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My Turn: Levittown nostalgia trip is a happy one

Ed Daniels, left, with Danny Tighe, host of

Ed Daniels, left, with Danny Tighe, host of the Facebook show "Back2Levittown." Credit: Jessie Daniels

It’s Friday night and I’m eyeing my iPhone Facebook app anticipating the signal alerting me that Danny Tighe’s Facebook show "Back2Levittown" is going live. At half past eight the bell icon flashes and Tighe’s spirited guitar strumming and signature singing stream my way. His opening song, "Let’s Go Back2Levittown," strikes a chord, his lyrics reach out and hug my heart. I grew up in Levittown, live there still, and Danny’s words loosen latent memories of a youth well spent. I’m singing along now.

Let’s go back to Levittown

When all those kids were running around

There’s the house where we used to live

And Acorn Lane where we learned to swim

Ya’ got no pool tag? / ya’ ain’t getting in

This is Levittown!

Oh, those words — they shepherd me back to the special zeitgeist that I remember animating the Levittown of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, where we happily spent our wonder years pedaling bikes on Levitt lanes with cheerful names like Blue Spruce, Sunrise and Skylark; where we played outside all day and into the evening until the glowing streetlights whispered it was time to go home; where we shopped and hung out at Time Square Stores; and where we walked to the Levittown movie theater on Hempstead Turnpike with our Saturday night dates.

With apologies to Thomas Wolfe: You can go home again, and Tighe, a 1974 graduate of Levittown Memorial High School, proves it every week with his compelling interviews of Levittown’s authors, rock-star roadies, standout athletes, high school tough guys, class wits, 9/11 heroes, and community leaders. These guests drill down deep to their Levittown roots to share their memories.

A common theme threads through each interview: Levittown was a place where pretension had no home, where everyone rowed the same social and economic boats, and where the blue-collar atmosphere led to deeply ingrained traits Danny defines as "Levittown toughness and Levittown loyalty."

Danny’s probing questions and clever remarks, and the supportive laughing, clapping and cheering of his mysterious off-camera wife, the lovely Mrs. Tighe, capture Levittown’s sometimes raucous but always down-to-earth essence. Like raw honey, the Levittown experience was a sweet one, a little rough in patches, but altogether smoothly satisfying in the end. Just like Danny’s show.

I was one of Danny’s guests a while back. I recounted wearing a Superman shirt to ease early kindergarten anxieties at Abbey Lane Elementary School and shared how I almost got beaten up by a threatening ex-con who didn’t like the way I disciplined his younger brothers when I was an Acorn Pool lifeguard at the South Village Green.

When Danny asked what I would do if I could go back as a 10-year-old to the Levittown of the 1950s, I swallowed hard and said I’d find my parents and tell them how much I loved them. Levittown sentimentality tempers Levittown toughness.

The truth is I’m hooked on "Back2Levittown." The show entertains and reassures. It’s comfort food in this discomforting age of COVID-19, a revitalizing taste of a past home sweet home, a reminder of the sweet bird of youth. I don’t live in my Levittown past, but I enjoy regularly acknowledging it and revisiting it every week.

So, beam me up, Danny! "Lets’ go back, let’s go all the way back, let’s go Back2Levittown."

Ed Daniels,

Levittown

YOUR STORY Letters and essays for My Turn are original works (of up to 600 words) by readers that have never appeared in print or online. Share special memories, traditions, friendships, life-changing decisions, observations of life or unforgettable moments for possible publication. Email act2@newsday.com. Include name, address, phone numbers and photos if available. Edited stories may be republished in any format.

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