October 31, 2010

Part 2: Here are some categories that might have made your Division Avenue High School yearbook even more interesting


Click on photo to enlarge:

Wouldn't it has been fun to have voted on the following?
Most likely to climb the Azalea Road water tower:
Most likely to smoke in a restroom:
Most likely to intentionally start a fire in a restroom:
Most like to make the dishonor roll:

READER CONTRIBUTIONS

From Lillian Smith Handleman 1962
Most likely to sell hot watches out of the back of a van
Most likely to string beer bottles to use as wind chimes
Most likely to win a Nobel Peace Prize
Most likely to levitate
Most likely to join a circus freak show

From Susan Weldon, class of 1960
most likely to have multiple marriages
most likely to climb mt everest
most likely to live to 100
most likely to have sex with a famous person
most likely to drive cross country in a vw bus
most likely to be elected to a political position
most likely to join a cult
most likely to join the peace corps
most likely to kiss and tell
most likely to operate a bulldozer

Sue Padgett 1961
Least likely to approve of most likely awards

Jim Anton 1961: I'd like to nominate myself for "least likely to succeed". My greatest academic accomplishment was doing as little as possible to get a "C" or "65" to just barely pass, thus avoiding an ass kicking from my dad. I knew that if I passed the Regents Exam at the end of the year I would be given a passing grade. I received my Regents diploma along with all my classmates who worked so hard in the classroom.

If Mr. Reggio hadn't insisted on me taking biology I wouldn't have done it. He told my mom I was just lazy. I only took classes that my buddy Jay Citrin ( 1960) had taken the year before so I could steal his work. The only novel I ever read was in the form of a Classic Comic and my "Prose and Poetry" textbook never got cracked open.

My only saving grace was knowing I couldn't get lower then a 55, thus allowing me to get a 75 the next quarter and having a passing grade average.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN


click on photo to enlarge

Photo taken in Vermont of Lillian Smith Handleman, class of 1962, and her husband Joe. The Handlemans live in Connecticut.

October 29, 2010

The creation of the first Division Avenue High yearbook in 1960


By Dewain Lanfear, 1960

There are a couple of ways to think about the 1960 yearbook, which has been discussed previously in this blog. One could tell of its significance (nostalgia) or its location (lost long ago). No one has chosen to talk about its creation. Pages 144 and 145 of the first yearbook from DAHS has pictures of the staff that got the whole thing going. The group picture of the staff is at the top of this page. Somehow, I missed the photo shoot.

What I remember most was that we nearly missed every deadline for the production of that book, a habit I didn't break until my 40s. Anyway, Neal Manly, Karen Balos, Connie Drakos, Russ Green, Larry Bory, John General, Ellen Rees your blogger- in-chief Frank Barning and others who have the right to feel slighted that I didn't remember to list them, worked long hours the night before pages were due to put the book together. We had no model to go by and pretty much made it up as we went along. Working on the yearbook was a great excuse to miss the occasional class, but the real work was done in panic mode usually at Connie's house. Clearly it was a task worth doing.

I was editor in chief. Russ and Larry did finance (got the ads), Frank was sports editor. Other jobs were parceled out, but I have no clue who did what. Lots of people that I mentioned did a heck of a job laying out the pages and typing the captions (activities) for everyone. Also, all the underclass students had to be identified. It was a group effort, but 50 years later we know how much it was worth.

I still have my copy and I look through it once in a while to remember people and events from that time. Who knew the things that would happen, the friends we would never see again, the ones we would never lose, the way the internet would allow us to reconnect, with Frank's help. When you look at our faces in that book, who could guess the things we would accomplish, the places we would go. There was a lot of anxiety in those years, there has been much since, but except for my family, I've never been with a group that meant more to me than you all.

I have acquaintances from college, memories from the Army, colleagues from work, and former students whom I'll never forget, but none of them mean as much as the class of '60. And that's the truth. The turnout at our reunion was amazing and the satellite reunions in Vegas last April and the Key West gathering this coming February are examples of how we have stayed together.

THE READERS WRITE
Merrill Clark 1962: Bob Sharkey, in 1962, was truly the best dressed of our class but did not win the award. Bob worked at a men's clothing store and I think every penny he made went into buying clothes.

Dewain Lanfear wrote that he was witness to the validity of voting for the different categories, but in the case of my class, I don't remember a vote. I only remember that there were a number of questionable "winners", myself included. Tony Pace - most athletic? What about Gary Parker? Those are the ones that come to mind at the moment. Inasmuch as all this is history and shouldn't matter to anyone, my guess is that everything done in high school was not exactly "kosher".

Lynn Smith Dos Santos 1965: Regarding the subject of yearbooks, mine is very dear to me because I was the Copy Editor for it. In that job, somehow I got two yearbooks, one with my name engraved on the cover and the one I paid for. In 1992, I met my current husband Larry Dos Santos (Class of '64) and he also has his yearbook. I lost my college yearbook several moves ago but our DAHS yearbooks are one of our treasures in our home.

Arnie Galeota 1961: I still have my yearbook. It's kind of beat up with the 14 different times I've moved since 1993 but I have it. To me it's my memories of a fantastic time in my life, ones that I hate to let go of. It's true we can't live in the past or dwell on it either, but our lives consist of memories and those were some of the best for me.

I didn't realize then how good life really was, but I do now. A few comments made to me by a few teachers were to study harder. I guess they had the insight to know how uninterested I was in the academic portion of a school day and they tried to give me a heads up. I should have listened.

October 28, 2010

Part 1: Here are some categories that might have made your Division Avenue High School yearbook even more interesting



Wouldn't it has been fun to have voted on the following?

Biggest brown noser:

Most likely to tell a teacher "Our dog ate my homework":

Most likely to start a food fight in the cafeteria:

Most likely to be sent to Assistant Principal Aiello's office:

Most likely to be pictured on a milk carton:

Most likely to become a bookie:

Most likely to become a millionaire:

Most likely to marry a millionaire:

Least likely to succeed:

Most likely to move to Canada to avoid the draft:

Most likely to have a sex-change operation:

Most likely to eat the most lunch:

Most likely to steal your lunch money:

Most likely to attend religious services just to meet members of the opposite sex:

Most likely to be incarcerated:

Most likely to steal cosmetics from Mays:

October 27, 2010

Part 4: Division Avenue Yearbook Memories, 1960-63


Click on photo to enlarge

Best Dressed
1960 Bill Stanley and Chris Wilkens
1961 Jim Urban and Sandy Hertz
1962 Joe Morreale and Linda Kaiser
1963 Bob Benn and Mellissa Graves

Most Likely to Succeed
1960 Dewain Lanfear
1961 Tom Toscano
1962 Stephen Ashwal
1963 Jeffrey Harriton

This is the final post in our yearbook series. However, one in the works is about some categories that might have made our yearbooks even more interesting. For example, most likely to climb the Azalea Road water tower, most likely to steal cosmetics from Mays, and most likely to marry a millionaire. Stay tuned.

October 26, 2010

Concerning the 1960 Division Ave. yearbook, plus odds and ends


Click on photo of to enlarge

Dewain Lanfear 1960 yearbook editor, clears up some conjecture in the previous blog entry: The true story is that voting took place in homerooms - all seniors who cared to, voted. No nominees were presented, it was totally open ended. The votes were tallied by a committee of teachers (this is where the chance for abuses comes in). I saw the tallies in my role with the yearbook. As far as I know the process was pretty legit. The process was up and up even though that thought is a disappointment to our blogger. The media loves a scandal.

MY ART CAREER
Alice Nutini Pecoraro 1961: About my art career such as it is and it isn't much. I have always loved to draw and paint. My career was being an R.N. That took most of my time and energy with not much left for painting. I retired three years ago and now paint a lot. I belong to a studio in Greenport, way out east on Long Island's north fork. I show there and am the member of the month with 10 pictures up. Not much sells. I also make jewelry and sell that in the gallery. I will never be rich I'm afraid, but have enough to keep me happy. Eight grandchildren keep me from being lonely.

WHERE AM I FROM?
Louise Nicolosi Hayn 1960: When asked where I am from, I always say "Originally from NY but Florida is my home." I recently spent three weeks in NY and as much as I loved being with my daughter, I was happy to get back home. NY was cold and dreary and I returned to sunshine and warmth. Best move I ever made...now if only I could convince my daughter to eventually move down here, life would be perfect."

Len Sandok 1963: I always say "I'm from Levittown". My family left the Bronx when I was in 5th grade. I was too young to have any ties to it. I had great memories of the Yankees and the Stadium, but it was rough there and I hated walking to school. I started living in Levittown. I had my first girlfriend there. I bought my first car there. (I paid $35 for it. Then bought a radio from a junk yard for another $10, but that is another story,) When I go back to NY, I always try to visit Levittown, never try to go back to the Bronx.

Susan Padgett Termini 1962: "When asked where I am from, I always say Levittown. I was born in Brooklyn, lived there till I was 5 years old and went back there at 22 years of age. I met my husband there, got married there, had my first child there and then moved back to Long Island...where I still am, 40 years later.

The place I call home now is the place my husband and I are comfortable in and always happy to return to. At this point in my life, my heart is where my grandchildren are! But if I really dig down deep, home is where my fondest memories are and that, hands down, has to be Levittown!"

Merilee Flamm Kubart 1961: I say I'm from Long Island.....Levittown, Long Island. Even though we've lived in SE Pennsylvania for two years now, we'll always be Long Islanders at heart.

ON LIVING IN ISRAEL
Roya Aviva Sitkoff Harel 1961: I moved to Israel right after high school and have been living here ever since. Started college but then got married and raised a wonderful family, daughter 46 and son 43 and have five grandkids. My son lives and works in Minneapolis and is a Professor of Neuroscience who does brain research. My daughter lives in a town not too far from me and she and her husband have three, boys 23, 18 and 17. In spite of all the negative publicity lately, Israel is a great country and I never regretted for a second that I chose to live here.

WHY I WENT TO COLLEGE IN CANADA
Mj LeVan 1960 (known as Mary Jane Stevens in high school): I attended Mt St Vincent University in Halifax. I had a cousin who went there and had visited her when I was a young teen. My mother insisted that I go to a Catholic women's school if I wanted to go away to college. I think that Halifax was as far as I could get from my overbearing mother! Then I attended grad school at Dalhousie in Nova Scotia.

Yes, it was very cold and damp, but interesting because of all the foreign students and experiencing the Separatist Movement (when French people in Quebec wanted to separate from Canada and form a separate country) firsthand. I still have many close friends from college there. We had lots of Americans or Yanks, as they called us. The singer Ann Murray was a student there and a friend. She used to sing with her guitar for us in the Smoker (student lounge). I also ran into Donny and Ronny Albaum from my high school class at a frat party at Dalhousie once. They were in school there as well.

October 25, 2010

Part 3: Division Avenue Yearbook Memories, 1960-63



Click on photos to enlarge them

I really don't remember how the winners were selected, but my suspicion is that Mr. Matthews, the yearbook advisor, influenced the 1960 choices. He had a thing for one of the honorees. Two of my astute 1960 classmates were asked what they recollect.

Larry Bory stated, "I was on the yearbook staff and I never heard of a system to choose." Larry and I agree that we do not remember being asked to vote. According to Russ Green, "My only recollection is that no one could win more than one title, and Matthews decided which was the most "prestigious" title for multiple winners, if any. The Most was supposed to be for getting the most votes without a single title."

In 1960, The Most category was used, but not the next three years and probably never again.

Wittiest
1960 Ira Selsky and Lilette Levy
1961 Fred Jackson and Corinne Norgren
1962 Joe Hochen and Bonnie Green
1963 Bill Dineen and Mary Ann Galizi

Best Looking
1960 John General and Judy Lloyd
1961 Jerry Reichert and Roberta Landry
1962 Merrill Clark and Karin Christiansen
1963 Andy Ingeman and Darrae Cabre

The Most
1960 Carol Gordon and Neal Manly

October 24, 2010

Division grads share memories of their high school yearbooks


By Frank Barning
My 1960 copy of Perspectum is like a family album to me. We look so young, so innocent. Some of the inscriptions that classmates and teachers penned in my yearbook are fascinating. Several wished me luck in college, a few consoled me for being undervalued by coaches, and a few mentioned the several years we shared the same homeroom.

Miss Eisenhauer, a fabulous teacher, wrote: "Best wishes to a sincere and industrious student." That meant a great deal to me. Mr. Kalinowski asked if I were going to continue French in college. Years later, I ran into him at a Mets game and gave him a positive answer to his question.

John Mulligan and Bill Stanley both referred to the time in a junior varsity basketball game that I drove to the wrong basket. John called me "Wrong way" and Bill wrote, "Remember the time you went the wrong way with me chasing you."

Pete Cybriwsky mentioned some of the good times we shared and concluded: "These bring back memories of our past and a continuing friendship in the future." Pete died in his 20s.

The late Sterling Morrison wrote: "Don't forget the good times we had here." He was one of the founding members of the rock group The Velvet Underground. His music lives on, despite his passing in 1995.

John Reardon captured a personal lament: "To the best first baseman who ever rode the varsity bench." That should be chiseled on my tombstone.

Yes, my 1960 yearbook, Division Avenue High School's first, is a family album to me.

THE READERS WRITE
Readers of this blog who attended Division Avenue High School were asked the current status of their yearbooks.

Alice Nutini Pecoraro 1961: My yearbook is long gone, since 1969. It was a difficult year. I had to move and couldn't take anything that didn't fit in a car with my three (at the time) children. I'm sure we have all had some difficult times. When I saw Roberta Landry (1961) a few years ago, she brought the yearbooks of 1960 and 1961 and we had so much fun looking at them. My sister Ann was with us. She went to Levittown Memorial.

Marilyn Monsrud 1963: I have a four-year series...starting with the first graduating class, 1960, and ending with my class, 1963. Nothing like a yearbook to help clarify the memories. They say a picture is worth a thousand works, and it's so true with yearbook photos. It's also great to see photos of old classmates as they look now (as posted in Facebook) and then looking that person up again in the appropriate yearbook. As far as I can see, the years have been kind to DAHS grads. Must have been something in the potato field dirt!

Sandy Kelly Mincher 1961: My story is not very noteworthy but it has caused me great regret as well as an important life lesson.

When I went away to college, in Oswego, NY, I ended up staying in that small city after graduation. I liked the slow pace, friendly people, and snowy winters. After a few years my mom asked me to go through my stuff at home and take what I wanted to keep. I never thought about my yearbook being among the less important things I had left behind. Being a procrastinator, I kept putting this chore off until I completely forgot about it.

The time came, of course, when I became nostalgic for the treasured memories of my school days in Levittown. When I asked my mom where my yearbook was she told me she had thrown out all that stuff when she moved. I was devastated, but realized it was a consequence of my habit of procrastinating. One of many lessons I have learned the hard way.

Diane Dewey Adolpho 1961: I do not have them but sure wish I did. I had mine stored in a shed in Hawaii in the back of my mother-in-laws house and we had some very bad rain storms and the shed got flooded and the box my yearbooks were in got totally ruined and the books just weren't able to be saved. That was many years ago.

Ann Crescenzo Fazzino 1961: I still have the 1960 and my 1961 yearbooks. They are packed away in our attic closet with all my special memorabilia. The last time that I perused both yearbooks I laughed, I cried, and enjoyed reading all the great comments. What makes many of the comments more meaningful today is the fact that many of our classmates aren't here any longer. What they personally wrote to me has much more meaning. I don't believe that I will ever throw away my yearbooks. I cherish both of them as they are filled with wonderful memories of Levittown's first and second graduation classes at Division Avenue High School.

Dr. Michael O'Boyle 1960: Mine was destroyed by Hurricane Ike. Our house in Galveston, Texas took on 4 feet of salt water, we were not able to return for about two weeks, so pretty much everything in the house below 4 feet, especially books, was trashed. We did have good insurance, moved back after repairs about 7 months later. I like to view it as a learning experience. One bit of advice, keep an inventory of your possessions, especially big ticket items, in case you ever have to make a claim ( It's very arduous to do this after the fact; pictures or a video of your things, invoices, are of great help).

Sandy Adams 1960: Yes, I do have it! It’s not in A-One condition, but it is intact. My kids got a hold of it once when they were very young – oops!

October 22, 2010

A daunting question for a transplanted Long Islander who now lives in a nation of strangers: Where am I from?


"My home is not a place, it is people."
~ Lois McMaster Bujold

Where am I from?

If you have moved a few times, this is not necessarily an easy question to answer. We left our place of birth, the New York metropolitan area, 28-years ago to live in San Diego. After, 23 years in the warm California sun, since 2005 our place of residence is the scorching sun of Las Vegas.

Facebook members are requested to list their hometown. At first, I found this puzzling. Initially, I listed San Diego. Later, I changed it to Levittown, where I lived for only 12 years, 1954-66. For current city, I plugged in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas is a city of mostly imported residents. I hear more New York accents here than in San Diego. The first couple of years in Sin City when asked "Where are you from?", it was difficult to give a reply without stammering. I had left my heart in San Diego, but my soul and temperament were created in Queens and Nassau Counties, New York.

Having left Queens as a 12-year old, my experiences there were those of a boy, not a teenager and certainly not an adult. The dozen years in Levittown, included plunging into the confusing years of puberty. A website, KidsHealth, states that puberty is "when your body begins to develop and change as you move from kid to adult. We're talking about stuff like girls developing breasts and boys starting to look more like men."
It should also state that puberty is when boys start looking at breasts.

My guess is that where I reached puberty has something to do with my conclusion as to where I am from; growing from boy to man, becoming interested in girls, learning to drive, bathing without being told to do so and starting to think about my future as an adult.

Having given this much thought, I may still stammer the next time the question is asked, "Where are you from?" A healthy answer, one without yearning and regret, for me would be Las Vegas. That's where I live and where my wife is most happy. But, with few exceptions, most of my neighbors are strangers. We have practically nothing to talk about except the weather.

Many of my real friends are part of my online social network. Oddly, I have not seen most for decades. Some I only know via Facebook. In 1972, sociologist Vance Packard wrote a best seller, "A Nation of Strangers." It appears that I live in that nation.

Taking all of the above into consideration, the next time I am asked "Where are you from?", my unequivocal answer will be Long Island.

October 21, 2010

Part 2: Division Avenue Yearbook Memories, 1960-63



Click on photos to enlarge them

Most Athletic
1960 Pete Cybriwsky and Penny Stone
1961 Ernie Villatore and Liz Mitchell
1962 Tony Pace and Margie Pearl
1963 Pete Henaghan and Pam Davis

Biggest Flirt
1960 Tom Marchlevski and Diane White
1961 Mike Fitzgibbon and Sue Kalinsky
1962 Don Marcel and Susan Kenney
1963 Richard Schierholz and Marilyn Monsrud

October 20, 2010

Division Avenue High School Yearbook Memories, 1960-63



Click on photos to enlarge

One of the many highlights of your Division Avenue High School yearbook was the section that listed categories, with photos, such as the two shown here. We start with Most Intellectual and Most Popular.

Three similarly formatted pages will follow in the near future. They will be Most Athletic and Biggest Flirt, then Wittiest and Best Looking, and last will be Best Dressed paired with Most Likely to Succeed. I was voted least likely to succeed with the best looking girl.

Most Intellectual
1960 Russ Green and Ellen Rees
1961 Dick Siegler and Gail Bradbard
1962 John Stalberg and Vicki Tatz
1963 Danny Estow and Barbara Karpel

Most Popular
1960 Dottie Caggiano and Perry Berns
1961 Don Florman and Kathy Rees
1962 Susan Kilbride and Tom McKeon
1963 Richard Ligouri and Cathy Burner

October 19, 2010

Hempstead Turnpike near Loring Road in 1936 and 2010



Click on pictures to enlarge

Most of us early Levittowners did a great deal of driving on Hempstead Turnpike. When you were learning how to drive, this may have been the first place you cruised in serious traffic.

Hempstead Turnpike led us to Mays, Caruso's, the Meadowbrook Theater, the America On Wheels roller rink, Jahn's, St. Bernard's Catholic Church, the Israel Community Center, Wetson's, Jolly Roger, Zorn's Poultry Farms, and numerous other key locations.

For me, in the early 1960s, it was the road to classes at Hofstra. In fact, I had my first traffic accident on an icy day in 1962. It wasn't my fault. It was the ice.

At the time of this vintage picture and until 1948, the land that came to be known as Levittown was referred to on maps as Island Trees. Now Hempstead Turnpike is one of the most heavily-traveled arteries in Nassau County, a far cry from the rural road of 1936.

Photo by Marilyn Monsrud Frese, class of 1963

To see previous blog posts, check out the BLOG ARCHIVE list on the right side of this page. Click on any post you wish to view.

October 18, 2010

Class of 1961's Arnie Galeota reports on his six months in Panama



By Arnie Galeota

After living in a foreign country for six months I was ready to come home. In Panama I enjoyed the different attitude people lived their daily lives with. There was less stress trying to make a lot of money. People make a lot less money there but stretch it and manage to enjoy themselves every day. The cafes are always busy at night with the local citizenry just chilling over coffee or beer. Panama consumes more beer than any other country in Central or South America except for Brazil, which is 80 times more populated.

With all that said there is still so much more to enjoy in this country of ours. All the state of the art technology, the many amusement parks, the huge following of many sports here, the beautiful national parks and various landscapes from waterways to mountains to cities to farms and so much more. The biggest cultural difference is their priorities vs. ours. Here it's to make money and use it to make more money and finally to spend it on materialistic things and vacations. Education there is a priority which they take very seriously.

The biggest culture shock to me was their sense of getting along with one another, how friendly they are to everyone and how patient with those of us who didn't speak their language very well. I never expected that. I rarely saw anyone lose their temper. I was out of my comfort zone in Panama but it became less and less after awhile. There are large numbers of foreigners living there, some retired, some opening businesses. Many are Americans.

It's great being back in Los Angeles and my improved Spanish is a plus in this city.

October 17, 2010

Remembering some deceased members of the Class of 1960


Click on photo of Pete Cybriwsky to enlarge it

By Frank Barning
Our September 19th blog entry included the names of the deceased members of the class of 1960. Some were good friends, some were acquaintances, others I hardly knew or did not know at all. But no matter what, they are all sisters and brothers to me.

As you can see from the comments that follow, Pete Cybriwsky is fondly remembered. The gals think of him as a great dancer, the guys as a fabulous baseball player. To me he was a wonderful person with a great sense of humor. I remember his wonderful stories about playing minor-league baseball for team in Dothan, Alabama. That Pete died in his 20s and left behind a widow and three children is tragic. His wife, the former Kathy Thomas, was in junior high at Division and attended a Catholic high school.

I went off to Hofstra in September 1960 with three on the list, Mimi Brunette, Carole Arnesen and Janet Goldberg. Mimi, who never married, was a dear friend. Her smile was captivating. It chokes me up to think of her. Carole was a fabulous student and I remember that her dad was a disabled World War II veteran and that they lived behind the Northside School fence.

Janet Goldberg, who also never married, might be someone who few will remember clearly. Not me. She was a close friend in college and beyond. Both of us were deeply involved in the Hofstra newspaper and after college the old Chronicle gang, as we were called, often had parties together. Janet and I were both interested in harness racing at Roosevelt Raceway and often drove to the track together.

Stephen Zwerling was the first kid I met when we moved to Levittown in 1954. He, and others, were so welcoming to the new boy from Queens. We kept in touch over the years and my mother, who worked at the Nassau County Medical Center, often saw Steve and his wife (the former Sue Eisenberg class of 1961) there. So, I got updates on their family and his job as a deputy with the Nassau County Sheriff's Department. My classmate Don Davidson went to Steve's funeral nearly two years.

We know of 29 people from the Class of 1960 who are no longer living. At the bottom of this page, their is a list of 1960-62 deceased. We do not claim that it is complete.

Here are remembrances from some early Division Avenue people:

Jonmaire Giles (formerly Joan Corless): Pete was my protector/big brother, and I loved him, he was always there for me. He was so much more than his abilities. I didn't come to our 10-year reunion because he wouldn't be there.

Bette Connah McErlean: When I think of Pete Cybriwsky, I remember what am amazing dancer he was and how all the girls wanted to be asked to dance by him. He could have been on American Bandstand. It's sad to lose our classmates at such an early age, but it is good to remember them and how they have left impressions on all of us. Perhaps when we see these names we can share some of our fond memories.

Gary Symington Parker I remember a baseball game when I was rushing to home plate and slide into catcher's glove very hard and he wasn't very happy. He started beating up on me and guess who came to my rescue, Pete! I'll never forget his coming to the rescue of a freshman on his varsity team.

Ann Crescenzo Fazzino Pete was an awesome guy. I remember dancing with him at a sock hop and saying to myself. "I hope that I can keep up with him." He was such a great dancer.

Phyllis Hirsch Smith So many fond memories of those who have passed especially Mimi, Chris Wilkens, Ann, Mary, John "Twinky" Sweeney. I feel blessed to have grown up in Levittown.

Arnie Galeota I remember taking my first little league at bat against Pete Cybriwsky. Terrifying experience. Yes every day we have to count our blessings.

Jerry Reichert: This list makes me count every day as a blessing.

IN MEMORIAM

Class of 1960
Carole Arnesen
Richard Bachman
Diane Brown
Mimi Brunette
Pete Cybriwski
Edward Fink
Carolynn Flohl
Bruce Garabrant
Janet Goldberg
Daniel Huntley
Joan Kerrigan Koster
James Kinane
Ann LaMar
Stephen Lilienthal
Louis Lopez
Neal Manly
Eileen Maxwell
Sterling Morrison
Pat Miscovsky Noonan
Daphne Nylund
John Sweeney
Jeanne Tlockzowski
Ray Wenz

Christine Wilkens
Stephen Zwerling

Class of 1961
Al Baldwin
Bob Burner
Sheldon Dambrot
Al DiLorenzo
Frederick Ehrlein
Leo Grant
Ken Hefele
Gail Leistman
Linda Merritt
Glen Molyneux
Peter O’Driscoll
Michael Shaughnessy
Tom Toscano

Class of 1962
Charles Adams
Janice Becker
Gail Brown
John Connelly
Ralph Del Piano
Gerard Farge
Carolyn Greves Lincer
Joe Hochen
Joe Panarello
Bob Rolston

October 16, 2010

Northside School in Levittown: Mr. Donovan's 1953-54 sixth-grade class

click on photo to enlarge it

First row: Eddie Fink, Dan Huntley
Second row: Bob Bond, Jerry Cohen, Sharon Kivowitz, Theresa Flyntz, x, Karen Judge, Sharon Dumas
Third row: Sherry Kruger, Emily Estow, Joan Allibone, Beth Cummings, Jeanne Hurley, Pat Lucio, Evie Fielding
Fourth row: Jerry Benima, Ken Porter, Margery Fisher, x, Bob Castro, Neal Manly, x
Back row: Mr. Donovan, Bruce Garabrant, Richie Ostrowski, Tom Paturzo, Jimmy Pappas, Louie Lopez

Fifteen of these students graduated from Division Avenue High School in 1960. Most of them were about 11-years old when this was taken. Now those still living are 67 or 68.

Photo courtesy of Beth Cummings

October 15, 2010

Gardiners Avenue looking south from Hempstead Turnpike, late 1920s and 2010


Click on pictures to enlarge

It's difficult to imagine the land that came to be known as Levittown more than 80 years ago. But a picture is worth a thousand words.

Photo by Marilyn Monsrud Frese, class of 1963. No, she did not take both photos.

October 13, 2010

With good humor, trucks delivered food and other products directly to our doors come rain or shine



Click on pictures to enlarge

By Frank Barning
Most moms were house bound in the early days of Levittown. As a rule, families had only one car and dad drove it to work.

It was a huge help to the homemaker, known as "the little woman" in those days, that trucks delivered food and other products directly to her door. John Kinstrey, class of 1961, remembers a truck selling produce. I recall vehicles (many from Renken) selling milk, cream and butter. Borden's did a lot of business from its trucks. Milk came in glass, returnable bottles. On extremely cold days, milk would freeze and pop out of the top of the bottle, through the paper cap.

Bakery goods were peddled by Dugan's and Krug trucks. My mother, who had an off-beat sense of humor, referred to the bakery trucks as Krugan's. One of them had wonderful cupcakes. I can remember peeling off and devouring the delicious icing before eating the glorious yellow cake. The Dugan's cupcakes came with either chocolate, vanilla or strawberry icing, and the jellyrolls and coffee cakes were real treats.

If she wanted Dugan's to stop, mom put a D in a front window. There even were Dugan's toy trucks for sale, which I do not remember, but have seen offered on the internet.

Fuller Brush men vigorously worked the thousand lanes of Levittown. According to Wikipedia, "During the 1940s and 1950s, the ubiquitous Fuller Brush salesman became a cultural icon, inspiring comedy and jokes, movies, and at least one song." There was a  1948 movie starring Red Skelton called 'The Fuller Brush Man." The company is still in business and has kept up with the times, offering environmentally safe cleaning products that are nontoxic and biodegradable. I have no idea if they still have salesmen trudging door to door.

Since our homes were heated by oil, trucks delivered our fuel. Meenan Oil seemed to have a virtual monopoly and its big green trucks appeared to be everywhere in the winter. I can still smell the stench emitted by the big hose that poured out the precious black gold. The company is still in business

And, of course, Levittown had a virtual parade of ice cream trucks in warm weather. Bungalow Bar was my favorite, many preferred Good Humor, and there were lesser known brands that made a profit primarily on the personality of the driver. Midge Bollinger, class of 1960, remembers the Blue Bell ice cream truck driven by Cosmo. He only drove on the north side of Levittown.

After all these years, just about nothing tastes better than those scrumptious  Dugan's cupcakes and Good Humor Toasted Almond bars. After a Google search, it was learned that Toasted Almond bars are still being manufactured by Good Humor. Walmart and other retailers stock them. Hey, it's time to go shopping.

October 12, 2010

The final chapter: An email from one of Levittown's "Rocks"


I sent Rocky Manning a link to the blog entries about his crew, the Levittown rocks. His reply follows:

Hi Frank,
This is great reading about all of us when we were in Levittown back in the 50's and 60's. Mousy is gone, Bugsy is gone, Bumpy is gone also. Lucky is still around. Bill Kelly is ok I will see him Sunday. I made a copy for him to read

Thanks for sending this to me. They still call me Rocky.
Rocky Manning
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LEVITTOWN "ROCKS" ROSTER
Bumpy--Ed Whiting
Bugsy-- Richie O'Mack
Lucky-- Ted O'Mack
Mousy--Joe Lulenski
Rocky--Bill Manning
Lucky-- Ted O'Mack
No nickname--Billy Kelly
Others, including some girls, were on the fringe.

Notes from Tom Paturzo Baker
About Lucky O'Mack: I think his real name was Theodore. He did not want his name known.  Not cool.  I believe he adopted the name from Lucky Luciano, the gangster (at least that is what he claimed.)  He wanted people to think he was a lot tougher than he really was. He used his older brothers as a "back-up" system.

About Bumpy: Called that because of his skin condition. I always thought he was harmless, just the persona and image of being a rock. He gained some social acceptance with the "Rocks."

This story concludes our five-part series about the rocks.

October 11, 2010

Part 4: Memories of Mousy, Bumpy and other Levittown hoods


Pat Stanley Smith Share, class of 1962, added the following to her comments that constituted our previous blog entry:

As if Al's dying wasn't bad enough, to I had to go through all the details of a funeral, what's acceptable and such back then. I think he had an insurance policy where he worked valued at $10,000, as he was pretty new on the job, just a few years. I think the cost of the funeral was about that much. Guess what, the cemetery workers went on strike and no one was being buried. He died on January 10, 1970 and wasn't buried until March 17.

I no longer support the funeral parlors, they are worse than vultures Instead, I believe in ashes into the sea in environmentally correct packages that become part of the sea. And no viewings.

I also didn't mention that we had a dog, Gigi, a huge bullmastiff that was diagnosed with cancer in her front hip the day after Al died. The vet wanted a mere $5,000 to remove her leg and put her on a walker. I chose not to do this, much to the dislike of many who thought I should, she died March 17.

Arnie Galeota, 1961
The rocks were part of my world during high school. Fortunately, I survived. I lived on Mistletoe Lane which was less than a half mile from Mousy's house on Cornflower Road. Fortunately, there were five or six of us who lived on that same block, the Albaum twins being two of them. We were all everyday friends playing sports until dark, not including Mousy, who name was Joe Lulenski.

Ron and Don Albaum were in the same class in school as Mousy, so they knew him well enough to say hello without running the risk of getting their legs broken. One morning we were walking to school and we came upon Mousy's house and we was coming out to make his trek to Division Avenue, one of the rare days he decided to attend. We were about 15-years old and he was 28. Just kidding.

As we were walking behind him, Don Albaum, in all his playful antics yells out, "Mousy is not a faggot, Arnie!" Well, Mousy turns around and looks at us and sees it's Don and smiles. I returned home to put on a clear pair of underwear.

Warren Zaretsky, 1960
One quiet afternoon at Whalen's, Bumpy came and sat next to me at the counter. He said, "You're a smart guy and I need your advice, but if you tell anyone about it I'll beat the shit outta ya." He looked around to make sure no one was listening and said, "I want to learn to read better. Can you pick a good book for me to read that's not too hard." Unfortunately Whalen's book rack was out of Sartre's "Being and Nothingness," so I chose "Moby Dick" for him. I never heard back from him (or got a harpoon in my back) when he ran into Queequeg, Tashtego or Fedallah, but he always gave me a little smile and a wave.

Jack Jacobsen, 1962
On a cold and windy day in early November I was helping Richie Alexander sell pretzels outside of Mays department store. As were shivering and just trying to keep warm from the heat of the pretzel cart, Bugsy comes strolling out of Pergaments. The day before he and his brother harassed us about giving them free pretzels. We gave both of them a pretzel and they kindly thanked us. It was our security blanket!

Bugsy was wearing a denim jacket, which had seen better days. He stopped at the cart, asked us how the pretzel business was going and preceded to take the jacket off. We weren't sure what was going on but figured either Richie or me was in for a hard time. He tossed the jacket to me and said, "Jacobsen, hold my jacket, but if I'm not back in 10 minutes throw it in the trash." He turned and entered Mays.

About 10 minutes went by and I decided to toss the jacket. About 5 minutes after out comes Bugsy with a nice leather jacket on and smiling. He waved, said hello, and kept on walking. Just another routine day in the Rocks' life.

Ann Crescenzo, 1961
I remember when I was in 7th and 8th grade Bumpy went to Division Avenue. I once spoke to him and realized that he was very shy. I believe that's why he was a rock, to put on a persona to hide behind. The only thing different about Bumpy that I witnessed was the black clothes that he wore and his put-on tough guy attitude to mask his true identity..

Tony Moors, Levittown Memorial 1960
The mention of Bumpy brought back some memories. I heard he got that nickname after being hit by a 2 by 4 and not being phased. I remember driving a 1950 Hudson by the drug store at the corner of Division and Hempstead Turnpike.

As we passed, someone mentioned they knew or talked with Bumpy's girlfriend. Bumpy wasn't pleased and recognized the culprit in my car. Next thing I knew we were being chased by a car full of maniacs. We went down the Turnpike into East Meadow and someone said "make a left." It was a dead end!

Around the corner came Bumpy and his crew but drove past me before they got out with their hardware (bats and such). Lucky for me I was able to put it in reverse and blast out of there. I guess they had enough fun for the night because they didn't follow. That was another fun night driving with a junior license in Levittown. I did have a great time as a kid.

Sue Chasin Ross, 1962
I remember all the names but Bumpy mentioned in a previous blog posts....I remember almost being in "awe" of them...wanting to emulate one thing they did....wear my collar up. (Obviously, not something deep or thoughtful) Who knew that would be considered "preppy" years later? They all wore there cigarettes rolled in their T-shirt sleeves...they had DA's...for haircuts...and plenty of Brylcream...or whatever....to put in it to keep it slicked back. Looking back, they are almost a caricature of what the movies and TV have come to characterize over the years of that type of kid.

I doubt I ever exchanged one word with them....but sure knew who they were. Was I scared...they all had reputations...so maybe I was.

I thought most of them went to Memorial instead of DAHS. I also wonder what happened to them and what they would have been like, if in school today? Were they the Levittown equivalent of NYC gangs....being first generation Levittowners? I wonder what they remember of those days and if they realize what an impact they had on so many kids then.

It's funny how there are lines drawn in high schools...groups, crowds, whatever you want to call them...that attract kids of the same thinking. Having taught high school on Long Island for 20 years... they are easy to spot. Not so different from all those years ago...just different names and different styles. There are no longer "rocks or hoods", but jocks, Goths, preps, geeks, and the equivalent of them would probably be the ones some refer to as "dirtbags". We always want to find someone or some group to fit in with, especially in high school.

"Dirtbags" is a term I never used...the kids actually used it about themselves...and other kids would use it as a reference. I always enjoyed having them in class and they never gave me a problem. My chairperson often made note of the fact that I got along so well with them. Maybe I was a "latent rock" in my earlier life...who knows?
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To see previous blog posts, check out the Blog Archive list on the right side of this page. Click on any post you wish to view.

October 10, 2010

PART 3: A WIDOW'S MEMORIES OF AL SMITH, A GREAT HUSBAND AND DAD


In the previous two blog posts about Levittown's rocks, Al Smith has been prominently mentioned. Pat Stanley Smith Share is pictured above.

By Pat Stanley Smith Share
Class of 1962

As most of you know, I was married to Al Smith until his death. Yes he was 29, we had three children, ages 1 1/2, 4 and 5, I was 26. It was nice reading the comments about Al and the Rocks and I'm sorry to say I do not remember most of the others, just Al.

When we first met I thought he was very handsome and I was a bit curious about his background. Turns out he was a sweet guy, his language needed some fine tuning and I remember helping him in that area, not cursing as much as bad English, very bad English!

I skipped school, one day, which I really never did, because it was a beautiful day and a few of us wanted to go to Jones Beach and Al asked me to go with him, our first date, I was kind of shocked but flattered and we had a great time, from that point on we stayed together. After about a year we eloped and I think Karen Hogan and Jimmy Witteneben stood up for us. Al had been engaged to another but they had broken up long before we dated, he seemed very mature in the way of life to me and I think that is what I liked about him.

His death was devastating to all of us, his father died not long before Al, he had three surviving siblings two teens and one age ten, his mom, understandably was a wreck. His dad also died of a heart attack. While married to Al I became very close with his family and when his dad died we, Al and I, helped raise his brother and sisters, so at the ages of 20 and 23 we had a pretty big family, he and I had 2 kids and another on the way.

He got a good job with the Long Island Railroad and was working there at the time of his death. After his death I remained close with his family, his brother and younger sister both died very young leaving young children. His remaining sister is still living and we are still close.

Sorry this seems sad but it was what it was. Al was a great husband and dad. As many of you know he was a health nut, didn't drink, no drugs, ate healthy food, worked out, his heart failed him and the rest of us.

Thanks for the nice comments everyone.

October 8, 2010

Part 2: Memories of Mousy, Bumpy and other Levittown hoods


Below are comments about the guys we early Levittowners referred to as "rocks".

Tom Paturzo Baker, 1960
I enjoyed knowing the rocks and was not afraid of them. I found them capable of compassion and all other decent human qualities. The leather jackets and motorcycle boots were a defense against the slings and arrows of our society. They were part of our teenage culture, a reflection of the film media, “Blackboard Jungle” and the “Wild Ones.” The movie "Grease" finally corrected the myth.

Al Smith was a friend of mine. He died at 29, and was a rock who had many excellent human qualities. I could name others who would never harm anyone and treated all with respect. Most of the rocks lived in a fa├žade of toughness as a means of self-defense. They lived in as much fear as anyone. We all had fears and identity problems in those days.

I always liked people who were different. It would be boring if everyone were the same. They challenged our cultural mores and norms and made me think. I liked to talk to the scholars for the same reason. They were not geeks, simply people with different points of view.

Some rocks made the transition into adulthood, graduated from high school, college and a few became teachers. We should avoid stereotyping the rocks as a group. I never regretted knowing the rocks personally. Most would standup and help you if you were in trouble.

Skippy McCarthy 1962
In his "Defense of the Rocks", Tom Paturzo Baker states, "I enjoyed knowing the Rocks and was not afraid of them". Well hell, if I had Tommy's 18-plus inch biceps in 1957, I wouldn't have been so scared of them either. In 1957, you could pick me up by my hindquarters and still have a free hand for groceries. And that's no lie.

In the previous blog entry, no one mentioned the toughest and probably most gracious of them all, and that was Billy Kelly. Pound for pound he was probably the toughest of that whole group. However, the wild nicknames like Bugsy, Mousy and Lucky seemed to highlight the others.

I got to know Billy, for some unknown reason, when I was at the North Village Green one day and he realized my name was McCarthy and like he, an Irishman. He obviously couldn't smell my fear as a lion could. He asked questions of me, this was in 1957, that at this moment I can't recall, and we had an amicable exchange. Over the next few years we'd see each other here and there and I would always respect his domain, and he would acknowledge and say hi. And surprisingly it would never change.

One afternoon in 1960, I'm 16 years old, and at my house on Periwinkle Road, around the block from Azalea Field, when my 10 year-old brother Jerry comes home crying about a group of guys who took his football at Azalea. My WW II generation father looks at me and says, "Skippy you need to go over there and get Jerry's ball back." No problem.

As I'm walking from our house to Azalea I ask my brother who was it that took your ball and he says "Some guys named Mousy, Lucky, Bugsy, etc." Talk about your legs starting to turn to Jell-O. So on one hand I have to face the wrath of "Joe McCarthy Sr. " or on the other the "Rock & Rollers" of Bugsy, Lucky, etc. My life, as short as it was at that time, started to pass before me.

When I arrived at Azalea my worst feelings proved accurate. There were Mousy, Lucky, Bugsy and others from their crowd. Fortunately, there also was some pretty good guys from their crowd like Ernie and Gabe Navarro and Billy Kelly. I saw Billy and approached to explain my predicament. Immediately I had the football back. He was an OK guy, in my book, and I often wonder whatever happened to him.

Yes, I was in the class of '62 at Division Avenue High School, unlike Tommy in '60. But as a younger observer at Azalea Pool and other places, we had the advantage of seeing and being there for all kinds of events. Al Smith, who was held in respect by the rocks, was a great husband and father and left this world a heck of a lot sooner than he should have. May he rest in peace.

Arnie Galeota, 1962
I would have to agree with Skippy's evaluation of the futility of trying to stand up to these guys who were street wise and street tough.

I too was slight of build with no muscles to be found. Through a lot of hard weight lifting, Tom Paturzo Baker had gotten my share of allotted muscles and some of Skippy's too. His biceps were as big as my waist at that time so naturally these "rocks" gave him his due.

I would agree with Tom that they were trying to make a statement with the attitude they carried around and by the way they dressed. Antiestablishment became fashionable with the showing of movies "Rebel Without a Cause", "The Black Board Jungle" and "The Wild Ones" and the tremendous popularity of Elvis Presley.

Being a scrawny kid who had barely experienced the world, I wasn't wise enough yet as to their motives. All I knew was that they were different from most of the people I hung with and I kept my distance as a matter of survival.

I do remember Billy Kelly well. I went to Northside School with him and we were friends, not close friends, but friends. He was always a little distant. When I was in my senior year I had heard rumors that he was seen many nights walking the streets of Levittown after he had been drinking and beating up total strangers for no apparent reason.

It was a rumor never substantiated, but he was a loner and he did seem troubled. He had done some boxing and he was tough so the rumors were believable.

Bumpy came from the other side of Levittown, the Memorial side. Al Smith was close to Bumpy, but Al didn't seem to have to prove anything. He knew he was tough and he never went around intimidating people. He was a nice guy who did have a good marriage with a nice family and was tragically taken all too soon.

Let us not forget guys like Joe Detore who had the need for attention and fulfilled that need by doing outrageous things. He was very short but compensated for that by being strong and aggressive. Sadly he too has passed on.

Michael Haag 1961
I knew Billy Kelly, but it was really my father who knew him well and liked him. Part of the connection was my mother, who was born in Dublin, maiden name Maguire. But there was also my father's upbringing. His father emigrated from Hermuthausen in Germany to London, married there and then emigrated further, to America. He died young, age thirty, of typhoid, in Hannibal, Missouri, and his widow, my grandmother, who was only twenty-five, returned to London with her three children.

That was before the First World War. Times were very hard, and she raised her children in the toughest part of London, the East End, where my father learned to stand up for himself -- which meant learning how to fight. I think he recognized something of himself in Billy Kelly, especially so when Billy took up boxing. My father always thought Billy was very bright, not to mention charming, and encouraged him to keep on with his education, to make something of himself.

But at some point Billy Kelly disappeared from the scene. Dropped out of school and attempted a boxing career, I think. I know nothing about him. He had the makings of success about him, did Billy Kelly, if he could have gotten out of his rut. Anyway, he did not become heavyweight champion of the world otherwise I would have noticed, nor president of the United States.

If you have memories of Levittown's rocks that you would like to share, email them to fbarning@cox.net. At least one more post about Bumpy, Mousy, Bugsy and friends will appear in Frank's blog.
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Hoods, not Levittown's rocks, were immortalized in this song from 1955. None of our rocks had motorcycles but the song does describe how they dressed and captures a long-gone era.

BLACK DENIM TROUSERS AND MOTORCYCLE BOOTS

[Words and Music by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller]

He wore black denim trousers and motorcycle boots
And a black leather jacket with an eagle on the back
He had a hopped-up 'cycle that took off like a gun
That fool was the terror of Highway 101

Well, he never washed his face and he never combed his hair
He had axle grease embedded underneath his fingernails
On the muscle of his arm was a red tattoo
A picture of a heart saying "Mother, I love you"

He had a pretty girlfriend by the name of Mary Lou
But he treated her just like he treated all the rest
And everybody pitied her 'cause everybody knew
He loved that doggone motorcycle best

He wore black denim trousers and motorcycle boots
And a black leather jacket with an eagle on the back
He had a hopped-up 'cycle that took off like a gun
That fool was the terror of Highway 101

Mary Lou, poor girl, she pleaded and she begged him not to leave
She said, I've got a feeling if you ride tonight I'll grieve
But her tears were shed in vain and her every word was lost
In the rumble of his engine and the smoke from his exhaust

Then he took off like the Devil and there was fire in his eyes
He said, I'll go a thousand miles before the sun can rise
But he hit a screamin' diesel that was California-bound
And when they cleared the wreckage, all they found

Was his black denim trousers and motorcycle boots
And a black leather jacket with an eagle on the back
But they couldn't find the 'cycle that took off like a gun
And they never found the terror of Highway 101

October 7, 2010

Part 1: Memories of Mousy, Bumpy and other Levittown hoods


The photo is of Marlon Brando in the 1953 motion picture, "The Wild One." When a girl asks him "What are you rebelling against, Johnny?," he answers with "What do you got?"

Tim Lavey, class of 1963, posted the following in Facebook:
I like to think I started as a seventh grader at Division Avenue at the very close of the hood era (1957). I'll always remember my very first day. As I looked out the window, someone pointed out to me a guy named Mousy Lulenski in black leather, DA haircut, etc. pacing the school grounds. I was told he had just been released from reform school and that he could not enter the high school. I don't know if any of it was true, but it certainly made an initial impression on me.

By Frank Barning
Tim Lavey's comments triggered the idea that much could be posted here about the era that he had so innocently entered. Hey, I actually knew Mousy.

The hoods, my 1960 classmates called them "rocks", were tough-looking guys (and some dolls) who frequented our school and community. They had some great nicknames: Mousy, Bumpy, Lucky, Rocky and Bugsy. Most had DA (duck's ass) haircuts, even the girls. About 20-years later, this era was nostalgically glamorized by fictional characters such as Danny Zuko in Grease and The Foz of Happy Days fame.

They were called rocks because they considered themselves to be “hard” guys. By today’s standards, they were pretty tame, but back at Division Avenue High School in the late 1950s and early 1960s, they certainly stood out from the rest of us who were mostly pure white bread. I doubt that Mousy had been to reform school, but it helps to build a legend.

Most of us knew some of the rocks. In junior high at what was known as Division Avenue School, in 1954 Mousy (Joe Lulenski) entered my world and at first I was a bit scared of him. He was this skinny little guy who smelled of Lucky Strikes and always wore a motorcycle jacket. He also wore an attitude that told the world to screw off.

For some reason, out of nowhere, he wanted to be friendly with me and would give me a wave and a hello in the school halls most mornings. After getting comfortable with that, I started to reply “Hello Mousy.” After a couple of hello Mousys, he took me aside and said, “What’s my name?” I replied “Mousy.” His reply was, “No, my name is Joe,” and he punched me on the arm.

The next time we met in the hall, I greeted him with “Hello Joe.” He grabbed me by the shoulders, punched me on the arm and stated, “My name is Mousy.” For awhile, no matter what I called him, it was the wrong name and I got a punch.

Eventually, I got a smile with the punch and the punch became a tap. There never was any malice on his part and I looked forward to the exchange. I’m sorry that I never thought to ask him how he got the nickname Mousy.

The most well known of the Levittown rocks was Bumpy, who attended Levittown Memorial High School after some time at Division during junior high. The Bump roamed all over Levittown with his crew and was a legend. His name was Ed Whiting. Few know that the famous song, “Leader of the Pack,” was loosely based on Bumpy. It was written by Ellie Greenwich who graduated from Memorial in around 1957.

Susan Weldon 1960
i was in the same sorority as ellie greenwich at hofstra and she and i shared stories about bumpy. many years later she starred in a broadway play about her and jeff barry and i went to see it and waited outside the stage door. she remembered me and we chatted about levittown and hofstra and it was then that she told me that the leader of the pack was bumpy.

i was always fascinated by the "rocks" and got along pretty well with them. i loved al smith. he was a gentle man. Bumpy i could do without.

Here are other recollections of Mousy:

Rich Humbert, 1960
My memories of Mousy: Crusty but benign. For a while in junior high, he was my idol and role model...a short while. But I remember once while we were waiting for music class to start, Mousy sat down at the piano and began to play a really rockin' boogie
woogie. As soon as, the music teacher, Miss Stahman, entered he stopped and slouched back to his seat somewhat embarrassed.

Jeff Lincer, 1960
What happened to all the kids that dropped out or were tossed out of school? You remember those "greasers" who moved out from the city and most of the student body feared.

In a way they were unforgettable to me but I have a feeling they have been forgotten by most. What happened to the “hoods” and the others that didn’t have an adult to guide and encourage them? What happened to Joe “Mousy” Lulenski and his lieutenant, “Lucky” O’Mack? What ever happened to Lucky’s younger brother “Bugsy” who was a great gymnast until he got sucked into the gang?

I knew them mostly because they hung out at Whelan’s Drug where I worked. My Mom, who also worked there, once told me (many years later) that Bugsy turned out OK and even brought his new wife in to meet my Mom one day. That made me feel badly, since I had broken his leg in two places in a fight just outside Whelan’s.

There was another tough kid, Jimmie Wittneben, who saved my bacon once and I’ll never forget him. Did any of them get a helping hand or another opportunity to get an education? Most of them dropped out of school when they were about 16 (around 1958). What did they make of their lives?

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If you have memories of Levittown's rocks that you would like to share, email them to fbarning@cox.net. At least two more posts about Bumpy, Mousy and friends will appear here. Remember, Grease is the word

October 5, 2010

CULTURE CAME TO US VIA THE BOOKMOBILE


You may remember a TV commercial with the jingle-like theme song, "It's the latest, it's the greatest, it's the library." But do you remember Levittown's blue bus-like bookmobile?

In the late 1940s and 1950s, most families in our cozy little part of the world had only one car. Dad took the vehicle to work, leaving mom stuck at home while the kids had to get around by foot or bicycle. Car pools were a thing of the future.

The Barnings had a 1947 Studebaker which one friend described as having the color of vomit. Dad worked six days a week and the Studebaker spent many hours at the Hicksville railroad station.

Getting to the library, unless you lived within walking distance, was a Saturday thing. My family moved to Levittown in late 1954. According to Levittown historian Lynne Matarrese, "The Levittown Public Library opened its doors on June 30, 1951 at the South Village Green with a 3,000-book collection." That was a long haul for those of us who lived on the north side. The current library on Bluegrass Lane opened 12-years later. Three hundred houses were occupied starting on October 1, 1947, so the town was without a library building for nearly four years.

Fortunately for those of us who enjoyed reading, Levittown had a bookmobile. It had a specific route around town and our family calendar was sure to include a notation of its next stop near our home on Hyacinth Road.

I was wondering when the bookmobile program started, how many vehicles were in the fleet (probably there was only one) and how often did one arrive at the stops on its route? When was this service discontinued?

I emailed a few old friends, asking them to provide information that I did not have and to contribute their bookmobile memories. The response was sparse. Some had no memory at all and two said they didn't read books.

What follows are memories from three of my contacts who remember the bookmobile:

Midge Bollinger Finck, 1960
I remember it coming to the front of Mays on Friday nights. Pat Kraft, Flo Cornell and I used to be there waiting. The gentleman who drove was still driving the bookmobile in the 1980s and he always drove in the Memorial Day parade.

Bill Newman, 1963
I remember the bookmobile coming down Carnation Road. I had no thought of ever going into it. Books, school or anything that had to do with learning was not the highest priority for me or the crowd I hung with.

We were more interested in distracting the Good Humor man and stealing ice cream from him. We played poker for cigarettes and when they got so ragged we smoked them or repacked them.

Lillian Smith Handleman, 1962
Whenever the Bookmobile rolled onto our street, my mother would insist I take out a book. It was a special occasion to look forward to--like the ice cream man coming, or the Dugan's pastry truck, or the milkman delivering glass bottles of milk to our doorstep. The first book I ever borrowed from the bookmobile was Pippy Longstockings. I can't believe I remember that.

October 4, 2010

Kids learned the hard way when they messed with our teachers


By Beth Cummings, 1960
One day in art class a student (one of those scary, leather-jacketed hoods) who was sitting at my table got rude and belligerent with Mr. Cetnarowski. I was (as usual) daydreaming, so I completely missed whatever precipitated the incident. When I looked up, the guy had stood up, turned around from the table and was taking a swing at Mr. C’s face.

We were all stunned. Here was this tough hood who was probably in fights all the time (and maybe even carried a knife in his boot) about to beat up a small, defenseless art teacher. (How little we knew – we later heard that Mr. C was a former U.S. Marine.) Mr. C easily blocked the punch and then clipped the guy under the jaw – the hit wasn’t hard, but it was perfectly targeted, and the kid sailed over the art table and landed on the floor next to the windows on the other side.

Mr. C told us to get back to our work and be quiet until he got back, then he grabbed the not-so-tough kid by the collar and escorted him to the principal’s office. We all just sat there holding our breath and listening as the crashing sounds of the kid ricocheting off the metal hall lockers faded in the distance.

For a student coming to DAHS as a 7th grader, just walking in the corridors was a really overwhelming experience. Unlike in grammar school, you had to go to a different room for every class, it was sometimes hard to remember how to get where you were going. The halls were always crowded and everybody was so much bigger than you were that sometimes you couldn’t see the numbers on the classroom doors. There was very little time to get to your class before the bell rang.

Often the halls were crowded, like a Manhattan subway stop at rush hour, and the big kids would push the smaller kids out of their way. Miss McGuigan, who taught Latin, was about the size of most junior high students – five feet tall or so, and slim. I happened to be walking a little behind her one day when a tall guy, mistaking her for a student, gave her a shove. "Move it, girlie!," he grunted. I saw her touch his hand, and suddenly he was flat on his butt on the floor, staring up at this tiny little teacher!

Here's another memory. The bell had just rung and I was walking very briskly ("No running in the halls!") to get to my next class. I saw a few other last-minute stragglers desperately darting down the stairs and around the corner. Mr. Simes stepped out of his classroom to check the hallway just in time to see someone zip around the corner and start to bound up the "down" stairway. "Hold it right there, young man!," roared Mr. Simes. He grabbed that little offender by the back of the neck right off the third or fourth step, stood him at the foot of the stairs, and turned him around to "face the music." It was Mr. Danieux, another teacher.

October 3, 2010

BIG DAY FOR YOUR BLOGGER AND HIS BRIDE, PERHAPS


By Frank Barning
Sunday morning. It's early here in Las Vegas. I can't sleep, been up for awhile.

Mostly my blog posts are about what it says at the top of the page, Early Levittown.....

Not today, not this morning. This one is for me.

Since 1952, that's 58 years, I have been a baseball fan. Not a casual fan. A fanatic. And that fanaticism has grown over the years. First it was the Brooklyn Dodgers, then the New York Mets and when we moved to San Diego in 1982, the Padres became my team.

I live and die with my team. Each winter, I can't wait for a new season to begin. I embrace the phrase, "Life begins on opening day." Winter sports are a filler until baseball. After my wife and grown-up son, baseball is the most important thing in my life. Judge that as you wish, but it is my truth.

If you follow baseball, you know the Padres' situation as we enter today. A baseball season, not including playoff games, is 162 games. Through 161 games, the Padres are one measly game behind the San Francisco Giants. What are the odds? The Padres and the Atlanta Braves are in a deadlock for the wild card position. Two of the three teams will make the playoffs.

The Padres play at San Francisco this afternoon. My team faced sudden death the last two days but both times we defeated the Giants on their home turf. Here we go again this afternoon. Can't sleep, can't wait.

Hard-core fans of any sport live for days and situations such as this. We also die when the result is negative. But, ah the memories that are possible.

Top of the heap for me are the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers and the amazing 1969 New York Mets. Both teams won the World Series. I have seen highlights of key games literally hundreds of time. Tears still come to my eyes when I see the final outs. Pee Wee Reese throws to Gil Hodges and Brooklyn finally has a championship; Cleon Jones snags a fly for the Mets who upset a great Baltimore Orioles team.

Vivian, my dear wife, is as huge a baseball fan as I. We share the joy, the pain, all the emotions. And we will share today, win or lose.

POSTSCRIPT
The party is over. My Padres lost to the Giants, 3-0, to close out an unexpectedly fabulous season. As I learned as a Brooklyn Dodgers fan in the early 1950s, "Wait till next year."