I grew up in a section of the borough of Queens, New York City, that was made up of mostly single-family homes built fairly close together. There would be a small front and back yard, usually a driveway between most homes, and very little additional space. Scattered about, mostly on corners, might be a candy store or deli, and several blocks away an avenue lined with bigger stores and shops. Even though there were occasional vacant lots (which were eventually built on), there weren’t any farms around... except for the Oberglock Farm.
Back in the 1854, Herman Oberglock came to America from Germany and in subsequent years bought several huge parcels of land on which his family farmed. By the time he died, on February 1st, 1908, most of his land had been sold to developers and, according to a 1909 map, there was only one sizeable Oberglock farm still remaining – on 127th Street, between Broadway (later renamed Jerome Avenue, then 101st Avenue) and Liberty Avenue – only two blocks from where I was born and raised more than thirty years later.
By the time I was a child, playing in the streets of the neighborhood, that large Oberglock farm was gone and rows of houses like my parents’ had been built in its place. But, right around the corner from where I lived was an old house with a sizable garden along side, and a large chicken coop in the yard. Growing up, I heard the roosters crowing in the morning and, occasionally, my mother would ask me to go around to the Oberglock Farm and get some eggs or fresh vegetables. It seems that this old house had a Mrs. Oberglock living there with her son, Michael, and was the last vestige of the great Oberglock Farms in my section of Queens.
The original house, on left; and a new house, built where the garden once was.
A few years before I got married and moved out of the neighborhood, Mrs. Oberglock died and Mike lived alone in the house with his dog after that. Sometime when I wasn’t paying attention, the chickens disappeared and there was no more garden. The farm was officially closed. My brother, Richie, had been good friends with Mike and often visited with him until Mike passed away sometime in the 1990s.