Miller At The Forest Park Overlook
Iconoclastic author Henry Miller (1891-1980) - famous for Tropic of Cancer (1934) - was employed by the Queens Parks Department and worked in the Overlook. While employed there he was also a member of the Brooklyn Forest Park Golf Club. Miller got the job through a friend, Jimmy Pasta, in an attempt to make enough money to support his wife, June. He began working as a grave digger, eventually moving up to an office assistant. But June left him for Paris, and on May 21, 1927, he spent a tormented night in the Overlook, typing 32 pages that would serve as the outline for much of his literary work. He eventually went to Paris and continued to support June.
The "Jimmy Pasta" mentioned here is Tony Marella. Starting on page 150 of Nexus, Henry describes his work at this urban park, including the night he wrote his outline for what he called his "Domesday book" (Nexus, p.165): the outline of what was to become The Rosy Crucifixion. According to Jay Martin's Always Merry And Bright (p.131), Henry began his job here in April 1927.
This map of Forest Park identifies the location of The Overlook at the northern tip of the park (map from TreeBranch.com [PDF])
Henry was quickly graduated as Tony's assistant. "Working as Jimmy's assistant I grew more and more familiar with Jimmy's life. Part of his job was to write the political speeches his boss, the Commissioner, had to make. Now and then he would ask my aid in phrasing a sentence." (p.79). The writing of the outline for what was to become The Rosy Crucifixion will come soon as its own post.
Once Henry finished writing his final pages in the early hours of May 22, 1927, he went to sleep on the floor of the Commissioner's office. "Around eight a.m. the first worker arrived. He saw me lying on the rug and thought I was dead, thought I had committed suicide." (p.80).This (1930) is the Overlook building in which Henry Miller wrote his outline for what was to become The Rosy Crucifixion. Found on the same Oldkewgradens.com website is an image of what the building looks like today.
The following day (acc. to Nexus, p. 167), Henry found a crumpled letter in the trashcan of the Commissioner, which would become the inspiration for his "Letter to the Park Commissioner," which was printed under an alias in The Booster in September 1937.
Regarding the Brooklyn Forest Park Golf Club that is referred to on the sign: I don't know much about this. I just can't picture Henry playing golf with the New York elite. Maybe Tony Marella brought him over there one day, hoping to make some connections for him. Accoring to the same website, this was a private clubhouse. "The City of New York rightfully acquired that property in 1924, and the house is now a part of Dry Harbor Playground on the north side of Forest Park." (Oak Ridge in Forest Park). [photo of the clubhouse on Forgotten-NY].
The buidling at The Outlook is still used as an administrative offcice for the Queens Parks Department, and is located at 80-30 Park Lane in what is now technically Kew Gardens, NY. Here's a recent visit to the Overlook.