Thursday, April 18, 2013

Old Bethpage

Old Bethpage is a 209-acre restoration of a village in the 1850s which opened in 1979.  I mention the date because Richie, his brother, his wife and our friend John are all long-time Long Islanders -- who have never visited the place!

It's the site of the annual Long Island Fair as well as Civil War re-enactments, baseball games in vintage outfits and regular demonstrations of hat making, blacksmithing, and running a general store and more.   In fact, the blacksmith made the flag stands for the flags that indicate which one of the 51 preserved buildings and seven reconstructed ones are open that day.

The Layton Store sells candy and the Noon Inn, a tavern, sells "birch beer" and pretzels.  Back in the day, the tavern was used like a clubhouse for the local males.  By law, the tavern had to offer a place to sleep to travelers passing through.  But you didn't rent a room with a bed and bathroom; you bought a piece of space on a single mattress! 

In the Layton Store, the guide explained a strange-looking assortment of gears with a large tub underneath them.

"This is a Two-Child Washer," the guide said with aplomb,  "One child pushes the dirty clothing through this opening and the other child works the handle that makes the tub agitate.  It was the most expensive item in the entire store at $13."  He added that during the winter when the store is closed, someone has to come in regularly to put water in the tub.  Since it's made of wooden staves, it would leak if the wood wasn't kept wet.

It was all interesting and dressing the guides in period costumes - including hair cuts - was a stroke of genius.   We all enjoyed it very much. 

"I've always wanted to wear a dress!"

This is the bath tub

The blacksmith at work

The hat maker - men's hats only

The site of the annual Long Island Fair.  This was made by the Amish who were called in due to their magnificent abilities to build structures.  There is not a nail in the entire building.

No comments: