March 27, 2012

Levittown and its water tower still have a magnetic pull on those who lived there in the beginning - Part 1

Many of us old Levittowners still have a special attachment to the home of our youth. What follows are comments about the water tower and the Zippy cartoon that appeared in the blog on March 21. We have a personal attachment to a town, a time and place from so long ago.

Lillian Smith Handleman (1962)

I copied the water tower photo and the Zippy cartoon and will frame them together, I think. This cartoon about the tower is a little spooky, however, in that it does express the whole "going back in time" Levittown phenomenon. The cartoon expresses the secret longings of those who grew up there and can't seem to escape its magnetic draw. Levittown memories carry us back, time and time again. Something about Levittown...I don't know what it is.

Russ Mulroy (Levittown Memorial 1961)

The cartoon raises an interesting question: do we really mentally age or are we stuck at 16 - 17 internally and why such love for things that happened 50 years ago? Maybe missing our youth is the answer.

Dewain Lanfear (1960)

Regarding the water tower, I have nothing to contribute since my only experience with it was to walk past it on my way to Rich Humbert or Joan Lucas's house. However on the topic of never growing beyond our high school days ("Zippy" and Russ Mulroy) I have some thoughts.

For good or for bad, few of us would deny that our days in high school were important formative ones. Most of us learned through experience what worked for us and what didn't. Teens typically try different personas, as most parents can attest. Some work and some don't.

Come to the reunions and see how easy it is to recognize and reconnect with long time friends. (note I avoided the use of "old"). That's because we've simply become "high school us" 2.0. Research has shown that our taste in clothes, food, and music all are formed between ages 17-24. We really are very much who we were in high school.

Being interested in that time doesn't show a lack of moving on, but rather an attempt to put some puzzling aspects of our lives in perspective. Events that occurred 50 years ago look different today than they did on the day they happened. Who cares? Well, I think the unexamined life is not worth living (not an original thought by a long shot), so trying to make sense out of our teen angst might help us understand where we are today.

Toni Crescenzo Gelfer (1968)

The Levittown water tower is a suburban icon which evokes strong images whenever I see it. It seems that this is not an isolated occurrence, but quite common to those who were fortunate enough to live in its broad shadow.

My experience is always the same. I see it and a flood of thoughts starts, beginning with the baby pool and family, moving forward to being 10 and with a tag on my ankle being so proud of getting in to a Levittown swimming pool unattended. Then the teen years, of relationship sorrows, anticipations and triumphs. The whole thing can be likened to your life passing before you in a near death experience and yet I am alive and so are my vivid, beautiful memories.


Part 2 will be posted later this week.


Marilyn Monsrud Frese DAHS '63 said...

Because I've lived in Levittown for 63 years now, the water tower is something I see almost every day in my travels around town- so I don't really think of it in any 'special' way. We do ( and DID) always use the Azalea Pool which is pretty much next to the tower. I am enjoying the stories of what it means to so many and how if effects some other original Levittowners. This photo of it shown here must have been taken a while ago. I will take a photo of it this week from what will be about the same angle... might be interesting to see the difference today. I am seeing this angle as taken from the field in front of Cornflower Road, facing the Levittown Community Church which is just around the CURVE from that one house showing in the bottom right area of the photo. i'll send it to you Frank,, and you can do what you want with it. Let's see how much of a difference there is now.

John said...

I liked the water tower when it was plain blue the best. When I was little, that tower just seemed like the biggest thing ever. So massive, with a mysterious hum too, I think. It was an odd, shady edifice to be admired while watching a LAC game or plotting a pool-hopping adventure.

(Mistletoe Lane, DAHS class of '88)

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