We are a two-vehicle family, which means that one of us can be without a car at any given moment. Most of the time, I prefer to go without, as I’m often quite occupied around my home. However, this week proved unusually busy, and I used the car quite frequently. I chose to share the car with my girl, who was only too happy to have me drive her to work. It was a win-win situation all the way.
On my way home from her place of employment, I drove past the abandoned horse farm that sits forlornly on Underhill and Duffy Avenues. The site, which belonged to the Stolz family for many generations, is sadly overgrown. Ivy crawls lazily over the barn area where majestic ponies and horses were stabled. The farm brings back wonderful memories of my own childhood, when Dad used to bring us there to feed the horses. It’s a memory I fondly shared with my own daughter in her early childhood.
Dad worked six days a week in Syosset, which meant that evenings and Sundays were reserved for family time. Every summer, Dad offered to take my sister and I to feed the horses on Duffy Avenue, to give Mom a break. We would eagerly jump into the car, anxious not only to feed them, but to step onto the split-rail fence to tousle their silky manes and bristly noses. Dad usually had to hold us on the top rail to reach them. Sometimes, we even brought sugar cubes as a special treat.
During my daughter’s early years, I took her for a weekly visit to “see the horses.” We would stop at Foodtown (which is now ShopRite on Woodbury Road) to purchase a bag of thick, juicy carrots to feed them. It was a great thrill for our girl to feed those beautiful beasts with chestnut coats that shimmered in the midday sun. Sometimes, the horses nuzzled her small hand impatiently until she reached into the cello bag for another fat carrot. When the vegetable was nearly finished, I took over and held out the small nub in my outstretched hand. I’ll never forget that glorious tickling sensation on my skin as the horses sniffed and nibbled on the orange root. My daughter always giggled when the horses tossed their heads and snorted softly. I told her that they were thanking us for their tasty snack.
Many parents in Hicksville grew up with the Stolz horse farm as well, and brought their own children by to feed the ponies. There were those whose grandparents lived on Duffy Avenue and went to visit the farm frequently, not only as children, but as parents. Others either boarded their own horses at the farm, or knew of someone who owned a horse that was corralled there. It’s a landmark that’s remembered fondly by many. Between the apples and the carrots that visitors brought, those horses were well-nourished and loved by the community.
The stately farmhouse, which stands amidst two and a half acres of land, is a 13-room, old-style home that was built in 1920. It’s a historical piece of Americana that is sadly slipping from the landscape. While it’s situated in an industrial development, the Stolz family horse farm was a wonderful reminder of days-gone-by, when Hicksville was a humble farming community.
The horse farm was sold in 1997, but it continued to operate for a few years after that. While I’m not sure when the farm closed for good, I would be very interested in the history of the farm. I’d like to thank those who contributed their own personal stories about this beautiful place. Although the farm is hidden by tall grass these days, the memories of it continue to shine brightly within.