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Farmingdale people: Barbara Torrance
Editor's note: All week long, Brittany Wait is profiling people around Farmingdale, from community leaders to residents she bumps into around town.
Ten women, ages 64 to 88, have discussed short stories at the Farmingdale Public Library each Monday for the past decade.
Barbara Torrance, 88, of Farmingdale, is one of them. She worked at the library from 1964 to 1994 as a part-time clerk and head of its processing department. Now she gets out of the house to meet with the other women and to read for at least two hours a week.
How long have you lived in Farmingdale?
I’ve lived in Farmingdale since 1952. My three children have gone completely through the school system. My eldest daughter attended six different schools in Farmingdale. I have three girls. I did want a boy, but I told my husband, who’s a big baseball fan, three strikes and you’re out.
When you moved here, what was it like?
It was like country. We had no mail delivery. I walked into town every day to pick up the mail at the post office. The first block of Main Street had houses. They built my block [Sunset Avenue], but across the street were all woods and a few houses down the road. It was really nice.
What made you want to stay all these years?
My husband, Thomas, who passed away last June, never really wanted to live in Farmingdale. He wanted to move somewhere else, but he worked in Farmingdale, so we stayed.
What did your husband do for a living?
He worked for City of Glass [a commercial greenhouse and retail store] on Melville Road for many years and then worked for Republic Aviation Corporation.
How have you seen the community change throughout the years?
Well, we built a lot of schools in the district, so that was a big change for the area. The Main Street school they closed down and they built Woodward Parkway, which was close to us. And then after that, they built Parkway Oaks, East Memorial and Northside. They built a lot of schools in Farmingdale, year by year, as the population grew. The taxes went up, absolutely. Our mortgage payment when we bought our house was $64 a month and that included our property taxes.
What do you remember of the public library?
Significantly, the library changed a lot. When I came to Farmingdale the library was in a small storefront down on North Main Street in the village and it moved from there into the Main Street school for about two or three years, while they were building [out] South Farmingdale. The Library Café was the old library on Main Street.
What challenges does this community face now?
They face the challenge of the tax situation. The schools have a lot to deal with. We have a lot of immigrants that have come into the Main Street area. That’s a challenge for the schools and educationally they’re trying to do the best they can for their kids and the money is becoming shorter and shorter. The state mandates so many things that have to be taken care of and the schools have to pay for them. That’s a problem. My taxes run about $7,000 a year right now and I have a tiny Cape Cod.
Define the character of the community.
It is pretty middle class ... but the population has really changed. I love Farmingdale. I’ve been here a long time; It’s home to me. It’s near all the colleges, including Farmingdale State [College], the railroad station, Bethpage State Park and shopping.