Edgar Allen Poe’s Bronx Cottage to Nantasket Beach Massachusetts
— Hands of time; Wheel of Karma … as The Raven goes!
This is a story about my visit to Edgar Allan Poe’s cottage in the Bronx … how magical visitations can change one’s life.
As the Y2K Millennium crossed, my friend was then curator of the Poe Cottage. He lived in it. He took care of the property, assisted with tours and seminars and, certainly with the taste of whiskey, bourbon or a stout ale … he or we would mimic the famous writer.
Back then I was living in Cambridge and was an online stock trader. From ‘97 to 2000, I traded stocks near-daily online. My strategy was to take advantage of internet-related tech stocks entering the NASDAQ market for the first time. Many of those stocks rose from the bowels of the very risky and less-regulated Over The Counter (OTC) market, so strong research was a plus.
Many of us online investors were members of a discussion forum called Silicon Investor.com (SI). A combination of Facebook and Twitter before Facebook and Twitter came into existence, the SI forum offered an opportunity to share research, observations and engage endless online chatter on a variety of different subjects. It was on this site that I founded and hosted the internet’s first substantive Anti-War Debate!
My trading strategy was to always keep one long investment hoping it’d net me a Bingo; and also I’d speed trade (much like speed chess) the buying of Initial Public Offering (IPO) stocks that began trading for the very first time. The object was to take advantage of the initial tech stock buying frenzy.
Unlike wealthy investors whose brokers would guide them into a nice ground floor cushion of wealth opportunities for newly-trading stocks, I’d sit daily at my computer waiting for sign of the very first trade. Once discovered, I’d instantly buy into the open market. Usually, I set back and watched the share rapidly jump upward. Frequently, I’d sell my position or a portion of my position within and hour or two. Sometimes, if a stock had legs, I’d hold until the following day, then sell.
It was a pretty good trading strategy based on not being greedy!
One day a fellow SI trader from California asked me if I’d visit and scout out the New York City headquarters of a stock to which he wanted to make a large investment. At the time, I was heavily invested long in an online video advertising technology stock (online motion for advertising), so I figured: Why not fly two balloons on one string! I’d check out his potential investment and also arrange a meeting among the NYC area folks who had invested in my stock.
I arranged with my friend at the Poe Cottage for a weeklong visit. I traveled with a lady friend who’d sleep in the spare bedroom; whereas I’d camp out in a sleeping bag under the taxidermized Raven display in the hallway … Dream City for me!
During the day we’d travel throughout the city or I’d dart off on my rollerblades. At night we’d sit on the porch drinking whiskey or bourbon and listening intently as my friend would recite numerous Edgar Allan Poe citations and stories.
I did have one very odd experience at the cottage. The curator was also into fencing, a sword-fighting sport I never previously encountered except as a kid where it was all fake. One beautiful day we were out on the lawn of the cottage. It was set within a small park circled by black wrought iron fencing.
So there I was in the front yard, wearing a fencing helmet and sword fighting. Always athletic, I was getting into it and thinking: “Man, I coulda’ been good at this sport!” From the side of my eyes I could see onlookers. Suddenly a startling thought of reality enveloped me, My whole body shivered. I immediately shaped my hand and sword to the air in surrender. I peeled off my metal-knitted helmet and, with an apology, placed put my sword down.
I was done!
The demographics of the Bronx were not the same as during the days of Edgar Allan Poe. I imagine sword fighting has also transformed. The neighborhood surrounding the cottage had become minority-populated. It dawned on me that the onlookers had to have been astonished to see two white dudes dancing around while wearing white helmets and sword fighting in front of a white house surrounded by a black fence.
Feeling weird, shocked and embarrassed, I felt so out of place. My career as a swordsman abruptly came to a halt. There was no taking of a bow for my performance. In fact, I was trying to hide in broad daylight.
But, overall, at the cottage and while visiting the city, what a week it was!
I checked on my friend’s investment and compiled a report for him. Later, I arranged for a gathering of the folks who invested in my online video stock. We were all to meet at Googies, a Greenwich Village bar that I’d always visit every time in New York City. I learned about Googies way back from when I used to run away from home during my teenage years. This was back when New York allowed you to drink at age 16.
I had an old friend who lived on nearby Sullivan Street. He turned me on to Googies. He was also an usher at the Fillmore East. One time he even snuck me in to see Jimi Hendrix & The Band of Gypsies on New Year’s Eve in 1970 — but that’s a whole ‘nother story. [R.I.P. to John Heath, who died way too young!]
Three memorable attributes about Googies:
- There were always peanut shells on the floor — free peanuts for all!
- There was a sign behind the bar that read: “Free Beer Tomorrow!” Maybe this is why I kept coming back!
- The pub was always full of interesting people! Bob Dylan and his folkway friends were always at Googies back in the ’60s. Over the decades, other famous people too.
I set up the meeting so my fellow stock investor friends would recognize me as the one wearing a herringbone politician hat, a long herringbone coat and I’d be on rollerblades. We had a wonderful gathering of about 20 people, including the founder of the company who pulled off a surprise visit and picked up the tab at the end.
For me, the very best part was the very beautiful saucy petite redheaded woman who for months I had been communicating with on SI. She arrived early. I was at the corner of the bar by the door, waiting for everyone. When I noticed her pass along the window, I knew it was her, rolled to the door and let her in. I stared down into her eyes and mentioned her name with a question mark. She looked up and replied, “Yes … Michael?”
… A hug, a kiss and love at first sight!
She lured me into leaving Cambridge where I always thought I’d live and die. After all, Cambridge was where I’d thrown the very best parties on Planet Earth and where I daily I’d engage with a multitude of Guinness-drinking intellectuals. Naturally, we’d work to solve the world’s problems.
I actually gave up my huge party house in Cambridge and moved into her tiny 5th floor Upper East Side walk-up apartment — she, me and her seven cats!
Except for roller blade dancing on weekends and playing a few ballgames on the ball diamonds of Central Park, rollerblading the city with occasional visits to Greenwich Village for some chess games in Washington Square Park, I seriously disliked living in New York City in the 2000's.
The city wasn’t the same as how I’d known it in the past. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani — who’d been mayor for quite a while — had closed down many of the neighborhood bars which featured live music and the whole city had become a Stop and Frisk scene. The Upper East Side was not my cup of tea. I hated living there!
This became especially true after the stock market crashed and all tech stocks went belly up. Money got real tight. After about eight months I wanted to return to Cambridge. But she wouldn’t leave.
So I did!
I was at my crossroads, a turning point. I had the big question: At age 50, what would I do next in my life? To figure this out I visited a friend at Nantasket Beach who always rented a winter-rental mansion overlooking the ocean. Standing on the edge of a steep Allerton Hill cliff one beautiful April day, I thought, “Well, if she won’t leave NYC and move to Cambridge, perhaps she’d move here!” I convinced her to visit. She did. She fell in love with Hull (Nantasket Beach), a tiny peninsular at the mouth of Boston’s Harbor.
For the next five years we lived as a reasonably happy couple on Nantasket Beach. But the wheel of time and hands of karma always come into play.
Having never married, my life had generally been accustomed to decades of seasonal romance. Having gone too many seasons past my limit of freedom, it all ended with her comment:
“I’m never gonna be one of your friendly ex-girlfriends!”
Ironically, over 20 years later she’s still here. So am I. But rarely do we see each other. It’s almost like The Raven that brought us together, kept us apart.
For me, having always been a back bench folksinger, I got lucky. I pulled together a rock band in my ‘60s. We’re an all-original band called Boston’s Climate Change Band. As Covid fades and we become healthier and it is safer to go out, please everyone come see us. We hope to perform again!
Below is a YouTube Playlist of several original Climate Change tunes: