Wednesday, November 12, 2008

In Search Of The Lembke Farm

I've got a lot of old photo albums that were inherited from my family. In one book, there are photos of my mother at a place called The Lembke Farm, where she would vacation before (and around the time) she met my father (1924-1926). I have since found out that many farmers would rent out rooms to people from the city seeking an inexpensive week or two in the country, to help supplement their income; sounds like a bed & breakfast or dude ranch concept. Since I was a child, I'd been looking at these photos from the Lembke Farm and wondering where it was located. I never thought to ask my mom before she passed away in 1980.

A few years ago, while doing my genealogy research, and going through some old family papers, I discovered letters my mom wrote to my dad from the farm; they were postmarked "Leeds, NY." Leeds is a small town in the Catskill Mountains, upstate New York. I decided to try and find the Farm (or whatever was left of it).

For Father's Day weekend, 2004, my son, Ken, and I were camping in the Catskills and decided to look for the Lembke Farm. Armed with copies I made of the old photos, we drove to Leeds (near Catskill, off Route 23, just west of the NYS Thruway) and drove around looking for houses that looked like the one in the photos. We also asked people in town if they had ever heard of the place; some folks thought they knew where it was and directed us to what, inevitably, turned out to be wrong.

Stopping at one house we found that looked similar, however, we met a man who actually knew of the Lembke family; he went to school with the grandson of the original owner of the farm. In addition, he directed us to where that man now lived (in Catskill, about five miles away); we drove over and found the place. After knocking on his door and showing him my pictures of the old farm house, Ernie Lembke told us all about the old farm (he was born in that house) and gave us directions to find it. He told us his father had died just a few months earlier to our visit, at the age of 101, and undoubtedly would have remembered my mother.

"I'm sure he would have loved to see those photos and talk to you about the old days," he said.

We eventually came upon the place and met the current owner of the house, Mrs. Alma Veverka. She was amazed to hear of our search and filled us in on the history of the farm, showing us additional photos from her collection as well.

(The Lembke Farm, in 1925)

(The house in 2004)

(Side additions had been added to the house by the time of this 1926 photo; back to front & left to right: "Marie (another guest as the farm), Ernie (Sr.- the man who passed away shortly before my visit), Madeline (my mom), Mrs. Klopfer, Fred, Mrs. Curtin, Louise & Mr. K" as the writing on the back of the photo tells us.)

(My son, Ken, poses with the current owner of the house in this 2004 photo.)

(1925 side view of the main house & guest quarters.)

(2004 side view.)

All photos © 2004 by Ken Bausert.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Hot Rods & Custom Cars from the 1960's

The Mint Julep I - Owner: Ken Bausert
Location: Richmond Hill, New York

(One "new" photo added to this section Dec. 2, 2010. -Ken)

My first car was a 1950 Mercury convertible,
bought on May 11, 1959 at a cost of $125.
I was fifteen years-old and worked on it
after school and on weekends.
The earliest modifications included
shaving the hood & deck,
shortening the side trim,
making up a custom grille using pieces
of discarded side trim,
and lowering the tail lights two inches.

(Above, "new" b&w photo added.)

By the time I graduated high school,
the first incarnation of Mint Julep was complete.
The car was lowered two-inches in the rear,
custom accessory tail lights had been added,
'57 Merc Cruiser Skirts were installed with
'54 Merc chrome teeth and lowered side trim to match.
The car was painted mint green and I added
black scallops. The cat on the
deck lid was courtesy of the film, 101 Dalmatians.

The headlights were tunneled by molding in
'54 Merc rims and chrome bullets
replaced the original parking lights
which were relocated behind the grille.

1954 Buick portholes were set into the hood
and helped to cool the engine compartment.

The engine was a '51 Merc with Fenton finned aluminum
high-compression heads, a four barrel carb
on an Edelbrock manifold
and the intake & exhaust ports were enlarged.
An electric fuel pump and
duel-point ignition were also added.

The dashboard was covered with
padded rolled & pleated vinyl
and new upholstery was added.
The floor shift came from a '57 T-Bird.

The outside door handles were removed and
operated by hidden push buttons
and a keyed electric cut off switch.
This shot was taken on 69th Place,
in Glendale, near Ken Szekretar's house.

The full-length chrome Lakes pipes were
spliced into the exhaust system
and functional when the end caps were removed.
Note the old general store (Hattie & Nettie's)
on 95th Avenue,
between 127th & 129th Streets,
in Richmond Hill, in the left background.

Me (at 17 years of age) and the Mint Julep;
all modifications were performed by myself
with the exception of the mint green paint job,
the upholstery and new convertible top.
Plaque hanging under the rear
is from the 1320 Crusaders
(a car club I formed with some friends).
1,320 feet is the length of a
1/4 mile regulation drag strip.

Billy Stein (in the driver's seat)
and Eddie Talerine,
two friends from the neighborhood,
pose with my Merc outside the entrance to
Westhampton Drag Strip on Long Island
(circa 1961).
All photos are from my personal collection
and © by Ken Bausert.

The Mint Julep II - Owner: Ken Bausert

After an accident involving some damage
to the front end, I began remodeling the car again.
Twin radio antenni were mounted in a two-inch deep
recessed oval on the right door.
The '57 Merc Cruiser skirts were
welded to the body & molded in; a radiused opening
to match the front wheel opening
was cut into the skirts to access the rear wheels.
A scoop was cut in the front edge of the skirts
and a slim piece of chrome moulding
extended into the opening of the scoop.

The rear of the Cruiser skirt was extended
and wrapped around into a rear grille cavity
on each side of the license plate.
1962 Pontiac Bonneville tail light assemblies
were installed in each rear cavity.
The gas filler cap was welded closed and
molded into the left rear quarter panel
(the new gas filler was installed in the trunk).

Me and the second incarnation of the Mint Julep,
photo taken on the north side of 95th Avenue,
between 127th & 129th Streets,
(there is no 128th Street at this location,
in case you're wondering).

Ah! I was finally able to afford color film.
The paint was hand-rubbed
metallic Neptune Green lacquer,
a GM color, I remember.
I think Sal Consiglio and I painted it in his garage.

(Two "new" color negatives were discovered
in an envelope in a cigar box
and added to this section Dec. 2, 2010. -Ken)

The car sat on a slight rake
(lower in the front/higher in the rear)
and two long chrome scavenger pipes
brought the exhaust out the rear.

(Above, one of the "new" pix.)

The hood corners were rounded,
and 1954 Buick headlight rims were
frenched into the front fenders in a canted fashion;
slim chrome bullets replaced
the original Buick parking lights.
A 1954 Oldsmobile grille was shortened
and installed with hand-cut frosted plexiglass lenses
to create the new parking/directional lights.

(Above, one of the "new"pix added.)
The front bumper was removed and the pan rolled
with a license plate housing created in the center.

Most creative welding and metal work
on this renovation project was performed
by my friend, Paul Wood (Woody).
All finish work was done by myself.
(Wow! I just realized how little tread
was on that right front tire!)

The Merc engine was replaced by a '54 Oldsmobile
(324 cu. in.) "Rocket" V8,
running nearly stock with
just an electric fuel pump added.
The car was completely rewired
and ran on 12 volts.
Transmission was standard '50 Merc for a while,
then the Merc trans with '39 Ford gears
(better low-end acceleration), then a
Cadillac LaSalle transmission for a short time
before switching back to a Merc.
All modifications, unless otherwise noted,
were done by myself.
All photos from
my personal collection and © by Ken Bausert.

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