Palisades, NJ May 1937
The spectacular, sheer cliffs of the Palisades in New Jersey was formed millions of years ago when molten lava flowed and eventually solidified. This igneous rock formation is on the weat bank of the Hudson River, one of earth’s oldest rivers. During the molten stage of the lava flow, a vent hole in the molten lava formed a small cave opening. In the nineteen thirties, on top of the Palisades facing New York City was Ben Marden’s Riviera, a famous night club. The cave was unseen from below or from above, was some fifty feet from the top of the Palisades, and a few hundred yards south of the night club.
I stumbled upon it while on a Boy Scout hike to the Palisades . It was still light after we set up our pup tents, gathered wood for a fire. and cooked our meals. After eating and cleaning our utensils, the scouts gathered around the campfire. I felt adventurous as I left to walk along the rim of the Palisades. Across the Hudson River, in the light of the wesern sun, New York City’s lean hard facades glowed as tall spears and lances attempting to pierce the sky. Countless windows reflected the golden light of the sun. While there was still some daylight, I attempted to find a way to climb down steep rock facade of the Palisades. I carefully made my way down the ledges and fissures near the top. Crawling along a narrow ledge I peered below me and saw wider ledge and what appeared to be an opening of a small cave. I found a way down to that ledge and the cave. Bears had been exterminated from this area, but I hoped it was not the lair of small wild animals. Since it seemed unoccupied, I stooped and entered the cave. I dared crawl into it a few hundred feet before it became too small to go deeper. Light was fading fast and I made my way back up to the top of the Palisades as the golden-red sun disappeared beyond the horizon. Inside my mind I was glowing with excitement and I walked back to camp in the dark. A worried scout master admonished me for breaking the rules and walking about without a ‘buddie’. For the next two days of the hike, my penalty was gathering wood for the fires and washing the.cooking utensils
I never disclosed that I had climbed partly down the Palisades. or that I discovered a cave. It was my secret. Months later I hiked alone and revisited the cave. In subsequent visits, I eventually found a way to climb to my secret cave from the base of the Palisades. It was my secret chamber, its four foot opening was invisible from above or below,.and the fantasies I concocted in that cave became treasured memories..
When I met Edythe, I had a fourteen foot long, two seat kayak, its light, cedar frame was covered with doped linen. When I purchased it for three dollars, one rib was broken and the canvas covering was torn in many places. I spliced the rib and used doped linen fabric from the fuselage of a wrecked plane to recover the kayak. Unaware of my fantasy intentions, but with some trepidation,Edythe agreed to go kayaking with me on the
Hudson River. Early one Saturday morning, I showed off my skill with the long double bladed oar as I crossed the river to the base of the Palisades and carefully pulled up on the shore. I moved the kayak a safe distance from the water’s edge and told her we could climb up the Palisades to a special spot and view a beautiful panorama of the Hudson River and New York. As she followed my twisting and dangerous climb from ledge to ledge, I managed to hide my covert intentions. Finally we arrived on the ledge of the cave. Panting and tired from the ascent, I cuddled with her on the ledge and told her that this was the place of my secret chamber. We sat awhile at the cave’s entrance, while I expounded my deep love for her. I induced her to follow me into the cave. A few yards in the light became dim, and I stopped and took her in my arms. My intentions had firmed up, but my vigorous kissing and wandering hands, groping to undress her, produced frustrating results. She slipped from my clumsy attempt and rapidly, as if jet propelled, scuttled out of the cave. My frustration was replaced with fear. For a moment I thought her momentum would continue past the ledge and propel her on to the rocks or river below. She stopped at the edge of the ledge, then rapidly climbed down, unaided, to the base of the Palisades. She waited for me by the kayak.
She was silent, wrapped in thoughts of her own, as I paddled back across the river, but on the way home, we talked and made the most important decision of our lives.. Edythe loved me, but she made it crystal clear that she would not have sex, except with the man she would marry. On June thirteenth, nineteen hundred and thirty-seven, we secretly married, and secretly united as man and wife.