These are some pictures of two old, abandoned buildings we saw on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd (which is also Seventh Avenue). I have no idea what these buildings were originally built for, but the narrower one had been repurposed at least once. The arched openings had been sealed over with concrete blocks that had narrower doors set into them, equipped with drop-down security gates found on most stores in New York City that were built within the last twenty or thirty years. I got an approximation of an address (2341 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd) for the narrower building from Google Maps and then searched for property records, but all I found was a record listing the place as a “Theater/Performing Arts” venue. I couldn’t find any information on the other, larger building.
I like abandoned buildings. I always have. One of my earliest memories is of me and my brother exploring an abandoned building in a small town called Bell, in Germany, where we were living temporarily while waiting for on-base housing. I loved castle ruins too. It’s fun to see historical artifacts in a museum, but it’s a very different experience when you’re looking through a place where people used to live their lives, trying to put together an idea of what might have happened there.
As a bonus, I realized that in the background of some of my photographs is the Abyssinian Baptist Church. The congregation that eventually constructed the church at its current location, which was completed in 1923 at a cost of roughly $334k, was established in 1808 as a result of a walkout from the First Baptist Church in lower Manhattan, when black parishioners were told to adhere to segregated seating. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., who that portion of Seventh Avenue is named after, was a pastor at the Abyssinian Baptist Church, which was named in honor of the place of origin of most of the founding members: modern Ethiopia.
This morning I was sitting at my computer in the room after just having gotten out of bed, checking my e-mail. My wife came in and said in a serious tone, “Fievel is gone.” She was trying to be tough, but then she sat down on my knee and broke down, saying that she was so sad. So, I asked where Fievel was, and she told me that he was in the living room, in a small box she had lined with towels so he could rest in the sunlight while she was cooking lunch.
We went out to the living room and I saw the box sitting on the couch. I shifted the towels and saw Fievel laying there on his side. He could have been sleeping, but his chest wasn’t moving. I poked at him a bit, tickled his belly and rubbed the back of his head, but he didn’t move. So, I picked him up and listened for breath and felt for a heartbeat, but he truly was dead.
We got Fievel just over a week ago. Someone had abandoned him in a pile of garbage and one of my wife’s coworkers picked him up. Well, actually her dog picked him up, but she brought him home, and my wife, being the cat lover that she is, volunteered to take Fievel in, in the hopes that he would recover. She went over to her friend’s house after a long day at work and brought Fievel home.
When I first saw Fievel he was in pretty bad shape. He was filthy and crying. He was crapping blood and struggling weakly. He cried quite a bit too. We did what we could for him. We gave him a bath in warm water to clean him up and made sure he ate. The strange thing was that he didn’t want to eat. We had to force him to drink special kitten milk that we got for him. For a few days Fievel seemed to improve. The bloody crapping stopped and he seemed to get stronger, but then I noticed that he had a serious infection in one of his eyes. There was quite a bit of pus, which I tried my best to clean up. He still seemed to be doing ok though, and I still had hopes he might recover. Yesterday though, my opinion of the situation changed. Fievel had been keeping his infected eye closed, which is understandable, but yesterday I noticed that he was keeping both of his eyes closed and when I checked I realized that the infection had spread. He couldn’t walk anymore either. When he tried to, he would fall over and then he seemed too weak to be able to get up. He would try, then fall back over and pass out where he was. I talked to Margee about it and we were considering whether taking him to the vet was a good idea, or whether it was just too late. Then this morning, my wife took him to the living room to get some sun. She sat there for a bit, petting him, and he seemed to take comfort from that. He meowed weakly a few times and settled into the towel, and then he died.
At least we can be satisfied that we took him in and gave him a chance to live, when someone else had simply thrown him in the garbage. We kept him as comfortable as we could and made sure that he was fed. We held him often, because he liked it so much. He even purred when cradled in one of our arms, which I thought was amusing. The kitten was so small, but it already knew how to purr. One of our other cats, Dapper, was finally getting over her jealousy and was taking a liking to Fievel. She would stop by the carrier we were keeping him in to check on him, and would often walk up and give Fievel a few sniffs when he was exploring the floor. So, at least Fievel died comfortable and knowing that someone was caring for him. How cruel would it have been to leave him in the trash, to die alone in the heat, or to be eaten by something?
My wife prepared a shoebox and I gently laid Fievel into it. Then she covered him with a cloth and some newspaper and then I taped up the box, and wrote a few words on it. While she went to finish preparing lunch, I took Fievel out and placed him into the trash chute. It seemed a wrong and almost disrespectful way to send him on his way, but where in Singapore do you bury pets? It doesn’t matter much though, Fievel was already gone. Still, I hesitated when it came time to push the chute closed.
I suppose he chose a good time to go. My wife happened to be off from work today. At least she was here to spend some time with him and she got to see him off. I’m sure she would have felt worse if she had been at work and I had told her what had happened when she got home. We didn’t have Fievel long, but he had become part of our little family. I was never too interested in cats, but it’s hard to have any pet and see it die, no matter how short a time you’ve had it. It’s even harder to have a young pet die on you. This is the first time I remember having a pet pass away on me since my hamster died in Germany when I was a kid. I still remember my dad burying it in the woods there. I’m consoled by the fact that we did our best for Fievel and he died comfortably.
My wife sent me an e-mail the other day from work and told me that a friend of hers had found a kitten. Well, it wasn’t really her friend that found it. Her friend’s dog picked it up out of the trash and brought it to their HDB flat. She said her friend didn’t want to keep the kitten and was looking for someone to take care of it. She started asking me if it would be ok if we took it in for a while. She seemed to really want it, so I agreed.
She told me that we would pick up the cat on Monday, but she e-mailed me on Tuesday I believe, saying that she was going to go get it then. Apparently the kitten was sick and her friend was scared it was going to die on her. My wife said her friend was thinking of just dumping the kitten back where she found it and leaving it there. That’s not really the point of this blog entry, but what kind of sick bastard would just dump a kitten somewhere to die? So, she went and got it right away and brought it here. Luckily I have a cat carrier handy that’s serving as its home for now.
The kitten looks more like a little rat to me. At best guess it can’t be more than a week and a half old. It didn’t seem to want to eat at all. It still fights when it’s feeding time. We’ve been forcing it to drink milk. When we first brought it here it was really weak and it did seem that it was going to die. Now it’s a lot more lively. We both think it will pull through. I did a little reading up on kittens and it seems that there may be some behavioral issues with this kitten in the future. If they’re separated from their mother too early they can have problems relating to other cats. I think it will be fine though.
We came up with the name Fievel for it because we’d recently re-watched the movie An American Tale and I commented that it looked like a little rat. So, my wife said we should call it Fievel and it stuck. Sometimes she sings that song from the movie, “Somewhere out there…” to the kitten while she’s feeding it. It’s amusing. We’re not too sure if Fievel is a boy or a girl, but either way Fievel is a decent name.
Our other two cats have been acting strangely since we brought the kitten in. Dapper went through a phase where she was very jealous and defensive. She’s slowly becoming less aggressive and more curious. I was starting to get tired of hearing her hiss at the cat carrier where Fievel is. Bouncy on the other hand has become twice the hateful bitch she used to be.