Moving from Brooklyn to Long Island in December 1969 with three young sons was a respite from the changing face of our Sunset Park neighborhood that had allowed catering halls on residential blocks.
We had lived in my parents' four-family home, which was handed down from my grandmother -- so it was quite normal for my parents and brother to sell the house and follow us "out east."
We chose two separate two-story homes that were directly across from each other in a newly built development of 27 homes in Lake Grove called the "Grover Development." The builder, Abe Farber, recognized the growing potential for young families within the Sachem School District.
Some of the homes were surrounded by woods. Our home was one of them and our sons, Christopher, Anthony and Thomas, built many childhood memories playing nearby in the woods, searching for artifacts as only young minds can.
Long Island was not exactly new to me. My father's family had a summer cottage on Myrtle Lane in Coram, where I spent my summers from 1948 to 1956. I enjoyed walking barefoot on then-dirt lanes and hearing bottles clang as the milkman delivered them each morning. My cousins and I always scrambled to be the first to drink the cream that had floated to the top of the bottles, as it did before milk was homogenized.
All these memories stayed close to my heart as our family settled into our new home with a school bus pickup in front. Our backyard was home for Alfie the rabbit, who was chased into his hutch at dusk by our dog, Grover.
It was a friendly development. I soon started working in the Sachem School District cafeterias in 1971 and was employed as a cook from 1974 until 1990.
I never could imagine leaving Long Island and planned to explore the region with the time I would have when I retired. Eventually I had a career change and started working at the Long Island State Veterans Home in Stony Brook. Change came about after the passing of my mom and dad, and I purchased a summer vacation home in Montrose, Pa., 220 miles from Long Island. I chose it because it reminded me of the summer cottage in Coram, with dirt roads surrounded by farms and endless views. It became a respite for my now-grown sons and a time-off vacation with friends for them.
Life can change quickly. I had to sell my family home on Long Island and moved permanently to my then-vacation home on the outskirts of Montrose. It was sad for me to leave behind so many happy memories.
All during the next 15 years, I yearned to once again be with family on Long Island. Weekend visits back and forth for my sons and me did not seem to suffice!
I built a life and made friends in the small town of Montrose, which was seven miles from my home. As I look back on it now, I guess all the yearning I had to return was a sign of things to come and they did, like a lightning bolt right at the edge of my 33/4 acres.
I awoke one morning in May 2010 with low-flying helicopters all around and called the town supervisor to find out if a noise ordinance was violated. I was hit with the words, "Don't you know the end of your property line was chosen to build a rig for gas drilling and plans were made for a 'staging area' to be on the side of your property line, which will house dozens upon dozens of water tankers up and down the dirt road?" And that they did 24/7, without any noise ordinance.
Little did I know this was the beginning of my 11/2-year journey back to family and memories on Long Island that I longed for! An investor purchased our Pennsylvania home in August 2011, and we lived with my son in Sound Beach, dog and all, until securing a condominium in Ridge surrounded by the beautiful Pine Barrens. I am happy to be back on Long Island with all of its amenities, such as buses, cab service and, at times, home deliveries.
With widened roads, I can now enjoy places I have not been to and see new changes in the face of an old friend. The light shopping in the Rocky Point business district holds a certain charm for me, as did the beginning years in Lake Grove.
I no longer must click my heels as Dorothy did in "The Wizard of Oz" to come back home, as I often did, because I now know there is no place like home!