Editor's Note: This week's "Memories of Levittown" column was supplied to Frank Barning by Dewain Lanfear, a member of the Division Avenue High School Class of 1960.
Levittown was built primarily to provide affordable single family homes for the men returning from World War II. My father and many of the men on Daisy Lane fit this description. They’d served and were ready for the home ownership that Levittown offered. The habits they formed during their service carried over to the way they worked with each other on the block.
I remember one particular snowfall. Our street was just off Orchid Road, a “major” thoroughfare in Levittown at the time. The town plows would work to clear the major streets first and then get to the side streets.
This timetable didn't suit the men of the block. After each cleared his own driveway (if he had one) or walkway, the street kept them from getting out to the plowed network of roads. Their solution? A bottle of whiskey, some shovels and a lot of military-style teamwork. With that bottle as incentive, the street was cleared.
I mentioned the driveways earlier. These ex-GI's pooled their resources to build driveways and walkways for their houses. Remember that the original package came with a flagstone path from the front door to the sidewalk. When it was time to upgrade to concrete, the men of the block each dug out (or assigned the job to an offspring) his own path and, on the agreed-upon Saturday, had a cement truck make a drop to each house. They saved money by ordering an entire truckload of concrete, and being part of the team gave them motivation to finish the job.
Do you recall that the upstairs area, with its trap door, was unfinished? A popular project was to finish that space into living space. First, the area needed electrical wiring. Enter the team concept again. The school district offered an Adult Ed class on wiring a Levittown attic. 12 weeks, 12 enrollees. Each week, the class was held at another class member's home. The class went upstairs and, under the guidance of the licensed electrician/teacher, installed the wiring. I remember this because that's how my dad wired my upstairs bedroom.
Our garage was built using the same team concept. After I finished digging out the footing, which was not a team job, Dad hired a carpenter and ordered the things needed to build his garage. One weekend, the carpenter arrived along with the men on the block and, with the carpenter's directions, they put the garage up in two days.
Dad had a strong sense of community pride. On his way to church one weekend, Dad saw that vandals pulled out the hedges at the foot of DAHS. The next morning, he replanted them. They might still be there. That's the way a lot of the Levittown dads felt about their town.
I want to name these men because they were such a good example and because so many of them had children who went to Division. There was my dad, Dewain, and Gene Sherman, Irv Weiner, Noel Heineke, Dick McCarthy, Bob Waddle and Bill Condon. These men were veterans who developed some worthwhile values during their service. Let's remember them.
Remember to read Frank Barning's blog at http://theworldaccordingtofrankbarning.blogspot.com.