August 6, 2010

For Pete Weiss, moving to Levittown from The Bronx was like being let out of a cage despite being terrorized by Jim McGrath

Class of 1963 alum Pete Weiss' family moved to Levittown in 1954, from The Bronx. To him, "It was like being let out of a cage."

They lived in an original Cape Cod model on Hunt Lane, off of Gardiners Avenue, two houses away from Jim McGrath (class of 1960). "He used to beat me up on a regular basis. But he and I are Facebook friends now, said Weiss." McGrath recalls that "For some reason I used to chase him every time he came outside. I really can't remember him doing anything to provoke It. We were pretty young.

"I never knew that Jim went to Division, as I didn't get there till 10th grade, 1961, and Jim had already graduated. I figured he had gone to Memorial, as you could practically see that school from the corner of Hunt Lane and Gardiners Avenue. I didn't find out he went to DAHS until I saw an email address with his name in an email blast from Marilyn Monsrud Frese. I asked her if it was the same guy I had lived near, and she confirmed it." So Weiss wrote to him and reestablished contact.

"The contrast between living in the (northeast) Bronx - in a decent neighborhood, near the intersection of Westchester Avenue and Ward Avenue - and living in Levittown was stark. As a young kid in that part of the Bronx, if you wanted open space that wasn't paved, you either went to Pelham Bay Park with your parents or you found a vacant lot.

"But in Levittown, in 1954, you LIVED in (relatively) open space. There were few fences in the neighborhood for the first few years I lived there (although the McGraths had one to keep their Irish setter Pal, from wandering), so games of hide-and-seek and ringalevio spanned several yards. The homeowners rarely complained, as most had a kid or two in the group. So, although we played stickball in the street in the Bronx and explored vacant lots, moving to Levittown, for me, really was like being let out of a cage."

Weiss went to Abbey Lane for grades three through six, then Wisdom Lane for seventh and eighth. "I was supposed to go to Levittown Memorial for high school, but I went to Division because of the electronics course that was given there." Weiss has lived in Plainview, NY since 1977.

No comments: