My dad was a city boy. Born in Newark, NJ and raised from infancy to adulthood in Flushing, NY. He definitely was not a farmer. Yet that is what he set out to be when in September of 1946 we moved to Selden, Long Island. What motivated him to do that? I'm not sure. The fighting of World War II was barely a year behind us. Perhaps it was the glut of GIs flooding the labor market and the resulting scarcity of jobs that prompted him.
It was in Selden that my first memories formed. Dad and Mom had purchased a small piece of property “out on the island.” I do not remember if it had any buildings on it at the first. My memories start with construction of our house. I know my folks prepared the site and did all the construction.
At the time the property was rural. Our nearest neighbor was barely visible at the horizon. Today, there are houses everywhere and the farm is long gone. Our neighbors were Eleanor Tatum and her husband. I remember her but have no recollection of her husband. I remember visiting them on several occasions. They had stools in their kitchen painted a deep blue. I remember being terrified to sit on them. From my toddler’s perspective the seats had a dark hole in them. I just knew that if I were to sit on one I would fall through, even though I had been on them before.
I had another fear, too. When the weather was warm my father would go up on the roof and nap or sunbathe. Then Mom would lift my sister Pat and myself up and Dad would lean over the edge and grab us and pull us up the rest of the way. Once on the roof I was fine, but getting there was terrifying.
It was here that my dad decided to raise goats. He started out not knowing anything about them but soon came to be known as “the goat man of Long Island.” He raised Toggenbergs. In my opinion, they are one of the most eye-appealing goat breeds. We had one doe that loved to scare people by charging them and stopping just short of contact.
We also had a cat. Cubby was black with white markings. I do not remember that Cubby had a mate. I do remember Cubby having a litter of kittens. Not long afterward Cubby broke all of our hearts when she picked up her kittens one by one and disappeared into the woods never to be seen again. In my immature way of thinking I equated Cubby with the Cat’s Paw Rubber Company's logo (be sure to read the comments if you are
interested in learning where this company went).
The last animal I remember in Selden was our Great Dane. He towered over
my dad, who was six feet two inches tall. I remember my mother hitching him up to a sled and having him pull us through the snow. Unfortunately, the dog became crazed and terrified my mother, pinning her against the house one day. For some reason he grew to dislike females and neither my mother nor my sister could trust him. Even during this crazy period my dad and I had no unpleasant encounters. He eventually got so bad he had to be put down.
The photo above shows me prior to receiving my first haircut. I started out
with platinum blond hair and was probably taken in the summer of 1947. By the Autumn of 1949 it had changed to brown.
The one on the right is of my older, and at this time only, sister Pat. I am guessing it dates to June or July of 1949.
I have a few more memories, but they'll have to wait until the next story in