Apple Jack and God

Welcome to FF Motha f——!  No warning needed I didn’t curse.  All links can be found here and yes I included God this week.  No bible thumping!  Thanks Rochelle for hosting.

A little background before the story….

Long Island, New York geographically includes Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties.  It has been farmed for over 350 years.  I live on Long Island.

Copyright -Douglas M. MacIlroyPhoto by Doug

I’d cross the street and walk for miles through the woods, I was 8.

The old man’s farm where we went to steal pumpkins and brave the salt gun, the horse ranch where we watched the rodeos and ate honey dew, all gone.

I was in 3rd grade when they filled in the sandpit.

The “High T’s” left a strip of land cutting across the Island.

Levittown left suburbia.

Christie and her  mighty horse Apple Jack galloping around the corral, all gone.

There’s a Born-Again Church where the ranch use to be.  Hard to find God when nature is gone.


The church that replaced the ranch.

upper room

The Real Apple Jack and Christie

apple Jack

Long Island Potato Farm

potato farms

 The High T’s..The Power Authorities Cross

high t's


Then and Now then and now


44 thoughts on “Apple Jack and God

    1. I am not sure where you are Vb but here on Long Island we have lost a lot of land due to development. It is sad thing indeed.


    1. Joe,
      I think that depends are where you are from …some kids are watching the same thing but here onthe island there isn’t much land left to change. Out on the East End there is still plenty of space but even that is being developed.

  1. Yes, a sad commentary but we must have progress, I suppose. We all miss those days, and luckily, we still have plenty of sprawling land in Missouri. Love the name Apple Jack. Well done. I enjoyed your childhood memories.

    1. Beth progress comes at a price but it is needed. I may get a picture of Apple Jack by the end of the weekend.


  2. Queens girl here. I lost my family pictures. But we had some of the land behind the house I grew up in that had tumble weeds. It’s hard to believe to look at the area now. The family that brought the land had a working farm up until the late 70’s. Chickens and goats included. Now it has a four family house on the land. At least in LI you still have farms and wild bunnies, frogs and such. There aren’t any in Queens except for squirrels and rodents. I haven’t seen raccoons in a while and a couple of years back we found a possum in the yard, but no more. Your story shared the sadness of progress that’s really not.

    Enjoy your weekend.

    1. Kim,
      You know when people think of Long Island they forget that Queens is a part of it. Sorry to hear about you losing your family photos. I bet you there is a story there. It so true about what you say…I look at where I grew up and it has changed. I travel back and forth between the east end and western Suffolk. Most of western Suffolk is suburbia but out on the east end you can drive down Sound Ave. and it’s nothing but farms and vineyards for miles. When I come out this way it relaxes me, reminds me of my childhood but the land was being sucked up at a rapid rate when I was young. By the time I was in Junior High to High School all the woods were gone. Progress is a funny thing and here on the Island the greatness of progress has been distilled because of the finite amount of land. You just have to know when to say enough is enough. The problem with that is everyone has a different idea about how the world should look.

  3. Everything has its price as you so deftly and touchingly point out. The hard part is finding a balance that works but of course it will never work for everyone or everything. Being on an island makes it even more difficult. I’m encouraged by cities that are saving green spaces (or adding them), where vacant lots are being turned into gardens, etc. But it breaks my heart every time an open space is turned over to another building. Each year as we drive to Wyoming, I’m thankful to have an opportunity to see how much undeveloped land there is left in our country, but cities are voracious in their area of influence. Excellent story, Tom. I love the line about Christie and Apple Jack.



    1. Janet,
      I know you are a lover of horses and open space so you get where I am coming from…Being a Long Islander I have a love for both progress and nature. You like to see work being done and people coming into a place but at the same time you hate to see your own land changed. Like you say being on an island condenses it, makes it more apparent and at some point the progress has to stop. On the east end as I said in a few of the other comments it’s still pretty much all farmland and of course we have the great beaches, the ocean and Long Island sound. It’s a great Island but progress has definitely played its roll here. There are over 3 millions people in Suffolk county alone. On the north fork of the island deer run through the backyard everyday, I see Herons and ospreys feeding in the goldfish pond out back. i am only a few houses away from the bay and my daughters and I walk the beaches looking for shells. We fish and Kayak. Now where I grew up out west that place looks nothing like it did. Houses are everywhere and all the woods are gone. Even out here a farmer sells off land once and awhile for a big check. It’s prime real estate and New York has some of the riches people in America living here so they put up their McMansion and try and feel like some one from the Great Gatsby…This is wall streets playground. Hampton’s on one fork and the vineyards on the other. Glad you liked the story Janet cause as you can tell I could go on and on about the subject. LOL….anyway there is a picture of Christie and Apple Jack in the post now. Thanks for the well thought out comment and excellent rating.

    1. Train,
      Thanks so kindly for those encouraging words. I am glad you love my prose, that’s enough to make a man weep. This Island means a lot to me. I could write 100,000 words about it and most of them would be praising “the place that pays tribute”, Paumanok….the Island.


  4. Dear Tom,
    “Hard to find God when nature is gone.” Your last line clinched the deal,like a wallop up the side of the head…in a good way. Beautifully written piece that almost made me stutter and stop. 😉
    One little bitty point…rodeo’s should be rodeos.

    1. Rochelle,
      See there is a little god in me, somewhere under the canopy of nature. Glad I almost made you stutter and stop….Thanks for the pickup on the rodeo thing… Must not have been thinking. It’s always good when you point out my little typos cause I will just keep reading them as if they were right. Thanks again Rochelle. I’ll be around by your blog either later tonight and it is already 12:30 or sometime tomorrow…busy weekend with my girls. Thanks for the kind words and I will be talking with you soon.


    1. Sandra,
      I am glad I was able to do a something a little different that you found enjoyable. Let the debate continue…


  5. Your story packs a punch with memories of growing up and enjoying farms and nature. Great descriptions to show the difference with how things are now, and that last sentence — wow.

  6. That was a really great story. Unfortunately devastation of farmland and green space continues at an alarming rate. Very clever how you positioned a church against the environment. Great work.

    1. Denmother,

      Sometimes the real world gives you a gift and you just have to run with it. Thanks for the kind words.

    1. Perry,
      Thank you man. Going to do my best to get around to all the blogs and I know I will get to yours for sure. It’s always good to hear from you. Thanks for the kind words.

    1. Sarah,
      Thanks for commenting. I have not been spreading the love and commenting on too many blogs this weekend but I will get around to it….The last two lines kinda sealed the deal. We both should thank my friend Christine for her picture of Apple Jack. The other pictures I found online..The picture of the church is in fact the church that replaced the ranch but I almost went and took a picture myself because the church has a huge wing on it’s left side that is big enough to have a nuclear warhead in it. They pack them in at that church and even have a show that appears on TV at some ungodly hour.

  7. I saw your reference to Levittown, and thought first, that’s on Long Island and then as I read the rest of your piece, of course it was. I lived there in Massapequa in the early 80’s. Your’s was a pleasurable read for me. Very well written, both entertaining and informative (And the unwritten words – understood but not spoken – I liked them as well.)

  8. Seems we have a few people who have lived in or do live in New York in this group….I am glad you enjoyed both the written and unwritten words. Thank you Penny!


  9. Dear Tom,

    Your story hit home on a lot of fronts. I grew up a little southwest of you in new Shrewsbury, N.J. in what was essentially farm country. Also the land of Applejack if you catch my drift. We used to take a short cut through one man’s orchard on the way to the river to fish. he was rumored to have a salt gun, too, but we never heard its report or felt the sting. The Eagles wrote of the same thing you did in their song The Last Resort. “Call someplace paradise, kiss it goodbye….” and I think it is a problem everywhere on the planet now. Humans love their babies and their babies love theirs. What to do about it? Haven’t a clue. I think it starts with education, but I’m not surer that will compete with the drive to reproduce.

    But I digress. What i most want to say is that this is your most eloquent and moving piece thus far in a growing canon of well written stories. I thought during the reading of New Jersey, Hawaii, the oceans of the world, of Fitzgerald and the Gold Coast. We have one of those on our island, too. Your home is ‘Long’ and mine is ‘Big’. Coincidence? hard tellin’ not knowin’, but what i do know is that you’re a hell of a writer and are one of the reasons I look forward to Friday.



    P.S. I’m glad your children have gotten to roam the beaches. Priceless memories.

    1. Doug,
      Let me start where you left off at P.S. I believe one of the best things you can do with your children is teach them about the outdoors. I take my daughters fishing as often as I can. My oldest learned how to cast a spinning rod by the time she was in kindergarten. We started with tossing weights into a bucket in the backyard and progressed from there all the way up to poppers with tremble hooks. Both my girls know just about every shell on the beach and can find magnetite, quartz and feldspar…I have had more than my fair share of apple jack and SoCo in the backwoods of this Long Island. I have never felt the sting of a salt gun but have braved the idea of it plenty of times. We do love our children and its a hard to see a solution for the problems they are inheriting from an over populated planet and the parents that left them with it. The drive to reproduce is the greatest drive we have…Mother nature will find an answer and more than likely it will be her shaking us off like fleas. We can only hope some of us fleas hold on and are able to start over again. Will we ever get it right? I doubt it.

      I am glad I was able to bring up so many memories for you because you paint pictures in my mind with your incredible writing skills and your love for life every Friday. To hear from you that my story hit home and that I am a hell of a writer is praise I do not take lightly. Thanks for your kind words, your beautiful picture and for taking the time out to write a well thought out comment on my blog. All the best.


  10. Tom, this is a wonderful biography and story… and this type of tale pretty much exist all across the globe. The price of progress is endless suburbia… I think we would be better of with a little bit more countryside. It would mean that more of us could find reality of the soil and sun. I think this was a great story

    1. Bjorn,
      My poet friend it is always good to hear from you. I like that line the “reality of the soil and sun”. Too many of us do no understand nature and are so far removed from her that they will never have a relationship with her other than abusing her, neglecting her and forgetting her. It’s a shame. A global problem indeed….Thanks for the kind words. I hope to get to yours and many other stories so I apologize now for being so late on commenting. It has been a long weekend filled with living and not much writing for me. Not so bad I guess.

  11. Very moving, and so appropriate for the lights-out night last night (March 23rd). Urban/suburban sprawl, light pollution, all so ugly. Have you heard what Portland is doing? (In terms of limiting its sprawl, so they build up instead of out.) Nice story!

  12. Hi Tom —

    that was good work.

    I remember when old man Cookie would chase us out of his fields with his shotgun loaded with salt. He never fired at us be we certainly ran like the blazes when he started he was going to salt our asses as he waved the gun.

    It is sad when fallow land is consumed.

    1. Bill,
      A little old field succession might be in order….It sure is sad to see so much land consumed.Thanks.


  13. This story could have taken place anywhere in the US of A. When the population goes from 110,049,000 in 1922 to 312,780,968 in 2012 you are bound to lose some land to sprawl.

  14. Tom, this is a greaty story and has obviously hit a nerve with lots of people. I often wonder which planet city and town planners are brought up on, they make the most awful decisions, leave terrible scars on communities and call it progress!

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