August 31, 2010
Sue Chasin Ross wouldn't have wanted to grow up anywhere else
Sue and her husband Patt. Her family was among Levittown's first 300 arrivals.
By Sue Chasin Ross, 1962
I have just been reading some of the stories on this blog. I am amazed at the memories some of these people have...the detail...I guess most, if not all, of us Levittown pioneers have nothing but wonderful memories of those long ago days.
Life was so carefree....I have often told people...as we reminisced...that the biggest decision we had was....whose house we would have a "garage" or "patio" party at. All you had to do was tell a few kids...and voila...everyone was there....ready to stack the 45's and do nothing more than dance. I hear a song from the late 1950s and I can remember who I was dancing with...and whose house we were at. There was no drinking...let alone, binge drinking...it just wasn't a part of our lives. Dancing....no matter where...was our main source of recreation.
I remember taking a camping trip with my family...across country, for most of the summer of '57....great trip...that I didn't want to go on, as I didn't want to leave my friends. As soon as we arrived home...I literally ran down to the Azalea Road pool...and no one was there. I couldn't believe it. I finally found everyone glued to the TV watching a new show...American Bandstand... Man, did that become a daily ritual for years.
Levittown was always about fun...We had the pools, the Village Greens and the bowling allies. We would stay outside till after dark, playing all those kids' games. We could jump rope for hours, hopscotch...It was a milestone when you were old enough to go to the pool by yourself. Hours of Marco Polo...follow the leader off the boards..innocent and fun. We were all good swimmers...some were very good and some were great divers. I ended up being a swimming instructor and lifeguard...years later.
Our parents were really pioneers. I know I've told you this before Frank, but how many people can say their parents moved into a town the day it opened? I can....My parents moved in on Elm Tree Lane...in October...1947, one of the first 300 families. You couldn't own a Levitt house then...only rent. My mother, still alive and with almost total recall...says the rent was about $60-70/month. My parents bought and moved to Horn Lane in 1950, for $8000. With taxes and interest, the monthly mortgage payment was less than renting, around $55/month.
I actually went to kindergarten and 1/2 of first grade at Division Avenue. Mrs. Rees...Kathy and Ellen's mom, was my first-grade teacher there and I loved her. When we moved to Horn Lane, I finished first grade in a quonset hut at Wisdom Lane. As second grade started, Northside School was open and we walked to school every day. Each year, my mom...and probably other moms...would invite our teachers home to eat lunch with us. The funny thing is...they actually came. We had an hour for lunch and many of us would walk home.
In sixth grade....our grade had to go to East Broadway, as Northside was so overcrowded. This was after a couple of years of split sessions...Levittown was growing by leaps and bounds...I met my life long best friend in 5th grade...Susan Rutkin...We've been friends for 56...(yikes) years...how is that even possible???
I loved Division Avenue. When I started 7th grade...there were only three grades...7th, 8th and 9th. You knew everyone. In our "crowd" there were 5 or 6 Susans...so we were all known by our last names...Weldon, Rutkin, Kilbride, Kalinsky, and Chasin.. When my parents moved us ALL the way over to East Meadow after 9th grade...it could have been across the country..it was so traumatic. I ended up liking East Meadow High School....but not like I loved Division Avenue.
Levittown was a very special place...with very special people...in a particularly special time. The stories in Frank Barning's Levittown blog say it all....great memories from those times. I have a million memories...but the over-riding factor is...that I wouldn't have wanted to grow up anywhere else.