September 11, 2010

For Susan Rutkin Villatore, the days growing up on Mistletoe Lane were the best any kid could wish for

Susan and Ernie Villatore with their tribe. They have been married 46 years.

By Susan Rutkin Villatore, 1962

We moved to Levittown in the summer of l954 when I was l0. My parents had sent me away for the summer because there was a polio scare in my old neighborhood of Laurelton, Queens.

Moving all the way out to Levittown was to be healthier and safer. We lived in a large house in Laurelton, and so moving into this little box was not, "movin' on up!" My mother promised to make my sister and my room exactly as we wanted it, to appease us. My sister was l3 and had just graduated from 8th grade. She was miserable; she hated Levittown, and even after graduating from Memorial in l958, went away to college still hating it.

I, on the other hand, loved everything about it. Outside my door, were boys playing stick ball, and there he was, the boy of my dreams, who I eventually married. I was the only girl on the block, with Tommy Dubose across the street, Arnie Galeota, just outside my upstairs window, Jimmy Heyward just around the corner, Ralphie DelPiano on the other corner, and eventually my cousins, the Albaum twins (Don and Ron), who moved in at the end of the block.

I met Maryann Webster that summer, and she and I would sit on the curb watching the boys play ball. I eventually gained their respect when I became the 2nd fastest runner on the block, right behind Ernie Villatore. We used to race our bikes and I was always second. As we grew up, we would go to the foundation of an incomplete firehouse in the lots off Cornflower Road. There we would smoke. I think I was 12 when we first started smoking. Arnie and I had many a good conversation across the lawn into each others window.

There are too many memories to mention, but we all seemed to keep close touch even to this day. We celebrated each of our weddings together, and the birth of our children, and mourned the death of our friend Ralphie in 2002. Jimmy Heyward still lives down the block from us, but in a different neighborhood. The days growing up on Mistletoe Lane were the best any kid could wish for.

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