The Surreal History of Beaumont Avenue

The Bronx, New York


                 by Matthew Lee, c. 1998   Click here to view the new ICP Bronx Reporter.

       Four blocks from the Bronx Zoo runs Beaumont Avenue, from 189th to 182nd Street, between Crotona and Cambrelleng. Though written history wouldn’t tell you, the current, mostly Latino residents call it “BU-mont,” not BO-mont like the town in Texas. The anachronistic Francophile spelling remains, confusing gypsy cab drivers and even interviewing reporters (who do not mention this incongruity, or how the residents know the name of their identifier. “Mr. Perez, of 2422 BEAUmont Avenue, was sentenced to life without parole.” Escaping his mis-pronounced street, and, sub silencio, his misconceived birth or immigration....).

    History’s archives reveal 24 stories mention Beaumont Avenue, beginning in the early 1970’s, with a one-sentence New York Times Information Bank Abstract dated February 13, 1971: “Man draws pistol and fires 3 shots into tire of NYC Fire Dept ladder truck as it pulls away from call, E 187th St and Beaumont Av, Bronx.” Was there a real fire, or was it a false alarm, called in to draw the ladder truck there for target practice? History does not answer. Beaumont goes unmentioned for more than nine years, until a murder-suicide demands attention. United Press International of December 24, 1980: “A man shot and killed his wife, wounded his 11-month-old daughter and then turned the gun on himself and committed suicide in the family’s Bronx home, police said. A police spokesman said the incident occurred at about 5:30 p.m. at 2307 Beaumont Ave. as the husband, Fransisco Ramos, 50, and the wife, Maria, 25, were having an argument.”

   It was the night before Christmas, and the husband was 25 years older than the wife. When Fransisco died, did he know that his daughter was only wounded, and not dead? Was this what he intended? The New York Times of Christmas Day 1980 devoted 87 words to these questions: Section 2, Page 27, Column 6, “The City: 2 Die and Child Hurt in Bronx Shooting.” “The man, Fransisco Ramos, his wife, Maria, 25, and the child, 11-month-year old Fran, were found in Mrs. Ramos’s apartment, at 2307 Beaumont Avenue in the East Tremont section of the Bronx. The police said the infant was taken to Montefiore Hospital in critical condition with a bullet wound in the back.”

    The paper of record casts the following illumination: we learn the child’s name (Fran), we learn that she was shot in the back, and is in critical condition on Christmas Day; Beaumont is mis-described as being in the East Tremont, rather than the Belmont, section of the Bronx. Did Fran live or die? If she lived, where is she today? Since Fransisco and Maria had the same last name (Ramos), why is it described as “Mrs. Ramos’s apartment”? Doesn’t the New York Times’ Manual of Style dictate dropping the “s” after an “s-apostrophe”? These and other questions are unresolved, in history’s eye-- the next mention of Beaumont is a year-and-a-half later (Fran, if alive, is two-and-a-half, or 29 months, old).

    UPI of July 17, 1982, reports bluntly that “Boy, 13, Arrested for Killing Neighbor With A Fork.” The two sentences convey a revelation in the station house, a coerced confession, perhaps, or a teenaged slip of the tongue. “A 13-year-old boy was arrested Saturday for stabbing his elderly neighbor in the throat with a fork during an attempted robbery of the widow’s Bronx apartment, police said. Reginald Peterson, of 2319 Beaumont Ave., was arrested at 5:30 p.m. by detectives of the 48th Precinct who had brought the boy in as a possible witness to the Thursday killing of neighbor Mary DeLeo, 70.” Thursday’s murder had not been reported; either the fork, or the rapid turn from witness to suspect, drew the attention of United Press International. Was Reginald brought in for questioning on Friday, and only charged at dusk on Saturday? Was there a two-day lull in questioning? Did the police in fact already suspect Reginald when they called him in on Saturday? Who was present during the interview -- parents? A lawyer? The stab in the throat with a fork was distributed globally, for just a second, in two paragraphs.

    Divine or random retribution was to come, but somewhat lackadaisical, and two buildings away. The New York Times of April 11, 1983, reporting on page B1 the sixth weekend in a row of torrential rains, reported, near the bottom, in a single sentence, that “[f]ifteen families were evacuated from a Bronx apartment building, at 2311 Beaumont Avenue, in the East Tremont section, after a retaining wall collapsed and a mud slide crashed into the first-floor apartment windows. In Central...”.

    Perhaps the building next door to 2311, perhaps the 2319 of Mr. Peterson (now 14) and of the late Mrs. (or Ms.) DeLeo, had already been abandoned and demolished, leaving a retaining wall which collapsed, sending the aforesaid mudslide into the first-floor windows of 2311. Or perhaps the mud slide came from the other, southern side of 2311. We’ll never know -- as of 1998, the building is gone, replaced by a half-fenced vacant lot full of rusted refrigerators.

   But Beaumont’s real day in the sun was to come in the summer of 1992. “Man Slain in Revenge Attack in Bronx,” UPI of August 19, 1992, 140 words: “A group of young men apparently bent on revenge fatally beat a 39-year-old man on a Bronx street early Wednesday, but investigators said they may have attacked the wrong person. Sgt. Ed Burns said Carmelo Rivera of 2401 Beaumont Ave. was attacked by 10 to 15 men shortly after midnight at Beaumont Avenue and 187th Street in the Fordham section of the Bronx.”

   East Tremont becomes Fordham; perhaps Reginald “Forky” Peterson, or the ghost of Fran Ramos, has reached young adulthood; the authorities who ceaselessly mis-pronounce and misidentify the area speculate now that the killers “may have attacked the wrong person.” But Carmelo Rivera is without question dead, just as Mary DeLeo before her, down the block -- and in two months time, Carmelo’s remaining family are burned out of their apartment over the Korean liquor store at 2401 Beaumont. Revenge killing leads to mysterious revenge arson.

   Two years later, on December 12, 1994, the New York Law Journal finds legal substance on Beaumont, reporting for posterity, under the headline “Danger of Misuseof Identification Requires Severance of Some Counts, People v. Lance Grey, Supreme Court, Criminal Term, Part 48, Justice Marcus,” that “[a]s authorized by Judge Cohen, in his subsequent examination the prosecutor asked the defendant about two of his convictions, and the defendant admitted that he had been convicted of felonies in December 1984 and March 1989. The prosecutors also asked, however, whether the defendant was familiar with 2352 Beaumont Avenue in the Bronx, the building in which the murder charged in the present indictment allegedly occurred, and whether he had ‘ever been at that building’? The defendant testified that he was not familiar with the building...”--

   Or with the street. Misidentifications, murder by fork or by suicide, East Tremont or Fordham, a mispronounced street enveloped in rain, in torrential rains and mud slides, driven for revenge, reincarnated, from 11-month-old victim to 13-year-old victimizer, perhaps a young adult, who, “police say,” “may have killed the wrong man.”

How to Contact Us     Site Map    Search This Site    Inner City Press' Community Reinvestment Reporter   Global Inner Cities   Citigroup Watch  Inner City Reporter Bank Beat   Inner City Poetry   Community Reinvestment   Environmental Justice Insurance Redlining In the Bronx FCC/Telecommunications About Inner City Press Inner City Arts&Culture Inner City Housing ICP's Freedom of Information Guide Links/Resources Frequently Asked Questions   The Inner City Reporter's Federal Reserve Beat Privacy Policy    What's New on Site Archives   For the Media Inner City Public Interest Law CenterWhat's New on Site

Copyright 1999-2003 Inner City Press/Community on the Move, Inc..   All rights reserved.   For further information, or to request reprint or other permission, contact: Permissions Coordinator, Legal Administration, Inner City Press, P.O. Box 580188, Mount Carmel Station, Bronx, NY 10458.  Phone: (718) 716-3540.  Fax: (718) 716-3161.  E-mail:  mlee [at]