Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Afternoon in East Flatbush: Halloween Harvest at the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum

We were back in the old neighborhood this afternoon at one of the oldest houses in the United States for the Halloween Harvest in Old Brooklyn festival at the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum, which we grew up knowing as the Pieter Claesen Wyckoff House, a dilapidated place where the roof with a TV antenna was caving in and some old lady recluse lived.

Through hard work over the decades, the farmhouse has now been restored to some of its colonial glory.

We took the L train from Williamsburg to Rockaway Parkway, the B6 bus down Flatlands Avenue to Ralph Avenue, and then the B47, the Ralph Avenue bus we took every schoolday from September 1962 to June 1965 from the wooded triangle by Avenue T to Meyer Levin Junior High School 285 on Beverly Road. Today we got off a block earlier, at Clarendon Road, right in front of a deli that was the deli where we and our friends Eugene, Arnie, Billy, Jerry and Steve -- the Sultans -- used to get these delicious roast beef heroes with tomato slices and mustard. We walked across the street to M. Fidler Wyckoff House Park and paid our $8 admission.

In front of the house, John Carlin and the Kids Music Underground were performing some of their cool catchy songs.

There was apple cider pressing, apple dipping, face painting, treat-bag making, popcorn popping in an open-air hearth, pumpkin picking and decorating, and a spooky house tour for the kids.

We took the 2 p.m. tour of the house with a knowledgeable docent who told its fascinating history since 1652. Only a small part of the seventeenth-century house survives, the one room where Pieter Claesen Wyckoff and his wife raised their eleven children.

Out back there was a really nice peaceful spot.

With our hectic fall schedule, we haven't had much time to do anything but work. But ever since we returned to live in Brooklyn a few years ago, we've been wanting to see the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum. Forty years ago, in 1970, Helen Berman, the mom of our friends Rona and Sandy, was on the local community board that was trying to do something about the historic property, and when we left New York to move to Florida ten years later, not much had been accomplished. Luckily things happened soon after that, and we were thrilled to see the beauty and fun of the place today.

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