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Once Upon A Time In Eltingville

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Family PhotoCap and Tina Kaasmann pose for a photo 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 house sat empty for a yr or extra and was in need of some TLC. Indeed, the weeds had been so high that little me was fully swallowed up by them until our neighbor got here over together with his tractor and lower them down.

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

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

Hylan Boulevard (then referred to as Southfield Boulevard) had solely just lately been extended previous Richmond Avenue, and stone island heat reactive jacket grey was little more than an unimproved dirt lane.

John Hales constructed about 20 lovely homes there within the early 1900s, and since Eltingville at the moment was called Seaside, they marketed the houses underneath the identify Seaside Estates.

Happily, nearly all of those houses, together with ours, nonetheless survive, but sadly, the wonderful Hales mansion is gone. The household, however, is remembered by Hales Avenue and Wakefield Highway.

With the woods behind us and the ocean only a street away, rising up in Eltingville, in the 1950s and ‘60s, was merely the very best!

We had been fortunate children and enjoyed our huge yard with its pool and playhouse — designed to look identical to the main house! The deep woods behind our house stretched more than a half mile to Amboy Street.

My brothers and 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 prove it) and picked copious quantities 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 had been down at the seaside. Who could ask for a better childhood

Years later, when houses have been replacing “our” woods, the bulldozers plowed via the many ponds in the area and we watched sadly because the water filled our brook and headed for the ocean — taking with it so very many fish. We tried in vain to scoop them up.

The corner 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 specifically was his favourite. Her identify was Blossom. In 1887, Blossom died on the age of 35. Atop a hill on his property, Roberts buried his favorite horse, and marked the positioning with a big tombstone.

My father discovered the stone again in the woods and it became a really special place for us to hike to. Blossom’s stone is inscribed:

In reminiscence of
Our Mare Blossom
for twenty years
a faithful servitor
Died January 8, 1887
Aged 35 years

When the property was being developed with housing, a neighbor eliminated the stone for safekeeping. At the moment, as near as I can determine it, the positioning of Blossom’s grave is on the slight hillside that is a part of the playground for PS fifty five.

Blossom’s grave is one among my fondest childhood reminiscences. A photograph reveals my brother and myself at her grave. I’m carrying a whistle around my neck in case I received misplaced in the woods!

I love Staten Island history — and its no surprise, since I grew up with it in my own backyard.
Behind our home is a big ancient stone home built about 1692. It had a number of homeowners through the years and in 1848, Frederick Regulation Olmsted got here to personal the 125-acre waterside property.

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

His profession flourished and his record of accomplishments in park designs is huge. Still standing and thriving at the old house are many timber that he planted, including two very uncommon Cedar of Lebanon bushes, plus Black Walnuts, Ginko and Horse Chestnut timber.

Our property was once a part of his acreage and we now have over 30 Osage orange timber planted by him. These timber have very bizarre-wanting fruit that have been described as looking like green brains!

I’m positive lots of you have got seen these softball-sized inexperienced globes and wondered about them. Squirrels nibble at them but they serve no actual function, although some folks do consider that they repel cockroaches.

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

The Frederick Legislation Olmsted house is a brand new York City Landmark and has just lately been acquired by the Parks Department. Future plans name for its restoration.

We grow the largest and greatest tomato plants right here in Eltingville. I prefer to think that Frederick is still looking over his land.

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