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Levittown people: Veteran Jim Hasselmann
Jim Hasselmann, 67
My last stop in Levittown was to the VFW hall, where I met Hasselmann, a Vietnam veteran who moved from Brooklyn to Levittown in 1973.
I needed space. I had three kids in 2 ½ years and I was living in a one bedroom in Brooklyn. This was considered the country.
What did you know about Levittown before coming here?
I knew it was for vets, mostly World War II and Korea. That’s why we came here. I had a friend who was a veteran that was here. And also, it was a blue collar town. A lot of cops, a lot of firemen. Not that I was either of those, I worked for a bank.
What did you like about it once you got here?
Wide open space. It was completely different than what I was used to. It was not as congested as it is now. Eventually, I had six kids and they loved it, that’s what kept us here. They all enjoyed Levittown. It was a good place to live.
So, why continue to live here now?
I have a lot of friends still here. The VFW is very nice. It’s a very good group and it’s very social. My wife also made a lot of friends. One of the best events here is the parade. There are a lot of people here, the streets are crowded and everyone applauds us.
As a veteran, how did it feel for you to come to a place that was created for veterans?
We were welcomed here. As a veteran they did welcome you. After Vietnam, nobody treated you well. But here it was OK. Now, we go out of our way to welcome every vet.
How has it changed?
It’s crowded. Everything has gotten expensive. Everything was cheap back then. And the houses are just great. They’re huge now.
And the taxes, they’ve gone up. When we moved here we were paying $1,000 in taxes, now it’s $12,000 or $13,000. That’s a big difference.
How would you define the character of Levittown?
Friendly. Looks out for its veterans. The whole Town of Hempstead really does.