September 9, 2010
Early 1950s memories of Orchid Road and the glorious sump
Tim Lavey calls the above photo of he and his brother Mitch, "Building Levittown."
click on the picture to enlarge it
By Tim Lavey, class of 1963
My brother Mitch and I lived at 173 Orchid Road, between Skimmer Lane and Violet Lane (about halfway between Jerusalem Avenue and Newbridge Road). The picture was taken behind our house before the sump was built.
You can see an old culvert behind my brother Mitch's head. He graduated from Division Avenue in 1965.My guess is that it was late 1950 or early 1951. The houses in the background are probably those on the southern leg of Blacksmith Road." According to Jeff Peyton, class of 1961 and my childhood friend, "The sump was even with, or just south of the Old Motor Parkway, a place to my young eyes that was filled with wildflowers and Queen Anne's Lace, oversized brown locusts, and toads. I loved that place."
I remember one time a whole bunch of us were hiding out around the culverts in the underbrush playing war games in the early evening just as it got dark. My dad sneaked up on us and shouted to wake the dead. I’ve never been so scared in my life. As he took my brother Mitch and me back to our house, I can remember him lecturing us on properly setting up a perimeter to avoid being surprised by the enemy. September 4 is my dad’s birthday. He would have been 90 this month. He passed away in 1995 after a considerable struggle with the effects of Alzheimer’s. I miss him greatly, of course, and so do all those who knew him.
I also have wonderful memories of days exploring the forbidden tunnels inside the sump. We weren’t supposed to be in the sump much less going into those tunnels, but it seems that almost everyone did it. I forget just how far I crawled under the streets of Levittown exploring the sewer system, but I believe I got pretty far north. I remember being somewhat frightened about not being able to back track to the sump after making too many twists and turns into and through adjacent underground tunnels. It would have been exceedingly embarrassing to have become hopelessly lost and then ignominiously extricated by town authorities.
One more thing comes to mind. I recollect that before the sump was built in the very early ‘50s that we had major flooding all along Orchid Road during a heavy rain. I think my dad was out back with other dads doing what they could to stop the water from cascading into our yards and houses. I always thought (incorrectly I’m sure) that the sump was built shortly thereafter because that flooding had occurred. It’s much more likely it was already on the drawing board.
Photo courtesy of Tim Lavey