The history behind “Under the Bay Court Tree”

A newcomer to a tiny Brooklyn community makes the acquaintance of a mysterious elderly woman.

There are several small neighborhoods-within-the-neighborhood in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn: courtyards located just off “normal” streets. The courtyards are shared by two rows of small, two-story attached homes that were built sometime during the 1920s. I’ve always wanted to write a story (or a series of stories) that took place in one of these courtyards, but found it particularly difficult. As a result, “Under the Bay Court Tree” had several false starts, but I was finally able to finish it to my satisfaction, and it was published in Space and Time magazine in the summer of 2015.

In order to fit it into the timeline and universe of The History of Soul 2065 –mostly, to make it an appropriate home for Carlos — “Under the Bay Court Tree” has been substantially tweaked. However, the story itself remains the same.

As mention earlier, Carlos is a loose mashup of a couple of friends.

Ben is loosely based on a colleague of mine from back in the 1980s named Mark. We meet him in several other stories here, at several other ages. His mother, Gretl, is a Holocaust survivor whom we also meet in a couple of stories.

The neighbors — the Hallorans, Vivian, and the others — are very loosely based on various neighbors I’ve had over the years.

Mrs. Delaney is completely fictional.

The tree once really existed, providing beauty, shade and a sense of nature within its urban environment. However, someone who briefly owned the property decided that, because birds loved to nest there, the tree was dirtying up the cement below and lowering property values, and cut it down.

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