Ghost signs, ghost ads & other phantoms
The image above was taken in April of 2012 during my mother’s last trip to the Netherlands. On this day we visited the gravesite of where Willy’s parents were buried and to relinquish the contract with the Nieuwe Ooster cemetery for the upkeep and claim to this burial place.
So much of your life could change in one day. As world events rapidly unfold we witness tragedies of single lives being unravelled by violence or unmitigated circumstances. The beheading of a long-captive journalist by Islamic militants. The loss of a son to unwarranted police actions in Ferguson Missouri. The disappearance and subsequent destruction of Malaysian passenger planes. The disinterment of your parents after over forty years of undisturbed rest. The relinquishing of a long-kept and valued domicile. All of these events have gone by unnoticed – not due to callous disregard or indifference but due to a neurodegenerative disease. Willy has dementia – Alzheimer’s disease – and lives very much in the moment. She no longer watches television and has no reference point as to what day it is or what is occurring locally or abroad.
On April 11, 2012 – we had trouble locating my grandparents’ gravesite. Frustrated, Willy was sure the headstone was laying down and I knew from online images that the stone stood upright. We walked in circles. We talked in circles. A young rooster nearby also traced a circular path. Finally we came upon an outdoor structure, a rectangular room in the middle of what I thought Willy’s parents grave should lie. The door had a mirror reflecting the illusion of passing time in the outside world. I could hear familiar music coming from within. It sounded like a Burt Bacharach song. On closer approach, I was sure it was Dusty’s voice singing the theme to the film Casino Royale- The Look of Love. We entered the oversized shack and the only light illuminating the darkness was from a projected moving image of dancers on a screen and a circling disco ball. We inspected all corners of the room and after silently accessing we were alone with these ghostly dancers, I turned to my mother and lifted my arms and we danced cheek to cheek while being serenaded by the late Ms. Springfield.
My mother’s maiden name is Broekveldt which loosely translates to Pantsfield. She married Harold Jump and became Willy Jump. ‘Jump’ in Dutch is “spring.” Dusty’s name is a hybrid of both of Willy’s given and married surnames. So here we were in the early Dutch spring, dancing together in the flickering light of ghostly dancers in an art installation in the middle of a cemetery.
The song ended and we emerged from this phantom-shrouded love shack to continue our search for my mother’s parents interred remains. We made a right turn, walked fifty feet towards plot number 42-3-0304. There they rested together- liefe Oma en Opa. For that moment, all recurring memories of Willy’s turbulent relationship with her father seemed to be erased.
On a recent trip to the Netherlands, Vincenzo and I parked our rental car in the parking lot adjacent to my grandparents’ gravesite. We walked in a circle around where I remembered they rested and accessed the online grave database for the plot number. As anticipated, they were disinterred and their bones were incinerated since I was last there with Willy. We further explored this beautiful cemetery where my grandparents once were layed.
When we returned from our vacation, we continued to empty my mother’s apartment and on August 20, 2014 – 861 days since my mother and I traveled to visit the place of her birth one last time, I handed in her apartment keys to the rental management office at Spring Creek, Brooklyn. Willy is currently residing in a lovely nursing facility in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn – overlooking the mouth of Jamaica Bay, Breezy Point, Sandy Hook and the hustle and bustle of jet-skiers, yachts, sailboats, fishing boats, cruise ships, tankers and other vessels en route to the New York Harbor or the Atlantic Ocean.
I bought your “Fading Ads of NYC” book last week and it’s awesome. Some of those pictures are incredible! Keep up the good work. With the city changing so rapidly, a lot of this rich history is being lost and it’s excellent to have someone preserving it while it’s still possible to do so.
Like yourself, I also have an interest in fading ads and while on my way back from lunch today I passed by this ad on the side of a building on 37th St, between Broadway and 6th Ave. They just knocked down a building next to the one where this ad was painted so it may have been covered for years; I have never seen it there previously. The National Safety Bank & Trust Company of New York opened in 1928 and stopped printing money in 1935. - Bart A. Carlucci
The National Safety Bank And Trust Company Of New York in New York printed $1,505,370 dollars worth of national currency. Over $1,000,000 face value is a lot of money. However, some types and denominations of currency from this bank could still be rare. This national bank opened in 1928 and stopped printing money in 1935. – Antique Money dot com
Reading of the Names:
- Ed Buckner
- Terry Miller
- Rick Ouellette
- Tom Schaid
- Jon Singer
- Paul J. Barile
- Michael Zuk
- Jeffrey David Marzano
- Tucker Ashworth
- Paul Monette
- David Ray Bartee
- O. Art Yelton III
Not seen but always remembered:
- Eric Ashworth
- Morty Manford
- Adrian Kellard
- Rick Baty
- Robert Gonzalez
- Jorge Raphael
- Arnie Bragman