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A Library Branch in the Woods


My friend Maks and I were geocaching in the Staten Island Greenbelt when we veered off the trail through some dense forest and saw a guy with a rake. We were far off the trail at this point so we were surprised to see someone, and did I mention he had a rake? I quickly concocted a scenario in my head that he was burying something and was using the rake to give a natural appearance to the fallen leaves.  Maks and I gave a quick greeting as is customary when hiking, but we avoided eye contact in the event he was burying a body and wanted privacy. He didn't want privacy; I know that because he asked us if we were from around here.

When geocaching I usually find that the journey is just as good as the destination so we took up his invitation for conversation. I can tell you are on the edge of your seat; my deep concern for your well-being will cause me to make this long story short so you don't fall off the edge of your chair. This guy with the rake, he gets historical maps of Staten Island and finds where there used to be residences and looks for evidence of a life once lived. Only using a rake he found many glass and ceramic containers and jars, mostly broken, but three were intact including this beer bottle from the late 1800s.

Further discussion revealed that he was visiting from Pennsylvania but grew up on Staten Island and used to play in these woods. He went on to explain how he found these historical maps on this great resource called the New York Public Library website. BAM. I told him I work there. He said it was a great place. I agreed. He then showed us how the stones that were set in the ground were once the foundation of the house on the map. I frequently run the trails in the Greenbelt and always assumed any discarded container I saw was someone's litter, not evidence of a life lived over a hundred years ago. Now I know better. 

New York Public Library... it's not just for indoor use. 


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made me smile

Cool story, I enjoyed it! It reminded me of my father. My dad (who had a BS in Geology) used to say that future generations would be able to identify the 1960s by the layer of pop tops from metal drink cans they would find on Earth's surface. That was back when the can top came completely off when you pulled a little ring. You're probably too young to remember that. Anyway, thanks!

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