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A short story of the Maketansky & Whynmans Exodus from New York City to Toms River

It all started in March of 1946. My brother-in-law Irv Whynman took me for a drive to visit his mother, Anne Demain, who had a farm with her husband Joe on Route 9 next door to the Estomins Midway Farm. I could probably write a book about how the Maketanskys and Estomins were neighbors in the Bronx. All I can say is that we lived on the same landing and it was like one big apartment. We were with the Estomins and they were with us.  It was great.

After our visit to Toms River it only took a very short conference with Irv to decide to look around for our own farm. It only took two visits until we found the Polsky place on Old Freehold Road.

Our families came out for a look and we moved in May 1946. Not only were  we greenhorns to the country, but also to the whole aspect of chicken farming. Needless to say, we had to succeed because every dime we owned was now in the chicken farm.

It came as one heck of a shock to learn that the entire stock of chickens we had bought was infected with Newcastle disease. In order to compensate for the loss of income, Lil, Irv, Annie and Hymie decided to take in boarders for the summer. Annie was a great cook and we had no trouble finding people.

I must mention one story about my mother Annie. As I said, she was an excellent cook. She could prepare chicken and eggs a different way for every day of the year. Well, one Friday night we sat down to supper and our first course was Gefilte Fish. Not only was it a great change from chicken and eggs, it was delicious. We all loved it! Only later did we find out from Lil and Mom that our "gefilte fish" was made from ground-up chicken, not fish.

Getting back to farm life, learning comes fast when your whole existence depends on it. We were extremely fortunate that our families had, and still have, an abundance of love for each other. We all worked hard, long hours meant nothing. The women and boys were right in the coops with the men. The egg room was located in the basement, and of course nothing was automatic in those days.

When you're young like my brother Mel, and I were, life is a beautiful thing. We hardly had a care in the world. As for the struggle of feed bills, mortgage payments and the like, they were the problems of the older folks. The family loans and the  chattel mortgages were their worries. The challenge  was constant,  the struggle was  difficult and the time it took to overcome the perils of foreclosure was long.  Now, as I look back, it was a rough time. Time has a way of returning your just rewards for the efforts put forth and happily I can say that today, not one of us regrets the purchase of the farm.

I remember the weddings and the anniversaries, the Bar Mitzvahs, the births, the Passover Seders, the graduations and the visits to "the country" by our relatives from New York. I remember the vaccination crews and the courses on poultry farming given in Freehold to veterans.   I also remember   the wonderful friends we had.

Speaking of vaccination crews, we would work all hours, giving the stock the required inoculations and then have a great meal, compliments of whomsoever 's farm we were working on. Many a night we also went skinny-dipping in Toms River back by the Swinging Bridge just to drown the mites we picked up in the coops.

I recall Irving driving to New York once a week with a car full of eggs to sell, not to mention chickens that Mom and Lil would dress and wrap. In the summer , Irv also had a route in Belmar. I remember my father making us pull weeds from in front of the coops to make them look nice where the water fountain would drain out in that area. We pleaded with him not to bother since they would only grow back. Of course there was no convincing him, so my brother Mel and I pulled weeds. We used to call him "The Whip". He cracked his orders out loud and clear.

I remember a classic story about my father, one we never let him live down. He was a perfectionist. Everything had to be just right. Well, he started building a new dog house in the feed room one time and constructed the most well designed and sturdy dog house I had ever seen. Upon completion we were all invited to inspect his work. Believe me when I say it was a beautiful dog house. It only had one flaw. It was so big we couldn't get it out of the double doors of the feed room.

These are only a few of the memories we have accumulated since our family moved to Toms River. Through everything, though, the hard times and especially the good times, none of us would have done anything different if we had it to do over again. No one can replace the precious times and memories we've had and we are happy we still live in Toms River.

Bernie Maketansky