Wall Things Considered
Plus, our responses to your follow-up questions
Q: What happened to the tiles on the 9/11 Memorial Wall on Central Avenue in Hartsdale?
—Sam Berlin, Mount Vernon
A: According to Judith A. Beville, Greenburgh’s town clerk, the structure at Webb Field, officially called the People’s 9/11 Memorial Wall, simply needed a makeover after years of weather-borne deterioration. So, while the basic structure remains, the original tiles are with the Parks Department. But the plan is to rebuild—this time using a more weather-resistant adhesive to secure, well, what will go on the wall hasn’t been decided yet. The original tiles will be tried, and the town is currently soliciting designs from 10 schools within the town of Greenburgh, as well as area colleges.
Our “ticked-about-an-answer” shouting ground
1.You were asked to explain the history of the Kensico Dam and whether there was a steeple visible under the water there. You answered the first part of the question, but not the second. What gives?
—Eli Rodgers, Greenburgh
Yeah, our bad on that one. We guess our continuing goal to be concise did us in on that. Best we can tell, it’s an urban legend. The North Castle Historical Society’s “North Castle History” notes that the steeple of the Methodist church that inhabited Kensico was demolished when the town was flooded. So get a camera and prove us wrong, Eli.
But no Photoshop. We run a magazine—we’ll know.
2. In February, you wrote that no one’s really sure if Admiral David Farragut actually said, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”
Admiral Farragut’s log notes that he did give that order. His deck officers recorded it as his instructions, given to his signal deck, to be sent to all of the Union ships in the attack, at a moment when there was confusion among the ships as to what they should do about the mines (i.e., torpedoes) blocking the entrance to Mobile Bay. The United States Navy says that it was his stated order to the fleet.
Also, you continue on to a very disturbing, un-attributed quotation: “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?” What is this quotation about and who is the quoted source? For your education: The Imperial Japanese Navy, under the command of Admiral Yamamato, conducted a surprise attack on the U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. Thousands of Americans were killed in the attack. This is not a small footnote event that one might confuse something as basic as the nationality of the aggressors. This is a deliberate misstatement of facts. This alleged “quotation” shows a severe lack of knowledge on the your part, dereliction on the editor’s part, an intentional violation of basic writer’s ethics by everyone who allowed this slander into print, a serious misstatement of history, and a cheap slur aimed at Germans. Additionally, it displays a completely disrespectful joviality towards those who lost their lives in that attack. On behalf of the thousands of Americans who died under Japanese bombs on December 7, 1941, as well as the many, many thousands of Americans who lost their lives, or were seriously wounded, while fighting the Japanese in World War II, I demand an apology for the cavalier character of the quotation and a retraction of this cheap remark.
—Stephen Baron, via email
Stephen, the time clearly has “come for someone to put his foot down. And that foot is me.” Consider us on “double secret probation.” Confused? If so, you probably have not seen Animal House. Like the two quotations here, “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?” was a facetious quip from the 1978 classic film, this one pronounced by the painfully stupid yet oddly motivational Bluto, played by John Belushi. We have nothing but great (great!) respect for our veterans and no disdain for the German people; just an odd sense of humor.
As for Farragut’s famous order, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” we will admit the evidence is quite strong the admiral uttered something along the lines of the quotation, but there are many reports (available on request) that the wording may not have been exactly as frequently quoted.
3. The answer given by “Ask Westchester” to the question regarding the abandoned building in the Southern Westchester Executive Park
complex in north Yonkers left much to be desired. The “burdensome taxes” response from the Boyce Thompson Institute makes little sense. Virtually every other property in that complex has been purchased and developed. The taxes on that particular lot are no higher per square foot than those on any other lot in that development.
I have heard rumors that the real reason it has not been purchased and developed has to do with environmental issues, possibly related to the fact that the Boyce Thompson Institute “studied pesticides” in that location. You need to dig a little deeper to find the real reason that building stands abandoned and in disrepair.
—Martin G. Wertkin, Yonkers
Okay, dig we did. Our friends in the county government referred us to the City of Yonkers for some input. However, repeated (!) attempts to get a comment from the city went unanswered, other than one e-mail stating that property is under contract for sale.