February 18, 2013

In the beginning, moving to Levittown included encounters with prejudice



My family was not greeted with open arms, just some closed minds

By JOHN GRECO
Class of 1968

The Greco family started out in Manhattan, and lived there for a couple of years before heading to Astoria, Queens. From Astoria, with thanks to the GI bill we were able to move to Levittown with $500 down to became landowners. I believe 1955.  The "Country" wow, we owned a home now.

I remember the day we moved in like it was yesterday.  We moved to the "Bird" section - 41 Thrush Lane to be exact. It might as well been the moon.  Every house was the same. I didn't know anyone and frankly it was scary as hell.

What I remember most about this move day though was how my family was discriminated on by some of the neighbors.  It was horrifying to me and I had never experienced something like that before.  I was a city kid with friends from all walks of life before and now I am an Italian kid alone in a potato farm. We are now officially in the "Country"!

In "The Country" we now had neighbors that, we'll, just didn't like the idea that Italians from the city just moved in.  This is when I first heard the words dago and wop.  I had no idea I was different. I was not Johnny any more I was officially a dago, Wop.

Of course after time the neighbors realized that we were just like they were and all was good in the world.  But actually we weren't just like them because the Grecos always treated everyone with respect.  My mother Helen and my father Gaspare would never tolerate anything else.

I have one million good memories of Levittown with all my great Levittown friends but this story stays with me and stands out the most.

It was my life for 30 plus years.  I love Levittown, but I will always remember moving day.

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