Deaths in fiction

There is apparently a grave in the grounds of Trinity Church, New York for one Charlotte Temple. I say ‘apparently’ because although we wandered all around the graveyard this morning, we couldn’t find it. There are also a lot of other gravestones which we did find. Anthony Hamilton, for instance, the guy on the $10 bill. But we couldn’t find Charlotte.

This may not appear very interesting. After all, who the hell WAS Charlotte Temple, I hear you scream with expectant delirium. But more about Charlotte later.

Upon rising this morning, we headed out for Roxy’s Diner for our final breakfast of pancakes and bacon. As usual, they greeted us like old friends while, deep down we know they have no idea who we are.

I almost forgot my wonderful conversation with Tiffany at the reception desk of our hotel. We wanted to check out later than the normal midday so I asked if this was possible. She asked me if I was a Priority pass member to which I said no. She then countered with “You may be.” which had me a bit flummoxed.

She looked through the check-outs for the day and, with a slight frown, said I was not. I figured this was the bad news but she then brightened and said it was fine, that all I had to do was sign up to be a Priority Pass member and I could check out at 1pm.

This seemed fine to me so I agreed after she insisted that it was actually free and the card would be shipped to my home address. If I have to stay at another Holiday Inn, I have no problem because the accommodation was excellent.

Cheerfully, Tiffany then informed me that it was all fine and we could check out at 2pm. I smiled back and left to join Mirinda outside. It did occur to me that I could have prolonged the conversation and maybe achieved a check out time of 3pm. But breakfast was calling.

After another delicious breakfast, we were all set to head for the big boats of the South Street Seaport when we realised it was too early so, instead, we drifted across to Wall Street, said good morning to George and wondered at the security around the New York Stock Exchange before heading up to Trinity Church.

Trinity was the first Anglican church in Manhattan. The original church opened for business in 1698 after Captain Kidd, the so-called pirate, loaned them his tackle. I have no idea what that means but, according to the guide, it’s important.

I find the story of Captain Kidd interesting. He was hanged for piracy but there was never really any reliable evidence that he was more than a privateer, which was ok in the dim dark days of the 18th century. Given the stuff I was reading about him this morning, he seems like a bit of a stand up guy. Still…this is not about Captain Kidd.

Trinity Church on Broadway is actually the third physical church on the site. The original was lost in the Great Fire of 1776. I bet you had no idea that New York had it’s own Great Fire. And I wonder whether it was started after July 4th celebrations given the year.

Anyway, the church was rebuilt but not very well, it seems. After a heavy snowfall in 1839, huge structural problems were apparent so they demolished it and started again. It is this third church that we went inside and visited this morning.

My first impression of the church is the fact that it has a toilet known exclusively to large, noisy groups of Japanese tourists. They rushed into the church ahead of us and started straight for the north aisle, squealing and wearing hats. According to Mirinda, the only thing down there, apart from a small chapel, is the toilets.

The lady guard on duty was not in the least impressed as she shushed in an unbelievable tone followed by a “Are you kidding me?” not quite under her breath. It was a terrible shock for me as well, being my first visit to a real American Anglican church.

That last bit was a joke…I managed to get over it very quickly. After wandering around the church for a bit, I settled into the Trinity Museum, a quite large area out the back. This is where I found out about Captain Kidd, Charlotte Temple and Anthony Hamilton.

Mr Hamilton is interesting. He was big in banking in early New York but had a bad habit of duelling. He managed to survive quite a few of them but met his maker after a silly altercation with Vice President Aaron Burr in 1804.

Apparently Burr was not best pleased when Hamilton didn’t vote for him so demanded satisfaction. They retired to New Jersey with their seconds and Hamilton fired first, deliberately missing. Burr took aim and wounded Hamilton, mortally. His second managed to haul him back to Trinity church where he asked the local priest for absolution.

Now the local priest was not that keen on guys duelling and he said as much to Hamilton as he lay dying. He would not absolve him of his sins in preparation for the afterlife. Hamilton, clearly concerned that he would have to endure the pleasures of Satan for eternity, immediately said he condemned duelling and all who sailed under her banner. The priest, being a typical priest, claimed this was good enough for him and absolved Hamilton of his sins following which, Hamilton died.

He now has a lovely monument in the churchyard. And his head is on the $10 note. Actually, in the museum, there was a large $10 note hanging from the ceiling with a hole where Hamilton’s head should be. Visitors could put their own heads on the $10 bill. I would have but Mirinda stayed in the church while I had a wander.

Part of the graveyard at Trinity Church, New York

And who was Charlotte Temple? She was the fictional heroine of an 18th century novel called Charlotte, A Tale of Truth by Susanna Rowson. Apparently a ‘bored’ mason chiselled her name onto a gravestone while he was waiting for some real work to come in. I like to think of it as stone mason doodling.

We left Trinity and wandered down to the South Street Seaport to be informed that the big boats are only open Thursday – Sunday each week. This sort of stuffed up our idea of exploring these old ships for a few hours so we went to Pier 17 and wandered around the Mall instead.

The Mall on Pier 17 at South Street Seaport

Eventually we made it back to the hotel where we showered and changed into sweeter smelling clothes and I managed to pack the single suitcase. It’s amazing how much extra room sweat, dirt and pollution demands. I had a struggle but I managed it. Of course, it could also be the fault of a certain magnet that is packed at the bottom.

Heading out into the street and worried we’d have to wait in the sun for a taxi we were hailed by one almost immediately. I mean, literally. He waved at me and pulled over. Genius. We hopped in and he took us to JFK.

I typed all of this entry at JFK in a sports bar, drinking Samuel Addams after eating buffalo wings. You see, Delta Airlines insists that passengers arrive three hours before a flight. Clearly this was WAY too long.

My next post will be in the relatively sweet temperature of London. According to the ticket machine in JFK it is 16!! Woo hoo!!!

This entry was posted in Gary's Posts, New York 2011 and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Deaths in fiction

  1. mum cook says:

    Thank you Gary Charles what a son you are. xoxoxo
    The Mall on Pier 17 looks great been put to great use.
    I am surprised they built 3 church’s. Must have been meant to be
    there, love mum

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