said...

No It's MY BRONX. I grew up on Walton Ave & 166th St. Now the apartment building is gone, a parking lot instead, and across the street is a rubbish strewn vacant lot. They even took away MY YANKEE STADIUM. Oh, Mickey M., you must be rolling over. Thank you for the update, and the world you now wander through. I'm happy Fort Apache is making a come back, but I'm sad that the splendor that was once the borough nobody ever visited because you needed a passport to cross the Manhattan Bridge from Brooklyn (where I was born)has fallen on such hard times. Life in Brooklyn circa the 1940s, 50s and 60s was special, but The Bronx was definitely DA Bronx. It was the gateway to beautiful Westchester and Rockland Counties and our path each summer to the Catskill Mountains. Walking across the GW bridge to NJ with my friends was a kid's treat. Thank you and good luck with your books, love paranormal anything. I put it in almost all my own books.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

My son treated me to a trip to NYC in Dec 2014 and we had a blast. He goes there more often than me and loves it. I doubt I'd want to live there tho...TOO busy for me LOL!

I've also visited the Bath and Hammondsport areas before...lovely.

Good luck and God's blessings
PamT

PS: Please do NOT include me in the drawing for a book...my TBR pile is unreasonable now LOL

Ken Weene said...

New York City was once a fabulous melting ground for the world, but sadly it has become less and less affordable. While the gentrification of the South Bronx is to be applauded, especially by those of us who remember the bombed-out city it appeared to be at the end of the last century, I cannot avoid some sadness to know that the poor find it ever more difficult to find living space in this and most cities. Perhaps it is time to look at the future and ask ourselves whether we want to have a world of nice middle class homes on one side of the tracks and homelessness on the other or do we want to renew our commitment to public housing that allows the poor to live in our cities. If the second, then we need to find ways to make it work.

Carole Ann Moleti said...

Thanks for your kind words, Linda. Fran, you are too funny. I will never forgive the Yankees for knocking down the historic stadium--and actually am a Red Sox fan since I lived in Boston during my residency. I'm pissed at the Mets too, Losing team and they needed a bigger stadium--what a waste of money. Guiliani's legacy. Despite the turmoil, I had a wonderful childhood too, but I know that the job I'm doing now is because of what I witnessed. I am so happy to see how The Bronx has bounced back, but it still has a long way to go. Brooklyn is gentrifying much faster.

Pamela, NYC can be very crazy. Sometimes even I need to escape so I go upstate to a small country town Erieville. Ken, gentrification has been slow to come to the South Bronx but there are lovely single family homestead houses and some very nice larger apartment buildings. They can never gentrify "the projects" which are really a problem with the drugs, guns and other crimes. Public housing needs to be small scale so there is pride of ownership. And when you cram too many people into an area in the larger housing projects that sprawl out for blocks and blocks, it's impossible to maintain then as well as order.

Mark R Hunter said...

One of my favorite authors, Dennis Smith, was a firefighter in the Bronx during the big arson years of the 60s and 70s. At one point his company, Engine 82, was the busiest in the world -- but eventually their call volume dropped simply because most of the buildings around them had burned up.

Carole Ann Moleti said...

I remember that well. I don't like to dwell on the bad times, but I also remember that police needed to respond to fires and EMS calls to protect the firefighters and EMTs from being shot or assaulted. Visiting nurses used to carry extra syringes in their bags in case they were confronted by drug addicts.

It was awful.

Ed Koch began the turnaround. And Jimmy Carter.

Thanks for stopping by.

Carole Ann Moleti said...

Thanks for reading and for your comments!

I've used Random.org to select my winner: Fran Orenstein, contact me to pick your prize.

As a consolation prize, and to readers who didn't leave a comment, I send all subscribers to my newsletter a free download of Haunted: Ten Tales of Ghosts. http://eepurl.com/bfNver

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