Sunday, August 24, 2008

April 14, 1932

Was called back to Jacob Vandewater who once again received me curtly at his door, looking quite disheveled again. He handed me the exact some manuscript in the same shirt box which was now crumpled and in a sad state.

"Don't return that to Dr. Loockersmans. The note is intended for Mr. Rapalje." His wire-rim glasses were still crooked on his face. I wondered if he had changed at all since my first delivery. "Do you understand?"

"Yes sir, completely."

"And don't hand it to that driver of his either. Directly to Mr. Rapalje himself. I fear that man to be meddlesome."

"I understand, sir," I said almost chuckling because Rudy, to me, seems to be the nicest man I've met in travels.

Vandewater looked both ways down the street and ducked inside the door. "Be careful, Ms. Graydon, I fear you're being followed. Do not go directly to Mr. Rapalje." With that he slammed the door.

I turned slowly and started walked down the street. In the corner of my eye I did notice what seemed to be a tall man in a hat following me. I couldn't make out his face but as soon as I reached the corner he began to move in my direction. I quickly found my way into a taxi cab and as far as I can tell, I was free of him.

The intrigue doesn't seem to end. And now, part of me, is starting to enjoy it.

April 6, 1932




"Would you like a pipe, Miss Graydon?"

"No, thank you."

"You're so polite.... Did you read the book I gave you last?"

"Yes and Mr. Lincoln, I'm confused. It's fiction. None of that is true. I have a factual history of New York and they hardly mention the Communipaw. Just that it was a region of Hudson County and there were some Dutch homesteads there."

"Are you saying that Mr. Irving, my namesake, was a liar, Miss Graydon."

"Of course not, he was a writer of stories. That history is fictional. Not to mention he makes the Dutchmen at Communipaw look like lazy fools."

"Hmmm, I see, that's what you believe. Let's review the facts you've come across in your reading. Did the Dutch settle New Amsterdam?"


"Was there a place called Communipaw across the river?"


"Was there such historical figures as he spoke of in that text?"

"I would assume they were characitures of real people? Peter Stuyvesant and such."

"Did the Dutch have a strong devotion to St. Nicholas?"

"So I've read."

"Then where are the lies, Miss Graydon?"

"Mr. Lincoln, I'm having a hard time believing that St. Nicholas sat on a cloud and guided the Communipaw Dutchman to island of Manhattan, convincing them to settle there."

"Then you're in the wrong line of work."

"I'm not in a line of work, sir. I'm a student."

"Come with me." He hopped off his little chair. "This is your real lesson, Miss Graydon. Words are your passion, well you better start believing in them." He walked me to a tiny wooden door with a cathedral arch. "Do you know what an archivist here does, Miss Graydon?" He fumbled for a key on his collection of identical keys. Again, looking like he was picking out something arbitrary.


He unlocked the door and led me down a dark passage. He stopped and without even being able to see, I heard him fumble for another key and unlock another door. When he turned on the light switch, the sight nearly made me collapse. A vaulted room the size of my entire dormatory filled with ancient books, maps, and scrolls. There were at least two differen levels to the room with walls shelved from floor to ceiling.In the center was a large Gothic-style statue of a tall robed man with a long beard and a pointed bishop's hat. It was more books and papers than I had ever seen in one place, including the library on Columbia's campus.

"Everything ever written here from 1630 to yesterday can be found in this room in some form or another. Not even Washington Irving himself would believe it. But it exists." My mouth never closed. "So lesson one: not all facts are factual, and not all fiction is fictional. This collection, started by are ancestors is the Communipaw's contribution to history. History just hasn't gotten around to recording it. We were are guardians of the land, sea, and the written word." He pointed to the statue. "And that is our greatest patron and guide. St. Nick. Washington Irving, when he wrote, wrote to make fun of the myth of us. We were folklore by time he came poking around. But it was because of him that we have our own folklore to begin with. And someday, amongst other things, this will all be your responsibility, Miss Graydon."

Photo: Trinity College Library, Dublin.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

March 30, 1932

Listening to the radio this morning, my favorite show at the moment is The American Album of Familiar Music on the NBC dial. I have to usually fight off Dottie for the radio who is completely enthralled with Little Orphan Annie which just so happens to come on everyday of the the week at the same time. But listening to some of the bands on my program makes me think of Robert. He's been gone for nearly a week now and I cannot believe how much I miss him. I know that be he'll be back by summer. I only hope he doesn't go off and fall for a fancy European girl.*

It's Sarah's birthday today. Her father had Dottie and I down to their home for dinner. It was a different dining experience from the last time. Mr. Schimberg served a traditional Shabbat dinner that's how traditional Jewish families celebrate birthdays. We had chicken and a stew of carrots. I was introduced to a host of Hebrew words for certain household items like mapit is a napkin and prachim means flowers. Sakin means knives. There was a song which was a prayer to the Shabbat Angels to bless the food and Sarah as she entered her 19th year.

Of course Dottie added her own flare to the evening. She stopped at an Italian bakery on the way down and bought an assortment of pastaries which she claims is how traditional Italians celebrate their birthdays. I bought Sarah a biography of Louis Daguerre, which she loved the most, she said.

Tonight Sarah is staying in Hewitt Hall so we can go to the Bakery to celebrate "properly" as Dottie says.

*EDITOR'S NOTE: In a prior entry not included on the list given to me by Velma, it is mentioned that Robert was accompanying Caroline Vanderford on a European tour as her butler. He was gone for approximately five months before returning to New York. She mentions many times how she misses him but does not confirm whether or not they are officially coupled.

March 16, 1932

Had my first real session with Mr. Lincoln today. I've decided to keep all notes from him in this journal since I'm not quite sure how to classify the material he'll be imparting to me. Although I intend to treat this as a class I attend twice a month, I'm still not exactly sure what I am going to learn under his tutelage.

When I arrived at the top of the spiral stairs to his hidden office, I could smell the cherry wood from his pipe wafting up the stairs. Before I could even announce myself, I heard him shout, "Ms. Graydon, come down." So I cautiously crept down the stairs careful not to fall as there wasn't much room to move. "You're a morning person. I figured that about you. Early risers are extremely disciplined folk. I can smell your discipline."

"I have a class in the afternoon," I said arriving at the bottom stepping into a haze of smoke.

"What class?"

"Modern Dutch Grammar."

He grimaced, "With Gerdi, I presume."

"Yes. He's the only Dutch professor on staff."

"And German as well. Did he tell you that? He teaches German over on the men's campus. I'm sure he didn't. He tries to hide that now."

For some reason the news hit me as strange. "He did not tell me that."

He puffed on his pipe. "My advice to you, Miss Graydon. Keep both your eyes open at all times. And follow your instincts. They're usually right."

"Is he involved in something bad?"

"How am I to know? I spend most of my days locked up in this cathedral poring over old books. Besides, we're not here to draw conclusions about people. I'm merely telling you to watch those around you. Dr. Loockersmans is one of the top three Lightkeepers. That is not a position that is just handed to you. And of course, he found you."

"I just find it hard to trust him."

He smiled and puffed his pipe. "Well, ok, here we are. I see you've brought your notebook. Good. My first question to you is, how have your dreams been of late?"

I could sense my face flushing with blood at his question. Did he know the types of dreams I was having? "Very strange."



"Same dreams over and over?"

I was getting more anxious. "YES! What is that about, Mr. Lincoln? Do you know?"

"Have I offered you a pipe yet today?"

"No. And no thank you."

"Are you sure?" He said puffing so much on his that the room seemed to fog over.

"I'm very sure. Thank you."

He stood up, which for him didn't look much different from him sitting down. He went over to a basket full of rolled documents. He fiddled through a group of them and finally settled on one. From what I could tell it was arbitrary for they all looked the same. It was tied with a green ribbon, like the rest. "Green," he said. "My favorite color. Yours as well, I should think."

At first I thought he was some sort of wizard for knowing that, but then I realized I had my green satchel and was wearing a green dress. "Yes, it is."

"Green, Miss Graydon, is the color of the Communipaw which is what we're learning about today." He unrolled the paper to reveal an old surveyor's map of what looked like a riverside. The paper was brittle and faded. "This map dates to 1633 not long after a small band of Dutchman and their families, after crossing weeks of unwelcoming seas, roll into New Netherland. They sailed by the hilly island which looks, to them, a bit unsuitable for settlement. They forge up the wide river mapped out by Hudson, known to them as the North, and settle in small lowland region known as Communipaw. At first and for many years, they thought Communipaw sat on a small island which they called Oyster Island because of the abundance of oysters in the surrounding river beds. These Dutchman were like no other before and like few after. They were known for their incredible simplicity, their love of the pipe, their keen power of perception, and their incredible ability to commune with nature. I am one of only a few that are alive today and I being the only one left alive who knows of their ways. My mother's father, a Hooglant, carried on the traditions from a long line of Communipaw descendants. He was a man of the sea. But all that will come later."

"Where is this Communipaw located?"

"It was wiped off the maps many years ago to make way for the City of Jersey."

"You mean across the river?"

"In 1855, with Manhattan burgeoning in all directions, the land that was once the seed of New Amsterdam was carved up into city blocks and now all that is left is a street bearing its name."

"What do you mean by seed?"

"You see, Miss. Graydon, it was a select few Dutchman who launched from Communipaw and came downriver to settle New Amsterdam under the watchful eye of St. Nicholas." He went over to a book shelf and pulled off a dusty black leather-bound book. The gold embossed letters read, The History of New-York from The Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty by Diedrich Knickerbocker. "Read it, it will explain more to you."

"May I ask why this is important to me, Mr. Lincoln?

He laughed and puffed away on his pipe. "Simple, Miss Graydon, you, along with myself, are one of the few Communipaw descendants left."

Was he playing a trick on me? Was he out of his right mind? I had never heard of these people ever. "That can't be right, sir. Both sides of my family only have English and Irish heritages."

He wobbled over to a shelf full of disorganized paper and once again seemed to arbitrarily pull one out. "According to this tree here, your great great great great grandfather was a Van Hornes who went on to marry a Wynkoop, who then had seven daughters, one of which married a Knickerbacker, and one of their daughters married a young man by the name of Phillips who brought her and his family back to England where another daughter was born who married a one Thorton Graydon of Greenwich who beget a son, a merchant marine who settled back in the wilds of the New World, in a spot known as Saratoga, who went on to beget a son who took to horse breeding this man's name was Jonathan."

"My grandfather."

"Who went on to beget a son named Joe, a daughter named Grace, and a lastly a another son, very late in his life named Richard. Who went on to have a daughter named Velma and a son named Henry." He handed me the paper.

Truth be told, I knew very little of the Graydon family history. Unlike Granny Elie, who told me all about the Morgans, father's parent died before I was born because my father was the youngest and born late in their lives. "So Miss Graydon, if Gerdi didn't find you, it was only a matter of time before I would."

"Yes, but I have cousins on that side. Why aren't they here listening to all this?"

"Because Ms. Graydon, they are not you. You for some reason, have the mind the instincts of a Communipaw. You are special and will have to accept it. Now, stop taking notes and tell me all about these dreams you're having."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

March 11, 1932

Studying feriously for mid-terms next week and then there is a spring recess called for the week after. I don't think I'll go to Saratoga that week but rather stay in New York and continue to practice my Dutch and research more on these Lightkeepers.

I've been dreaming quite a bit again. Recurring images. The girl in the tattered bonnet like the one in my dreams back in the fall. She continually gives me the long blue feather which I can sware I feel in my hands. And for the past two nights I've been dreaming of ships sailing into a desolate harbor. There are three of them and they are old. Perhaps caravels or European schooners of some kind. The images flash by in my dreams in a nonsensical pattern.

Had a delivery to a new Lightkeeper today. His name was Jacob Vandewater of E. 77th Street. I delivered him a shirt box tied with brown string. It felt as though there was a stack of paper's inside. He answered the door in quite an erratic state. His hair was disheveled and his glasses crooked. He took the box quickly and said that he would call on me soon to bring the box to Mr. Rapalje. He then bid me good day and shut the door rudely. I have now met four of the seven Lightkeepers. Two seem perculiar to me and two I like very much.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

March 2, 1932

Read a disturbing article in the morning paper about Colonel Lindbergh, the world famous aviator, of Hopewell, New Jersey, who found his child missing last night with a ransom note. How frightening! I think this Depression is making people commit desperate crimes for money.

It has been over a week since I've received an assignment from Loockersmans, so I have taken the time to do some investigating of my own. Of course with Mid-term examinations coming, this is the worst time for that sort of thing, but I can't help myself.

I returned to St. John the Divine and met up with that strange little man, Irving Lincoln. He apologized for being so terse last month and told me that he understands my frustration. He took me down to his little office which was down a set of spiral stairs behind the choir of the cathedral. His office is stacked with old books and maps from what looks like various centuries past. There was one lone roll-top desk stuffed with papers at which he sat. It looked like it was custom made for his height. He explained to me that he is the archivist at St. John the Divine and has been for a countless number of years. His charge is to catalogue and organize the cathedral's vast number of books and documents.

I asked him why he thought the Lightkeepers were making a fuss over me. He explain that I have an unusual sense of perception, which will only grow stronger as I grow older and it will come in handy with the work they need to accomplish. I'm still not sure how I am any different from anyone else. He said that my knowledge and ability to master and understand languages is really my greatest asset to them. Jack also said the same thing. Why they have me as a messenger is still a mystery to me. I'm not observing anything or speaking any other language other than English.

I of course went on to ask him who the Lightkeepers were as an organization. He said that their story was long and involved but basically they were a group of Dutch settlers who banded together to keep the interest of the city and its residents as a priority. There are always seven seven members at one given time, he was very quick to point out that he was not one. Every member is in some way related to an original founding family of New Amsterdam. I explained to him that Dr. Loockersmans is directly from Utrecht and not from New York. He said that my thinking on the matter was narrow. Of course families came and went back from the Netherlands. The whole thing sounded like one of those old boy's club to me. He laughed and said it was in a way.

Many times he stopped to offer me a pipe. I continually turned him down telling him I didn't smoke. He said it was a shame. He said smoking a good pipe cleared the mind. Mr. Lincoln said I was to return to him twice a month (on the first and third Wednesday) with a notebook in hand. He was going to begin divulging useful information about my post. Before I left, he asked me how my Dutch was coming along. I said fine, I was practically able to understand most of the language conversationally. And could read most anything put in front of me. He laughed and said I would need that soon.

Robert and I are going out again for the third time tomorrow. He is taking me to the cinema to see 20,000 Years in Sing Sing with Spencer Tracy and Bette Davis. He told me that he enjoys my company more than anyone elses. I said I did his. I really cannot stop thinking about him. I'm not sure these thoughts couldn't have come at a worse time.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

February 25, 1932

Delivered a package today from Professor Loockersmans to William Fitz Roy, CEO of the Commissioners. When I arrived on the 75th floor of the Empire State Building I noticed the stark contrast of the office. There were glass partitions being erected and silver marble lining the floors. A secretary was there to greet me when I stepped off the elevator. She escorted me down a newly formed hallway, extremely art deco in its appearance, all black, white, and glass. Stark. Everything was shining and new. Even the secretary wore a black dress and her hair was pulled tightly in a bun. I felt completely out of place in my brown dress and green satchel.

I was led past an enormous room and saw the longest conference table ever imaginable. There was what looked like a maid polishing the finish on it. It was clear that every detail of this office was deliberate.

When we reached the end of the hallway, two black and silver-trimmed double doors were opened. I was announced by the secretary and Mr. Fitz Roy bid me to enter.

I explained that I would have left the package with his secretary but Professor Loockersmans said I give the package only to him. He had me sit and offered me a drink. I declined. He said not taking a drink was poor form in a business meeting. I replied that I was not aware we were in a business meeting. For some reason I felt a strange air of confidence in this situation. Being such a standout made me feel like I needed to act like a standout.

“You’re missing out on a wonderful Scotch from the Isle of Skye. Nothing from a bathtub in Harlem, I assure you.” He poured himself a drink.

I simply handed him the package and asked, “Does this have to do with John Randel Jr.?”

He said, “You looked him up?”

“I did.”

“It does. Everything here does. City planning is our bread and butter, Miss Graydon.”

And then out of nowhere I asked a question that I felt was none of my business. “How are you associated with the Light Keepers then?” I’m still not sure who the Light Keepers really are. I was hoping he could elaborate. But I noticed the question cut the air and created a moment of discomfort for him.

His face was blank for a moment. “That is a good question. Ask your professor. I’m not at liberty to say.”

I smiled politely and suddenly felt the need to leave, “I’ve taken up too much of your time.”

“Not at all.” He sipped his Scotch. “Always a pleasure Miss Graydon. ” I was promptly shown out.

I vow to the page that I will begin to gather answers even if I have to do some investigating of my own.

Friday, August 8, 2008

February 17, 1932

Had the most wonderful night with Robert. I arrived at a club called Small's Paradise which is in the basement of a building on 135th street in Harlem, hence the 1/2 address. Robert stood at the door waiting for me with a black case in his hand. When he saw me, he handed me a green carnation stating that he thought green was my color. He said it was his favorite. I said it was mine as well.

When we walked inside a round man greeted Robert familiarly and took the black case from him. He showed us to a small table among the smoky room. The tables were set up around a large open dance floor where people were dancing wildly. On the stage in the front of the room was an ensemble of men, one on piano, one on base, one on clarinet, one on trumpet, one on trombone, and a gentleman on drums. All where wearing black fedoras. The room was stuffed with people drinking and moving along to extremely upbeat music. I would assume jazz, although I had never heard it before. The entire club was alive with energy and even the waiters danced with the drinks on their trays.

Robert ordered two whiskeys and offered me a cigarette. I refused it since I've never smoked before. He lit one for himself and we talked a little over the music about growing up around horses since he father ran Mrs. Vanderford's stables. He also fascinated me with the story of his crossing from Scotland when he was eight. There was the 10 days he spent on the boat with only he and his father and for 8 of them it was stormy and he couldn't go above the deck so he stayed below read all the complete works of Sir Walter Scott. His mother and two sisters came over two years later when his father could send the money. Then out of the blue he asked me what my favorite church hymn was. I told him I wasn't much of a churchgoer, but I remember Granny Ellie saying she'd love "Closer Walk With Thee" when she went down South with her sister. He smiled and said Granny Ellie had excellent taste.

Suddenly the music stopped and the same round man came on stage and asked Robert to come up. The host introduced him as "White Lightening." The room went crazy with applause. When he stepped on stage he took a silver trumpet out of the case he was carrying before and addressed the ensemble. He turned to the audience and said, "This is a fairly new little dirge from New Orleans, but tonight it'll raise the dead." The band then exploded into this swing rhythm of "Closer Walk with Thee" which lasted for 10 minutes, each instrument having their turn on improvising on the theme. Robert's solo was the longest and most complicated. The audience hollered, clapped, and some people even danced in the aisles. It was the grandest thing.

Robert played fives songs after that and stepped off stage. We finished our drinks and he offered to walk me back to campus. I accepted. When I asked where he learned to play trumpet, he said that Mrs. Vanderford gave him a trumpet for Christmas when he was twelve. One of the stable hands from Harlem, who played drums, took him to his father who taught him how to play trumpet.

When we reached Barnard's campus at 1:30 AM, I told him I'd never had an experience like that and I wanted to go again. He leaned over and kissed me softly. I almost collapsed from weakness. He said anytime and walked off. When I walked in to the room, I found Dottie up sitting in bed waiting to hear all about it. She said by the color of my cheeks the night went well.

What a night!


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

February 14, 1932

The day of Saint Valentine. Not very much to report on that front for myself. Dottie is off with Howie, doing what, I'm not quite sure. She told me not to wait up. Like I ever have in the past. Sarah and I will most likely have dinner. Neither of us pretend to be too broken up about being single young women.

Although, I only admit this to the page, but my thoughts keep coming back to Tuesday evening's upcoming meeting with Robert. His note was so terse and mysterious and that leads me to question his intentions. I have only seen him a handful of times and each we have exchanged less than five words to one another. Of course he is exceedingly handsome and he smiles at me like no one else ever has. It makes my heart beat a bit faster than usual. Something I've never felt. Dottie says this is what normal "dames" call falling in love. Sarah said the same thing. I assured both of them I haven't had the time or the occasion to fall in love with him yet. She then called an idiot for trying to schedule love like an appointment.

Regardless, after having Dottie do a little investigating at the Bakery, the club where I'm meeting Robert has the queerest address, 2294 1/2 W. 135 street. Can half a building be correct? She says I have Mick to thank for the information, so I wonder.

Monday, August 4, 2008

February 3, 1932

The third Olympic Winter Olympics games opened today in Lake Placid. Henry has informed me that he will be traveling north on the 9th to watch the bobsleighing competition. That has always been a favorite pastime of his in Saratoga. He was sweet to ask if I wanted to join him, but time will not permit me.

This afternoon Abby Putnam, who seemed to virtually fall off the face of the earth since Christmas recess, came to our door with a huge gift-wrapped box on a dolly. She said that it was a very late Christmas present from the Putnam family to all of Abby’s closest friends. We are only mere acquaintances and Dottie has kept Abby at an arm’s length since the bootlegging situation this past fall. Thus one might understand my complete confusion as to being classified as “closest friends.”

“How many of those do you have, Abby?” Asked Dottie unscrupulously.

Abby smirked, “More than you think, I’m sure.”

Dottie who is much stronger than she looks, hugged the package, threw it on her bed and did the honors of unwrapping it. “With the number I’m thinking of, I’m sure you’re right.” Dottie, being proud, did not appreciate feeling used by Abby for booze. “But I’m never one to turn away a gift.” She proceeded to tear open the box. Inside was wood-paneled tabletop Zenith radio with gold fixtures.

I gasped. “Abby we couldn’t possibly accept this.” I knew how long it took Mother and dad to save for ours.

“Of course you can. Dad was given a gross of them as gifts for one of his contracts. He told me that every cultured college girl should have one.”

“So I guess this one’s for you, Vel,” Dottie said.

“No,” Abby insisted. “It’s for both of you. I sincerely hope you both enjoy it.” And with that, Abby wheeled her dolly out of our room. “Have a good evening ladies.”

We both thanked her graciously. Well, at least I did. Dottie and I then both looked at each other. “She wants something,” Dottie said to me.

“I agree.” I said.

“But hell, I’ll take the radio. Mom and pop don’t even have one yet.” Dottie spent the remainder of the afternoon finding the perfect spot for it which we settled on being my desk since it is closest to the window. When we first turned it on, we mostly heard static and finally settled on a frequency that was playing something classical. Perhaps Brahms. Dottie didn’t seem to enjoy it.

Photo: Courtesy of