Grandfather Needs Money for a Funeral


Perhaps you’ve seen this guy on the train. He carries a folded newspaper and tells a story about his 4-year-old granddaughter, who was accidentally shot and killed in the Bronx. He needs to raise nineteen dollars for the funeral, at “St. Mary’s on Gun Hill Road.”

I saw him twice in the past two weeks. My suspicions that this was a scam were raised the first time—I’ve heard my share of false testimony—but my 7-year-old son couldn’t stop watching him; he thinks people die when they are old, and was shaken by the story of this 4-year-old girl. Which was why I was so bothered the second time, a day after he said the funeral was supposed to happen. Now it was supposed to happen “tomorrow.” I held up my camera to take this picture, so he could see me doing so, then said in front of the rest of the car that I’d heard him tell this story before. “That’s what I said last week,” he said, and started at me. I stared back. A man gave him a dollar.

I can’t prove anything, but I called the Archdiocese of New York. There are two St. Mary’s in the Bronx; neither is on Gun Hill Road. There’s an Episcopal one too, not on Gun Hill Road.