Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Another Tragedy With A St. James Place Destination

Actually many life events end here, at the Vanella Funeral Home. I believe Vanella may be the landlord of 22 St. James Place. An excerpt from a 2006 Village Voice story.
A former Tanahey playmate of the LMRC gang was a Vincent Hatchett who lived n the Smith Houses
On the morning of March 10, Sidney Hatchett lay in a pale-blue coffin at the Vanella's Funeral Chapel on the Lower East Side. A slew of gifts surrounded him—a Yankees hat, three teddy bears, a white stuffed rabbit, a bundle of silk flowers. Sidney had told his mother he wanted an Akademiks denim outfit for Easter this year, so that's what she had bought for him to be buried in. There was no sign of how Sidney had died, except that his face was slightly puffy. He'd spent two days in the East River before police divers found his body. He was 14.
One week earlier, on the last day of his life, Sidney Hatchett woke up at 6:45 a.m. and started getting ready for school. Most mornings he didn't spend too much time worrying about how he looked, but on this day he pulled out his favorite sweater—the navy one with red stripes—and he ironed his cargo pants. It was 23 degrees outside, so to keep warm he put a pair of blue jeans on underneath his cargo pants. He walked his eight-year-old brother Shaquelle to his bus stop, waited with him for the bus to arrive, then headed home, stopping at a bodega to get a snack for his sister to eat later that day.
As the oldest child, Sidney regularly helped his siblings get off to school, even on those days when he didn't go himself. Sidney, who was in ninth grade, had already missed about 30 days of school this year. While he'd once been an honor roll student, he had announced recently that he didn't like school anymore. His mother didn't argue with him; instead she let him stay home. Sidney's school notified the city's Administration for Children's Services about his absences, and later today an ACS caseworker was scheduled to come to the apartment to investigate.
Now Sidney had no choice but to go back to school. He kissed two fingers and pressed them against his mother's cheek—his usual goodbye gesture—then left with his six-year-old sister Shakeema. The family lived on the Lower East Side on a short street called Rutgers Slip, just north of the Manhattan Bridge.
There was no need to walk toward the water—Shakeema's school was in the other direction—but Sidney headed that way, darting across South Street. When they reached the promenade, he took off his parka and handed it to his sister. "Bye, Keema," he said. "I'm going to jump in the water."
"No, please don't," she cried.
But Sidney had already made up his mind. He climbed over the barricade and hurled himself into the freezing river.

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