Throughout this week's Town Focus series in Wyandanch, we are profiling people we meet, from community leaders to residents we bump into around town.
Wyandanch Community Development Corp. member; raised seven children in the community
How long have you lived in the community?
How did you end up here?
My mom and stepfather moved us here from Plainview. I was about 14, 15. They were farm workers, there were lots of potato farms around then and they worked there in the summers. But they left there, and my stepfather worked in a cemetery here and my mother was a housewife.
What was it like for you?
I loved it. I was originally born in South Carolina. My mom and my auntie came up here first and were working in Plainview and then a year later brought my brother Larry and myself. I was from the country, so moving to Long Island, I loved it. It was comfortable. First we lived on Round Swamp Road and I felt at home, there were lots of trees. But we didn’t like living on the farm so we were happy when we moved to Wyandanch.
Eventually, the homes came and the trees left. A lot more people came. I only left Wyandanch for two years. I moved to Bay Shore, but then I came back.
Why did you move back?
My mom still lived here, the community was nice, you get to know everyone. Back then, you watched out for one another’s children.
How has the community changed?
The growth, as far as both the number of people and the community. Back then it was a lot of Italians and Polish, at least 80 percent of the population. My first friends in Wyandanch and my family were the only two black families on our whole block. Through the years that has changed, but a lot of people from my generation have sold their homes and moved out. On my block -- and I’ve lived there for 38 years -- only two of us are still there.
What would you like to see change?
Wyandanch Rising is a change and a big improvement. It’s bringing businesses back in the community, and we also need to bring back interest in the community.
Our parks are not utilized as they were. The pool at Geiger Park is not used. I myself have taken an interest in seeing that pool utilized again. The kids from the neighborhood go to other neighborhoods for things to do. My kids used to have lunch picnics at the pool and at the parks. I myself would spend Sunday at the pool.
I’d also say the village of Wyandanch needs to be improved. I remember every store that we used to have, they are all gone. But Wyandanch Rising is promising a new version of the village, new businesses coming in and that has improved it.