I am a baby boomer who has had the privilege of being a resident of the Massapequas since 1964. I have seen many changes, as one can imagine. Many businesses long gone, many homes newly built while some old ones are demolished. It’s easy to get lost in memories of what helped shape me and everyone else.
My friends and I would get home from school, approximately age 14, and walk to Pete’s Deli on the corner of North Cedar Street and North Broadway. We would buy Tootsie roll pops for a nickel and revel in the freedom of being alone. When we had extra money from babysitting jobs or newspaper deliveries (the days that kids actually went door to door to deliver as well as collect from neighbors), we would cross Broadway to visit John’s Luncheonette, pooling our money together for ice-cream and French fries. They had an enclosed phone booth allowing us to call boys we were interested in with privacy from parent’s prying eyes. Both places long gone, replaced by a doctor’s office and a bar. However, when I drive by, both places are as clear as when I was a teenager.
Crostini’s was Lisa’s Italian Kitchen owned by a few different owners with the same name. We would walk across on Monday nights and eat for dirt cheap on “all you can eat pasta” nights. It was something we looked forward to. In ninth grade, roller skating was the big craze. Levittown Roller Rink on Hempstead Turnpike is long gone, but United Skates of America is still in the same spot. When we didn’t have a ride and it was still daylight, we walked down Queens Street all the way until Hicksville Road to get there. The outside has changed designs a few times as well as the interior but it still brings back memories. Subway, the post office as well as the other stores weren’t there as MilJays Delicatessen occupied those spots. It was there that we shared Hebrew National Hot dogs and knishes before and after skating. This was our meeting place; where we gossiped, met boys and had freedom. Again, there was a payphone if needed. Constant communication wasn’t available so the anticipation was even higher when “he” picked up the phone. No texts or social media. There was couples skate with both his or her choice and the sweat accumulated at the back of your neck waiting to be asked.
West Field Mall was the Sunrise Mall and everyone was excited to have it open. They are currently building a Dick’s Sporting Goods where Walmart used to be. However, way before Walmart there was Sterns, Gertz and Korvettes. We used to go upstairs where there was a genuine Chinese Restaurant where on Saturdays they had a buffet for $5. Then we would head over to the movie theater to catch a new flick. There were two arcades; Galaxy and Time Out on both levels where we would hang out and play Pac Man, pinball and Space Invaders.
Manor East Caterers is gone and has been vacant for years. Most recently Friendly’s left and a new Italian restaurant has taken its place. South Gate Shopping Center on Merrick Road was Bar Harbor, home to Gimbels, a sporting goods store and a great pizza place to name a few. There were no town homes there.
I would imagine I could go on and on about all the changes; some for the good, some not so much. Nevertheless, there is no dispute that Massapequa is one of the best, diverse towns in Nassau County. Here’s to many more businesses and residents coming our way.