September 10, 2010

Some Levittown boys had a sump to explore, Arnie Galeota and friends had a vacant lot off Cornflower Road

Arnie Galeota (left) and his pal Ernie Villatore before their senior prom. Ernie married his date, Sue Rutkin.

By Arnie Galeota, 1961
Very early Levittown had unusual landscape areas like Orchid Road's sump, as Tim Lavey commented on in the previous blog entry posted here. I lived on Mistletoe Lane, off of Cornflower Road a short walk from the small cross street that intersected the Cornflower vacant lot where I used to play baseball. The name of that little road escapes me as so much does these days. I know I had to walk it to get to school.

In that lot were these sagging wires, dead power lines I think, that hung a few feet above our heads. Every once in awhile someone got the urge to find a way to bring that wire down low enough to where a guy with two hands would grab hold of it and go for an upward ride but would invariably come back down through their own body weight. I tried it a few times and it did give me a rush but it also made me think of the consequences if on the way up I suddenly lost my grip, so I became an observer after that. I had heard that someone had broken both their legs doing that.

That empty lot was the focal point of our baseball experience as young teens. Ernie Villatore, Don and Ron Albaum, Jim Heyward, the late Ralph DelPiano, and his older brother Nick plus a few other guys who were not long-term residents of Levittown made up the baseball competition. I must add that Tom Dubose was always invited but he had a paper route that he would not give up so he was too busy making money much like he's been for these past 40 years.

We played on a surface that made the New York City pot holes look like pimples. A ground ball was always an adventure and someone usually had a bad hop hit them in the face or chest. We honed our hitting skills though and our fly ball judgment skills as well.

Jim Heyward lived on Cornflower and it was at his house that we played hooky on many an occasion. Both his parents worked and they left earlier than we left for school so we would all meet at his house every morning since it was right on the path toward our destination, the high school. We would decide if we all or just some wanted to take the day off and write an excuse note. Sometimes we all would stay home, but usually that pillar of Division Avenue Ernie Villatore would go to school because he was always involved in a team sport and there was always practice.

That little street that intersected the area was owned by the Long Island Rail Road and all of those streets that ran parallel all the way up the length of Levittown were always closed down one day every year for legal reasons to protect LIRR ownership. It was an inconvenience to be sure, but it made it's point.

I would love to have a Mistletoe Lane reunion. We had some honorary members like Sue Chasin Ross, and Bill Stanley. Seems like Stanley was everywhere you looked in those days...he got around. Jim McGrath spent more time there as well but as an older teen with a car.

Back then, Levittown was like one big playground. I was fortunate to have had a lot of kids my age to share that portion of our lives.

No comments: