In the early part of the century there were many farms in our area. One of the dairy farms started in 1905 and owned by Charles Schwartz is still in business.
Charles Schwartz had five sons. All of his sons stayed in the dairy business. Two of them, David and Benjamin remained in Maspeth. Today Herb and Sid, the two sons of David and Benjamin are in partnership along with another man (Hy Rosen) in the Silver Crest Dairies. They also own the Silver Barn retail outlet store.
Herb told us some of what he remembers about growing up in Maspeth when it was still a rural area.
Herb said he could recall when Caldwell Avenue was called Johnson Avenue, Eliot Avenue was then called Worlds Fair Avenue.
Charles Schwartz used to deliver his milk from a horse and wagon. The Schwartz’ used to deliver to homes and businesses. The milk used to be put into 40-quart cans to be delivered to stores. There was no refrigeration in those days so they used ice to keep the milk cool. Every day they used to go to the ice dock to pick up the ice. The milk was cooled by putting the containers into water that had ice added to it.
In those days when one wanted milk, one brought the container to the store to carry it home in. The storekeeper would take the customer’s pitcher and fill it with milk. He would drop a large dipper into the 40-quart can and laddle a quart of milk for the customer.
Herb recalls that his father used to work constantly. He never remembered his father sitting down to the table when he didn’t fall asleep. He worked very hard in those days and it seemed he never got enough rest.
Herb’s family used to own property almost all the way back to Juniper Valley Park. The family started to sell the property in 1936 and 1937 when sewers were finally put in.
Before 1937 there weren’t too many houses around Caldwell and Eliot Avenues. That’s when the farm started to break up. There were several other farms also in the area. The Bellot family used to own a truck farm. They grew vegetables. There were two other dairies in the area, the Felds and the Buyers. Peat moss used to come from the old Rothstein estate. Right where Juniper Valley Park is there used to be a race track. They used to race motorcycles there.
Herb liked to play baseball when he was a boy but he had to do a lot of work around the farm. When he was growing up the country was in the depression era. His family worried too about getting enough food on the table. They made ends meet as best they could. The Schwartz family raised their own chickens too. There was always plenty of milk around.
Herb grew up on the farm on Caldwell Avenue. He went to JHS 73 when there were still dirt roads. He had his Bar Mitzvah at the Maspeth Jewish Center. The services were home to him during the Second World War. When he came home he went right into the dairy business.
The last of the cows were on the farm around 1937. Today the dairy gets its milk in large tanks from the state. The door-to-door delivery of milk was eventually phased out too. The expense became too much to continue with home delivery. Silver Crest Dairies opened a Retail Store Silver Barns, directly across the street from the present day plant. The old farmhouse was once on the site of the plant.
Thanks to Herb Schwartz for sharing a part of his memories with us.
Photos: (Below) The old Schwartz house
on Caldwell Avenue & 81st Street and
(bottom) Silver Crest trucks in 1939