32 OCTOBER 2017 I LIC COURIER I www.qns.com
The Hell Gate Kid
BY GREATER ASTORIA
It’s Halloween and it’s the season of
black and orange, of witches, cats,
goblins and ghosts. It’s all in fun.
But ghosts? There are no ghosts
Sure there are stories that go
around – like the Blissville Banshee
and the White Lady of 34th Avenue.
And the spooky feeling people always
claim to have felt on a shaded quiet
part of Newtown Road near the horrific
murder of the Hallett Family. Tongues
also wag about a local church repeat-edly
struck by lightning, and the tales
of the General Slocum disaster which
left a wake of bodies so thick you could
not walk the East River shore without
stepping on flesh. There is the miasmic
swamp of Sunswick Creek, a onetime
source of things medical and sacred
to the Carnasie, and later the dumping
ground of fetuses and things foul and
fetid, and whose soil would moan as the
tide went out exposing what was left of
the latest drowning victim after the crabs
were finished with him.
Above all is the legendary Hell Gate,
a place of tension in the cosmic vortex
whose very name conjures the violence
of nature (hurricanes and tornados) and
violence of man (blasting the Hell Gate
reefs in the largest explosion released
before the atomic bomb). It is here
where scores of boats met their grief
and hundreds of people their fate and
whose fogs and mists defeated great
lights that were placed to mark safe
passage. Here was the legend, perhaps
from ancient times, of the apparition of
a swarthy devil noiselessly making his
way through the rapids - with no means
of conveyance apparent under his feet –
in whose memory those witnessing the
chilling specter dubbed ‘Negro Point’ to
the western shore.
Death is part of the human condi-tion:
from the dramatic (a British frig-ate
HMS Hussar disappearing with its
crew and a manifest of gold), to the
almost casual (a woman boarding a
boat accidently falling off a dock into
the water). But ghosts? There are no
ghosts in Astoria.
Be not disappointed. Permit us intro-duce
the official ghost of Astoria: the
Hell Gate Kid. Here is his story:
When footpads quail and nightbirds
wail, a riderless horse bounds across
You’re in Astoria Park, the sky is dark
- the Hell Gate Kid is on the way.
Bodies fly in the nighttime sky as
ghostly pirates hunt for gold
The “Hussar” hoves into Hallet’s Cove
with a spectral cargo in its hold
As “Slocum’s” sirens wail its flaming
cargo from Hell and the ghost’s high
noon casts a deathly spell.
The saw lady witch plays an uncanny
tune while a black dog howls at the moon.
When whirlpools churn, and the mist
comes in and electric eels fly in the
Spectral undead leave their bed and
search for bones left behind.
When you hear the quicksand moan
and you feel alone, you see a vampire
with a xylophone.
An eerie canoe paddles towards
you with dreamtime spirits playing the
Do not run away, it’s all just play – for
it’s the Hell Gate Kid on holiday!