109 Queens Week – The Death of Rocky Raccoon


In 2007, I lived near the intersection of Broadway and Steinway in Queens.

There were four of us in a 4 bedroom apartment, and our landlord lived in an illegal apartment in the basement. Before I continue this story, I would like to add that I liked our landlord a great deal. He was a fair man, that generally stayed out of our business, which was a refreshing change from my previous situation.

Our landlord was Greek, and a sportsman. This is something I never expected to encounter in NYC; a Greek New Yorker who looked like he hailed from the hills of Appalachia instead of the Grecian Islands.

If you went into the basement, he had stuffed dead animals on the wall and hunting gear prominently displayed. There was an old Land Rover on cinderblocks in front of the house. Our backyard, littered with tools, and hunting supplies. It was not your traditional New York experience.

One day, I came home to find a cage, like in the picture above, occupied by a raccoon sitting under the Land Rover. As you can imagine, the raccoon was not happy as it sat trapped waiting for its demise.

I imagined that our landlord would call animal control to take care of the situation, but he didn’t. He took the cage into the backyard and tossed it into a 5 gallon bucket of water to drown the raccoon, and was successful at his attempt. I am not really sure what happened next. Maybe he took it to the taxidermist to display amongst his other trophies.

New York can be baffling at times, and I love it because it constantly challenges my perception. This was my first real lesson on how my preconceived notions of what NYC is really like, was not reality. And I appreciated the lesson.


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