Category Archives: Wyckoff-Bennett Homestead

The Mud-Gutter Band


Post-1907 real photo postcard identified on back as “Ed Clark’s Band, Brooklyn, NY / X is Ed.” (Collection of Joseph Ditta)

Occasionally a small group of street musicians would find our community. On impressive brass horns which could be heard a long way off they played rollicking numbers, filling the children with excitement. Their serious, energetic approach and the loudness of their music on the quiet lanes amused the farmers who, to please their offspring, sent coins for these impromptu concerts, but among themselves, called the invaders, “The Mud-Gutter Band.” — Gertrude Ryder Bennett, Living in a Landmark (Francestown, New Hampshire: Marshall Jones Company, 1980), 65.


Copyright © 2014 by Joseph Ditta (webmaster@gravesendgazette.com)

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Filed under Bennett family, Gertrude Ryder Bennett, Wyckoff-Bennett Homestead

Dandelion Wine

Charles W. Bauhan (1861-1938), sketch of a dandelion gatherer, April 25, 1911. (Collection of Joseph Ditta)

Charles W. Bauhan (1861-1938), sketch of a dandelion gatherer, April 25, 1911. (Collection of Joseph Ditta)

In the early years of the twentieth century, after the Bennett family sold the bulk of the farmland surrounding their Gravesend homestead — the Wyckoff-Bennett House at 1669 East 22nd Street — the soil, no longer planted to crops, erupted in wildflowers. “The land, waiting to be developed, turned into meadows where as a child I gathered wild strawberries. Elderberries ripened for jelly, blackberries for pies.” So recalled Gertrude Ryder Bennett (1901-1982) in her memoir, Living in a Landmark (Francestown, New Hampshire: Marshall Jones Company, 1980). “In early spring each year, colorful dandelion gatherers came from the city with knives and worked in the meadows until almost sunset, filling huge bags and taking them away.” Gertrude’s mother, the poet Nellie May Bennett (1873-1951), penned a sonnet inspired by one of these women:

DANDELION GATHERER

A hungry hawk could be no more intent

     Than she with yellow kerchief, crimson shawl

And purple apron. Shabby, shapeless, bent

     Above the field with eager blade, the call

Of mating robins fails to flush her seamed

     And sallow cheek. Could she have been that gay

And blushing, dark eyed flower girl who dreamed

     Of love and life in newer lands one day

In Italy? . . . With bold dexterity

     She cuts the tender weeds, a silent thing

That moves from patch to patch inquiringly.

     A leaf of autumn in a field of spring.

Upon her head she lifts her bulging load

And stately, proudly takes the dusty road.

Charles W. Bauhan (1861-1938), Dandelion gathering, April 25, 1911. (Collection of Joseph Ditta)

Charles W. Bauhan (1861-1938), Dandelion gathering, April 25, 1911. (Collection of Joseph Ditta)


Copyright © 2014 by Joseph Ditta (webmaster@gravesendgazette.com)

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Filed under Bennett family, buildings, Charles William Bauhan, Gertrude Ryder Bennett, Gravesend artists, Wyckoff-Bennett Homestead