This past week I drove through parts of four out of five New York City boroughs: Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx. (Add on the northern suburb of Westchester as well, when we visited Purchase College for a tour.) This is not unusual for me, as I work in more than one borough and I often engage in activities in other parts of New York City. So a typical week will find me driving or taking subway trains to various parts of the Big Apple.

Along my commute route this week, I passed by one crime scene and one huge fire. This is not typical for me, but it so happened that on the way to and from work, I witnessed some news events. And I pay attention.

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On Tuesday and Friday I drove past Elton Street in the New Lots section of Brooklyn. I noticed yellow crime scene tape draped around a particular street, and realized quickly that this must have been where a murder took place. I had heard about the shooting death of a woman on this very street. The horrifying incident made the news for several days; eventually the boyfriend of the dead woman was also found dead.


It was sobering to see the very street where the incident occurred. I was not afraid for myself, and I did not see dried red stains of blood on the roadbed. But knowing that a woman had been shot and killed here was unpleasant and the sense that a member of the greater Brooklyn community had been killed, that was upsetting.

But I did not know this woman personally. Another incident was much more unsettling to me, and I actually witnessed it going on. As I drove home from work on Friday afternoon I turned west on Avenue I and saw the lights of several fire trucks and police vehicles. I realized that they were pooled around a particular house that everyone in the area knows about, an unusually charming, whimsical corner house with turrets. And I could not help but be upset greatly.

I drove closer and saw lots of smoking wafting skyward; the smell of the smoke was strong. I drove around on the highway side of the house and saw flames emanating from a few windows. It was a horrifying scene. People on various nearby streets stood and stared and pointed at the house.

I took several camera phone photographs of the blaze, and for hours afterward I kept listening to the radio news station to hear if there was coverage of this fire. There was none. And I did not seen any official news coverage of this fire, even thought it involved several fire trucks and much personnel.

On Sunday morning I drove by and saw men working on the partially ruined building. They had already made a crude fence around the corner property. Some parts of the building looked salvagable but others were charred. Debris and broken window frames, garbage and burnt wood, were still to be seen.

I noticed one window had a Holy Bible propped up on a window sill. Several window panes had been broken and even removed. It was a humbling, pitiful sight. I asked a worker if anyone had been hurt in the fire and he said he didn't think so. Perhaps this is why the fire did not make the news.

But this is a house that many people know about. It is unusual; kind of a chalet styled design with Victorian influences. Large and located on a corner where three streets intersect,, including one of the largest in the borough (Kings Highway) it had been the office of a pediatrician for over 20 years. Now in such woebegone shape, will it be restored or torn down?



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