Editor's note: All week long, Erin Geismar is profiling people around Bay Shore, from community leaders to residents she bumps into around town.
Rodney Marve, 59, of Farmingdale
Community association: assistant director of the Bay Shore-Brightwaters Public Library
How long have you worked for the library?
I started here in 1969. I was still in high school.
Where are you from originally?
Alexandria, La. My mom died when I was 12 and my aunt and the powers that be decided that I would be better off if I came up here with them. My aunt already lived in Bay Shore. My uncle and my dad took me to New Orleans and put me on a train. They told them, ‘This boy is going to New York to meet his aunt, be sure he gets there.’
I was 13 years old, I had never left Louisiana before.
What was it like coming to Bay Shore?
It was a big, vast place. Louisiana was segregated when I was a child. My very best friend when I got here was white. I was out playing basketball and he hopped over the fence and came over. We’ve been friends since 1967. That was a change. He just saw a guy playing ball. The difference is in Louisiana, a white guy would never come up to me. We didn’t have anything to do with each other. That’s quite a difference. The town was very accepting. I never remember getting into a fight or an argument with someone.
Why did you decide to stay here as an adult?
Well, I don’t live here anymore. I live in Farmingdale. But I stayed here until after my daughter was born. I wanted to stay but I couldn’t afford the housing. It’s a very comfortable existence here and I still have cousins that live here.
What do you love about this community?
When you walk down the street, people say hello. It’s very small town. If someone comes into the library and someone says, "How are you?" and she says, "My husband is in the hospital," when she comes in a few weeks later, someone will say, "How’s your husband doing?" Someone will remember.
What challenges do you think the community faces?
Times, they’re a-changing. The dynamic is always different. Just everyday living, and keeping jobs. People I don’t normally see in here during the day have been, so that means they’re looking for work. There’s always an effort to keep the town up, and a lot of people do that.
How would you define the character of Bay Shore?
It’s just a diverse community. It’s small town. I can’t really define it, we have rich and we have poor and we have everything in the middle. But I guess it could be defined by its “stick-to-it-ness.” It’s a cohesive community.