As soon as Upon A Time In Eltingville
Household PhotoCap and Tina Kaasmann pose for a photo at Blossom’s grave.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — About 60 years ago, my parents bought a Swiss Chalet-fashion house with an acre of land on Hylan Boulevard in Eltingville.
The house sat empty for a 12 months or more and was in need of some TLC. Official Indeed, the weeds were so high that little me was completely swallowed up by them until our neighbor came over along with his tractor and lower them down.
After some renovations and converting the clay tennis court into a baseball diamond, we settled in for a long stay that isn’t over yet.
Our house was built in 1910 by the John Hales family, who lived just across the street in a good looking and elaborate seaside mansion situated on seven bucolic acres on Raritan Bay. Built someday earlier than 1874, the home was named Wakefield.
The Hales household owned vast acreage in Eltingville, roughly between Richmond Avenue (known then as Seaside Avenue) and Woods of Arden Highway.
Hylan Boulevard (then known as Southfield Boulevard) had only recently been extended past Richmond Avenue, and was little more than an unimproved dirt lane.
John Hales built about 20 lovely homes there within the early 1900s, and since Eltingville at that time was known as Seaside, they marketed the houses under the identify Seaside Estates.
Happily, nearly all of these houses, including ours, still survive, but sadly, the great 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 one of the best!
We have been lucky youngsters and enjoyed our massive yard with its pool and playhouse — designed to look similar to the main house! The deep woods behind our house stretched more than a half mile to Amboy Road.
My brothers and i thought of 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 quantities of wild blackberries and strawberries.
We just about lived in the woods along with the pheasants, possums and rabbits. If we weren’t in the woods then we had been down at the seashore. Who may ask for a greater childhood
Years later, when houses were changing stone island england “our” woods, the bulldozers plowed through the various ponds in the world and we watched sadly as 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 corner of Richmond Avenue and Hylan Boulevard was a one hundred fifteen-acre parcel owned by J. Roberts, who had a horse farm there and a really massive barn for his many prized horses.
One grey mare specifically was his favorite. Her name was Blossom. In 1887, Blossom died at the age of 35. Atop a hill on his property, Roberts buried his favorite horse, and marked the location with a large tombstone.
My father found the stone back in the woods and it became a very special 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. At the moment, as near as I can figure it, the site of Blossom’s grave is on the slight hillside that is part of the playground for PS fifty five.
Blossom’s grave is considered one of my fondest childhood recollections. A photograph exhibits my brother and myself at her grave. I am wearing a whistle around my neck in case I got lost within Stone Island Jackets the woods!
I like Staten Island history — and its no marvel, since I grew up with it in my own backyard.
Behind our dwelling is a big historic stone house built about 1692. It had several owners over the years and in 1848, Frederick Law Olmsted came to own the 125-acre waterside property.
He named it Tosomock Farm. It was right here that he experimented with completely different vegetable plantings and propagating numerous bushes. By 1858, he was the landscape architect for the new Central Park in Manhattan.
His career flourished and his list of accomplishments in park designs is vast. Still standing and thriving at the old house are many trees that he planted, including two very rare Cedar of Lebanon bushes, plus Black Walnuts, Ginko and Horse Chestnut trees.
Our property was once part of his acreage and we have over 30 Osage orange trees planted by him. These trees have very bizarre-trying fruit that have been described as looking like green brains!
I’m sure a lot of you have got seen these softball-sized green globes and wondered about them. Squirrels nibble at them but they serve no real purpose, although some folks do believe 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 watch them get squashed by cars.
The Frederick Law Olmsted house is a new York City Landmark and has recently been acquired by the Parks Department. Future plans call for its restoration.
We grow the biggest and best tomato plants here in Eltingville. I like to think that Frederick is still looking over his land.