I grew up in Brooklyn and lived on the first floor of an apartment building. It was called a "railroad flat," as all the rooms were off the hallway. My parents saved their money, and when I was 16, we moved to Malverne. I cried and howled, upset; my two best friends could not travel to Long Island. It was heartache leaving them behind. When would I see them again?
We moved into the small home in Malverne near Lakewood. I applied for a job at Abraham & Straus department store to help pay for college and traveling expenses. I attended Brooklyn College and had just finished one semester. My aunt still resided in Brooklyn and I was able to use her address -- otherwise, I would have had to pay extra as an out-of-towner.
To get to school, I had to take the Long Island Rail Road, subway and bus. It was a long, tedious trip, but I loved being on that lush campus and met some new friends.
The beauty of Long Island amazed me. The homes were spectacular and the parks and libraries were phenomenal.
I was hired by the College Shop at A&S. Imagine me, modeling! I modeled college attire and stunning dresses and bridal gowns. I met my future husband at A&S. He was working in the housewares department.
--Roberta Solomon, Massapequa Park
FARMINGDALE FIELD OF DREAMS
The year was 1960, and I was 15 years of age. I remember it being a muggy afternoon with thickening skies overhead.
I asked my mom if the weatherman called for rain, but she smiled and told me not to worry, assuring that the rest of the day would be just fine. I ran upstairs and took my blue-and-white baseball uniform out of my dresser, ran downstairs to the basement and threw them into the dryer, just to get the wrinkles out.
Once done, I ran back upstairs and lay them neatly across my bed with my Rawlings baseball glove. I began to pace.
Today would be a special day. My team, the Racers, would play Von Leesen's at the Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, and I am slated to pitch.
It's now 4:30 p.m. and it's time. Mom calls for me to get dressed and get ready. Fact is, I've been ready to go since my uniform came out of the dryer. White stocking first, then blue stirrup socks, shirt, pants and, after several tries, my baseball cap placed perfectly on my summer crew cut, with the bill slightly raised in the front, just like my idol, Sandy Koufax.
I run out the front door of our house on New York Drive and jump into the car. Mom's driving, up North Broadway in North Massapequa to Idaho Avenue and we pull over to the curb. There on the corner is our catcher, Johnny Rizzo, and he hops into the back seat. Ten minutes later, we arrive. The car stops and my heart is beating a mile a minute as the radio plays the Del-Vikings' "Come Go With Me."
We jump out of the car and run down the hill onto the leftfield grass. Mom walks on the path above, past the ticket booth that was last used a generation ago, during World War II. The aroma of the fresh-cut grass is overwhelming. To this day, a freshly mowed lawn brings me right back.
The baseball field was adjacent to the Bethpage golf course driving range off Quaker Meeting House Road in Farmingdale. It was an excavated pit with amazingly beautiful emerald green grass, concrete dugouts and a huge, authentic scoreboard in right/centerfield. Authentic, but it never worked. It didn't matter. To this 15-year-old kid, this was the big leagues. I don't remember if I won the game, but the feeling of being in that young and wonderful moment stays with me.
Later in life, when I became a father, I took my kids to see where their dad once played baseball as a teenager. I was amazed to see that the field was still there, albeit in disrepair and being used for several soccer games. To my amazement, there on one of the dugout walls, along with those of my teammates', my kids noticed my faded name, etched for all to see . . . Ivan 1960.
The ballfield is no longer there. In 2002, the field was leveled to make room for a vendors' parking lot for the PGA's U.S. Open golf tournament. Although the field is a memory, I am sure that many of us share similar feelings of those glorious days, playing baseball at this beautiful park, our own field of dreams.
It was a special time in my life that often comes to mind on a muggy summer afternoon, just as I am experiencing today.
--Ivan Mann, East Meadow
INS AND OUTS OF LIFE IN LINDENHURST
I grew up in Lindenhurst in the 1950s and '60s.
My father would call this his Ponderosa, bordered by the Narragansett Inn and The Fruit Tree. Pop recently passed at age 90.
As kids, we played in the streets -- kickball, softball, cowboys and Indians and Army. The playground was at Town Hall, just blocks away. We would walk there safely.
Many rainy days were great, playing Monopoly, Life, Clue, Sorry. Down the block was Woolworth's 5 & 10 Cent store, Tuttles (10-cent hamburgers) and the soda shop, where we bought egg creams.
As we got older, we would walk into town along Wellwood Avenue to the movie house (35 cents for a double feature, plus cartoons), Patsy's for Italian ices (it's still there), Modern Bakery (still there), the museum (still there) and a place called Bonos. (It's gone, but they sold a slice of pizza and soda for 25 cents.)
Memories are always brought up at the Class of '69 reunions.
--Vinny Broccio, Lindenhurst
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