Did you grow up in Oakdale?

February 15, 2011 at 5:44 pm 1 comment

If you did, would you be willing to share some childhood memories?  Did you play hide and seek in an historic structure?  Did you live in an historic structure?  Did you fish / swim / boat in the canals?  Did you have a favorite business hang out on Montauk Hwy?  Where did you ride your bike to? And, what did you do when you got there?  We would love to hear from you! Remember to be sure to include the year, or general decade (20’s …….. 50’s…….90’s) that your memory took place in.

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Was the College’s Gallery originally a Jewish Temple?

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Gretchen Van Tassel  |  October 9, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    What a wonderful website! I just stumbled upon it by accident.

    I lived in the bowling alley from 1955 – 1960. When my parents bought the structure it had been vacant for many years. For the first winter we kept warm with several large kerosene stoves. (Not OSHA approved!) That was nearly the end of all of us – and the bowling alley. On a frightening night one of the historic velvet drapes caught fire. Fortunately the blaze was quickly extinguished. Before the next heating season my father installed an electric heating system doing the work himself. He also created four bedrooms by partitioning off one of the bowling lanes. That first year we also had an old fashioned ice box. In the summer my brothers and I thought a real treat was when the ice man would deliver a big block of ice. He would chip off chunks for each of us kids. (That was almost as good as when John, the Good Humor man, came around with his jingling bells and yummy frozen treats.)

    The bowling alley had a large very overgrown yard in 1955. A small forest of self-seeded scrub pines had to be cleared. But soon after, because of its size, our yard became the neighborhood hangout. Many innings of baseball and kick ball were played there. The hide-and-seek games were epic…often lasting until well after dark. Does anyone reading this remember the “horsey” branch?

    When not playing in our yard the neighborhood “gang” could often be found at the mansion. In addition to the traditional kid’s games we had an Idle Hour specialty. It starred the wonderful and varied architecture of the mansion itself. We would see who could climb the farthest around the outside of the mansion without ever touching the ground. (I don’t think our parents were ever aware of this.) It was decidedly dangerous! We also loved to climb to the very top of the weeping beech tree which I think is still alive today. It is/was located between the mansion and Idle Hour Blvd. Because the top Branches bent downward the tree had a flat top. We could literally sit on top of the tree – a very special perch! Anyone who has seen that tree will have noticed the plethora of signatures carved into its bark. Mine is there somewhere – as is that of probably every kid who ever grew up within bike riding distance of the mansion. It’s a wonder the poor tree survived! I can’t write about the mansion without mentioning the marble lions. They stood regally next to the grand staircase that leads down to the Connetquot River. I loved them! As a horse-crazy little girl I had know appreciation of their value. But, when mounted on one it became my imaginary, galloping stallion. A young girl’s fancy… That was priceless.

    I could go on and on… the freedom of rowing my dingy along the historic canal; a friend’s Halloween party in the old, CONDEMNED, power house (real bats nearly scared the pants off us!); getting in BIG trouble for going in one of the tunnels that was uncovered when a house was being built; going to the east gatehouse with my mother – while she had her hair cut at the beauty parlor there – the owner had an aviary full of exotic birds. So many memories! What a magical place for a youngster to live. The funny thing is, at the time, we had no idea how special our neighborhood was.

    If you, too, grew up in Idle Hour, share your memories. EE-AWK-EE!
    (Some of you may remember that neighborhood call.)

    Gretchen Van Tassel

    Reply

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