June 12, 2011
Woof, woof .. Photos of Division Avenue graduates when they were children, this time with their beloved dogs
Click on photos to enlarge
By FRANK BARNING
Dogs were popular with early residents of our town, probably because there were so many children. Kids usually want pets and dogs are often the first choice.
Some of us got stuck with goldfish, which often died within a few days, if not hours, of arriving home from Woolworth in a plastic bubble-like bag. My home usually had a parakeet which we pretended could talk. The one we had the longest was named Gilly, after Gil Hodges of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
My mother had a friend with a thick Scottish accident. Mary Fleming's parakeet was named JoJo and he could say his name, "Wee JoJo" with an accent resembling Mary's. Or so my mom and Mary thought.
Many Levittowners had parakeets. They were inexpensive to buy and feed. I don't remember any that were taken to a vet, which was costly for dog owners. Occasionally a parakeet would escape a Levitt home and it was not rare to see one in a tree. Unlike homing pigeons, parakeets never returned to their cages.
As I recall, and this was more than 55 years ago, most of the dogs in Levittown were mutts. There were few high-class dogs of pure breed. Maybe the pooch population was a reflection of Levittowners, and I mean that in a kind way. One of the charms of our town was that there were hardly any people who put on the dog, just hard-working moms and dads, with sons who delivered newspapers and shoveled snow for spending money.
I also remember that if a family let it be known that it wanted a dog, a neighbor or three would advise them to go to the Bideawee because it had plenty of canines for adoption and the price was only a few dollars.
Sadly, I report that the venerable Bidawee now offers "Yoga with Your Dog" as well as "Mutts and Mimosas" and "Reading to Dogs". And don't get me started on the subject of pet cemeteries.
According to the kennel's website it was "Founded in 1903 by Mrs. Flora D'Auby Jenkins Kibbe. Bideawee, which means 'stay awhile' in Scottish, is one of the oldest humane organizations in the United States."
It might cause you to wonder if Bideawee was in Wee JoJo's vocabulary?
Early Levittowners depicted below with their pups are:
* Marilyn (class of 1963) and Susan Monsrud (class of 1965) in 1948 or 1949 with their dog Sparkey. Marilyn wrote: "My dad was in the Army Air Force in WW2 and found him as a little pup in an airplane hanger. He brought him home hidden in his flight jacket for the whole flight. Such a great dog."
* Marilyn Monsrud, class of 1963, and her dog Teddy in 1958 when she was 13 years old. What happened to Sparkey?
* Toni Crescenzo Gelfer, class of 1968, about four years old with her big brother Jimmy who graduated from Levittown Memorial High School in 1959.
* Tim, class of 1963, and Mitch Lavey (wearing hat) with Sarge, circa 1955. According to Tim, "I was about 10 and Mitch was eight. Sarge was a stray my dad found on a roofing job. The picture was taken on the front lawn of our 173 Orchid Road house."