Informal Gatherings History
Memories from 2007 & 2008
Good morning Marcy,
It's 4:20 AM Monday morning and we leave for the airport in 45 min. to go to Montana. Just looked at the Washington DC pictures in the camera for the first time. We were in Washington DC with Roger and Helen Annicelli 3/31 to 4/4. They came up from Florida. I have a CARVEL story to share with you (while we were in DC), but do not have time now to do it justice. I hope these few pictures fill the void for the web site.
I found some pictures I took at the World Trade Center on 9-9, two days before 9-11. If you think they're interesting you can post these four on the website. In 2001 Irene and I visited Smitty (Richie Smith) and Nelsi. Irene wanted to see the World Trade Center. We were supposed to go into the city on 9-11 but my cousin talked me into going in on a Sunday, September 9th, to get "two-fers". I took these pics of the towers and the globe in front. When the towers came down the giant globe was badly damaged. After they recovered it, they moved it down to Battery Park where we took the "after" shot. Thanks to Smitty's procrastination, we were late going into the city and the World Trade Center again on 9-11. God said it wasn't our time yet.
I received the following article about Louise DeNardo Cassano from Lois Christensen Bish, sent to her by her sister-in-law in Missouri! What Lois sent me was a copy of the article (the original she mailed to Louise) and it didn't scan well so I went online to find the article. Lo and behold it appeared in every major city paper in the country. How wonderful that one of our own classmates has become a spokesperson for Levittown.
Pioneer baby boom community turns 60
By Frank Eltman, Associated Press Writer
LEVITTOWN, N.Y. — In 1951, 7-year-old Louise Cassano couldn't imagine a better life than the one here, where she rode her bicycle past rows of cookie-cutter houses, kids held backyard campouts in makeshift tents and nobody locked their front doors.
"It was an absolute ideal community," said Cassano, whose love affair with Levittown never waned -- she still lives in the Long Island town dubbed by some as America's first suburb.
Cassano is among the organizers of a huge 60th birthday party for the Nassau County town, set for Sunday and featuring high school bands, floats, local groups, war veterans and the fire department. Nearly two dozen original Levittown homeowners will serve as grand marshals.
It was October 1947 when developer William Jaird Levitt opened the first of what became 17,544 Cape Cod and ranch houses rising from blighted potato fields 40 miles east of New York City, handing post-World War II GIs the keys to their American Dream.
It was an instant success, a prototype widely chronicled and duplicated nationwide.
Cape Cods originally sold for $6,990; ranches were slightly more expensive. Each house had four rooms, a bath, an unfinished attic and amenities -- steel kitchen cabinets, Bendix washer, GE refrigerator, Hotpoint electric range.
None had basements, since excavations would have slowed the almost assembly line construction.
Today, "you can't get a house in Levittown for less than $400,000," Cassano said almost incredulously.
Virtually all the original houses have been renovated, in some cases making the original structure nearly invisible.
"It's to the point they're almost McMansions," said Polly Dwyer, president of the Levittown Historical Society.
Levitt initially prohibited blacks from joining the suburban exodus. After Supreme Court rulings and the civil rights movement, minorities were eventually permitted to purchase homes, but Levittown remains a largely white community.
"I think black people were hurt and offended by the blatant rejection, and simply when given the opportunity chose to go elsewhere," said Barbara Kelly, former director of the Long Island Studies Institute at Hofstra and author of "Expanding the American Dream: Building and Rebuilding Levittown."
Levitt also built "village greens" that featured a grocery store, pharmacy and other shops -- all within walking distance for women, since their husbands typically drove the family car to work.
Since those days of stay-at-home wives, Cassano has worked as a reporter for a local weekly for several years, started her own public relations company and served as president of the chamber of commerce. She and her husband, Mauro Cassano, have two sons, one of whom still lives nearby and sends his children to Levittown schools.
"There is a real genuine hometown feeling here and I think our generation was so involved and so enthusiastic about school, about the community," Cassano said. "We were all, every one of us, was very involved in activities in school, and for that reason I think that we all feel that we did something in terms of community."
An article from the Levittown Tribune. Standing at the podium is Louise DeNardo Cassano, LMHS class of 1961.
Levittown's 60th Anniversary
Levittown 60th Anniversary Committee, co-chair Louise Cassano welcomes Honorary Marshals Legislator Dennis Dunne, Sr., Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, Senator Kemp Hannon and Levittown Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Regan. Photo by Cathy Schaedtler
I had an unexpected email from a librarian in Indiana, who found our site on a Google search for yearbook pictures. She was creating a poster to ask patrons to donate old yearbooks to the library and wanted old pictures on the poster. She asked permission to use a few she chose and promised me a copy of the finished product with credit going to our high school. I sent a copy of the finished product to the classmates on the poster, but wanted to share it with all of you. My email to Joel Chesnoff was returned so if anyone knows his new email address, please send it to me so I can update our records. Thanks.