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Once Upon A Time In Eltingville

Cotton Shorts In Red Wine

Household PhotoCap and Tina Kaasmann pose for a photograph at Blossom’s grave.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — About 60 years in the past, my mother and father bought a Swiss Chalet-type home with an acre of land on Hylan Boulevard in Eltingville.

The home sat empty for a yr or extra and was in want of some TLC. Certainly, the weeds had been so high that little me was utterly swallowed up by them until our neighbor came over with his tractor and cut them down.

After some renovations and converting the clay tennis court docket right into a baseball diamond, we settled in for a protracted keep that isn’t over yet.

Our home was built in 1910 by the John Hales family, who lived simply throughout the road in a good looking and elaborate seaside mansion situated on seven bucolic acres on Raritan Bay. Constructed someday before 1874, the house was named Wakefield.
The Hales family owned vast acreage in Eltingville, roughly between Richmond Avenue (identified then as Seaside Avenue) and Woods of Arden Road.

Hylan Boulevard (then known as Southfield Boulevard) had solely recently been extended previous Richmond Avenue, and was little greater than an unimproved dirt lane.

John Hales constructed about 20 lovely houses there within the early 1900s, and since Eltingville at that time was known as Seaside, they marketed the properties beneath the identify Seaside Estates.

Fortunately, almost all of these houses, together with ours, nonetheless survive, however unfortunately, the wonderful Hales mansion is gone. The family, however, is remembered by Hales Avenue and Wakefield Highway.

With the woods behind us and the ocean just a avenue away, growing up in Eltingville, in the 1950s and ‘60s, was simply the best!

We have been fortunate kids and enjoyed our large yard with its pool and stone island jobs playhouse — designed to look just like the main home! The deep woods behind our home stretched more than a half mile to Amboy Highway.

My brothers and that i considered it our playground and we built forts there, skated on the ponds, climbed up and fell out of trees (I’ve the scars to show it) and picked copious amounts of wild blackberries and strawberries.

We pretty much lived in the woods together with the pheasants, possums and rabbits. If we weren’t in the woods then we have been down on the beach. Who may ask for a better childhood

Years later, when homes had been replacing “our” woods, the bulldozers plowed by way of the various ponds in the realm and we watched sadly because the water crammed our brook and headed for the ocean — taking with it so very many fish. We tried in vain to scoop them up.

The nook of Richmond Avenue and Hylan Boulevard was a 115-acre parcel owned by J. Roberts, who had a horse farm there and a really large barn for his many prized horses.

One grey mare in particular was his favorite. Her identify was Blossom. In 1887, Blossom died on the age of 35. Atop a hill on his property, Roberts buried his favourite horse, and marked the site with a large tombstone.

My father found the stone again within the woods and it grew to become a really particular place for us to hike to. Blossom’s stone is inscribed:

In memory of
Our Mare Blossom
for twenty years
a faithful servitor
Died January eight, 1887
Aged 35 years

When the property was being developed with housing, a neighbor removed the stone for safekeeping. As we speak, as close to as I can determine it, the site of Blossom’s grave is on the slight hillside that is part of the playground for PS 55.

Blossom’s grave is one among my fondest childhood reminiscences. A photo shows my brother and myself at her grave. I’m sporting a whistle round my neck in case I obtained misplaced in the woods!

I love Staten Island history — and its no marvel, since I grew up with it in my very own yard.
Behind our house is a large historical stone house built about 1692. It had several house owners through the years and in 1848, Frederick Legislation Olmsted came to own the 125-acre waterside property.

He named it Tosomock Farm. It was right here that he experimented with totally different vegetable plantings and propagating varied timber. By 1858, he was the landscape architect for the new Central Park in Manhattan.

His profession flourished and his listing of accomplishments in park designs is vast. Nonetheless standing and thriving at the outdated house are many bushes that he planted, together with two very uncommon Cedar of Lebanon bushes, plus Black Walnuts, Ginko and Horse Chestnut trees.

Our property was once part of his acreage and we’ve got over 30 Osage orange bushes planted by him. These trees have very bizarre-looking fruit that have been described as wanting like inexperienced brains!

I’m certain a lot of you have seen these softball-sized inexperienced globes and questioned about them. Squirrels nibble at them however they serve no real goal, although some people do consider that they repel cockroaches.

We put them to good use, throwing them at each other throughout mock wars and rolling them out onto the boulevard to watch them get squashed by automobiles.

The Frederick Legislation Olmsted home is a new York Metropolis Landmark and has recently been acquired by the Parks Department. Future plans name for its restoration.

We develop the most important and best tomato plants right here in Eltingville. I prefer to suppose that Frederick remains to be looking over his land.

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