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Island of Many Names
Call it Varkens Eylandt -- Hog Island –- for the hogs that were pastured here.
Call it Paradise Island. When the Blackwells took it over in 1686, the whole of it was theirs and theirs alone.
Call it Asylum Island -- it’s only a few hundred feet from shore on either side, but that’s still a long distance to swim in a swift current, even for the robust, never mind the sick, the old, the diseased, the destitute, the insane, the accursed.
Call it Penitentiary Island.
Call it Theatre of Cruelty Island, for the reporters who came to expose the barbaric conditions and the day-trippers who came to heap sympathy. Or Melancholy Island, for the infirm gazing at the black water and their attendants gabbing into cell phones.
Call it Welfare Island.
Call it First Family Island, or Patroon Island, for the great Dutch name of city, state and nation, Roosevelt, whether Nicholas, Theodore, Alice Longworth, or Franklin Delano or Eleanor or the both of them, or maybe all of them.
By Michael Nichols
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