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Uknown Sports Heroes of Levittown

December 30, 2013 4:20 pm0 commentsViews: 262
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In this feature article, we take a look at some “Unknown Sports Heroes of Levittown”. That name could apply to nearly all Levittowners past and present, since nearly all hold cherished memories of the sports and games they played in their earlier years. Maybe it was Little League baseball, or maybe just a pickup game down the block. Whatever it may have been— climbing, diving, running, racing, sledding, skating or swimming—everyone has some golden moments in his own personal highlight film of memories. Everyone has a Sports Hero hidden away inside.

 

 

 


Javelin

I was 12 when Bruce Jenner won gold in the decathlon event at the Olympics. My friends and I decided we would all win gold medals for the USA when we got old enough, and we trained hard that summer by jumping over garbage cans and racing against my friend’s dog, a German Shepherd. I borrowed my Dad’s workshop broom and took it to the field across the street. We unscrewed the wooden pole from its base and took turns using it as a javelin. When we tried to use it for pole-vaulting over a low tree-branch, it broke in half. My Dad had to go buy a new broom at Channel’s, and he took it out of my allowance.

—Ricky P.

 

 


There was some great kickball games on the lower end of Homestead Road in Highland Park! Lots of neighborhood kids in that one. And in the winter, it was one of the best sledding hills—just had to hope there were no cars coming on Harvest Rd!

 We also played ‘chink’ (handball) against the wall at Schweitzer Elementary. We had to climb up onto the roof when the tennis balls went up there!
Good times wading in the creek by the police station. Can’t tell you how much junk we pulled out of there to build go-carts!

 Sure do miss those days in the mid to late 60s and the 70’s.

—Terry Migliore Alburger


splash

 

I was the terror of the Pinewood pool when I was about 11, because of my tsunami-causing cannonball jumps. One day, after being warned by the lifeguard, I let out a cry of “Banzai!” and did another cannonball anyway. They kicked me out for the day, for getting too many bystanders all wet.

—George K.

 

 

 


We had a basketball hoop and backboard in our driveway in Drexelwood. I remember playing Horse with my Dad when I was little, and he used to let me win most of the time. Then one summer day when I was 15 or so, we played a hard-fought one-on-one game that seemed to last hours. I finally beat him for real that day. I remember the way he looked at me and put his hand on my shoulder. I could see how proud he was.

—Raymond Farelli


I remember pickup football games in the Indian Creek field, watching my big brothers and wanting to play. One year everyone, including me, had real equipment—helmets, jerseys, shoulder pads, cleats. One cold wet autumn day I was allowed to join the big kids’ game. I remember racing downfield at the kickoff, and my way-too-big helmet jiggling around as I ran until I was practically looking out the ear hole. I even caught a pass that day, and helped make a couple of tackles. I remember walking home after the game all muddy, exhausted and proud, with the delicious Sunday evening aroma of roast beef and baked potatoes wafting through the neighborhood.

—Daniel Eilhorn


hockey

 

 

 

Our Whitewood street hockey team played a team from Fairless Hills, and they were big guys compared to us. We played at Lakeview Terrace, across from the old Walmart. Somehow I scored the winning goal against them. It was a good feeling.

—Eugene Diamond

 

 

 


Growing up in Quincy Hollow, I would always look forward to pond ice hockey in Cobalt Ridge. The township would actually take the time to cut the grass real short in the drained pond during the last cut in the fall. Then, before it was too cold, they would dam up the little manmade drainage canal and pump water from the nearby creek to fill the pond. This would never fly in today’s world of liability lawsuits. But I will forever have those memories of playing a pickup ice hockey game. People would show up from all over. In picking teams they would throw all the hockey sticks in a big pile in the middle of the ice. One person would randomly grab sticks out of the center pile and throw them into two piles. Once you found your stick and your team, game on till we ran out of daylight.

—Jesse Pontorno


baseball

 

 

In 1965 or ‘66 I played on the Ladies Auxiliary team in the Levittown International Little League. I remember we were playing for the championship against the Beck Dougherty Funeral Home team. One of the kids on their team had a Dad who owned a small Piper Cub propeller plane. Right in the middle of the first inning, the plane suddenly appeared above the field, trailing a long banner that said “Go Beck Dougherty!” He circled the field a few times and flew off, to great cheers from the other team and their parents. I remember the plane, but I don’t remember who won.

—Darren / Mill Creek

 


It was a neighborhood treat that we would take broken metal skates apart and nail them onto a 2″x4″ board, one half in the front and the remaining half in the back. The board was no more than 4′ long. We would add a wooden box to the top of the board and a cross member hand bar which was from an old broom stick and away we would go racing each other down the street. The left over broom stick was never discarded, for we would use it for backyard stick ball.

—David Marable

 


soap boxIn our Lower Orchard neighborhood we had our own soapbox derby. We would go to the “big hill” (I think every Levittown section had a hill called the “big hill”) with homemade carts (no adult supervision required). We would make them out of anything we could get our hands on—or could sneak out of dad’s garage. Pieces of wood, milk crates, bicycle and wagon tires, and way too many nails would be banged, smacked, screwed and pinned together. Once assembled, It was important to find light drivers and quick mushers to power our contraptions down the hill (or as far down as it would get before the cart collapsed or crashed). It was a blast on a lazy summer day…

—Phil T.

 

 


I grew up in Levittown at a time when it was teeming with kids. There were always enough kids in the neighborhood for a pick-up game of baseball or touch football and on summer nights many of us would look forward to sleeping out in a tent in the back yard at one of our houses. It took us a full year of saving S&H Green Stamps to get our tent.

Although “sleeping out” was the way we described it to our parents, there really wasn’t much sleeping involved. One of our favorite pastimes in the middle of the night was midnight swimming. In Levittown’s early days, the Levittown Public Recreation Association (LPRA) managed public swimming pools, one of which was located in the Indian Creek section.

One particular summer night after talking until midnight we decided to head to the pool. Now absolute stealth was required, because the pool manager lived on Ice Pond Road right across from the pool and was known to be a light sleeper. There was a wooded lot across from the pool that extended behind the nearby church and transitioned into a field of tall grass and weeds. We made our way to the woods and took off all the clothes we didn’t need for swimming; in my case, I was down to my underwear. After climbing the fence, we quietly slipped into the pool and swam around.

When it was time to go, the older brothers among us decided as a dare that we each had to jump off the diving board before we could leave, knowing that this would wake up the pool manager. Unfortunately, I was the last to jump and the inevitable happened—my underwear was left behind when I hit the water.

There was no time to search around and I got out of the pool as quickly as I could, raced to the fence and delicately climbed over. When my feet hit the ground on the other side of the fence, I looked up to see the police car coming down Emilie Road. Being naked gave me extra incentive and I ran as fast as I ever did across the parking lot toward the woods. However, it’s not easy to outrun a police car equipped with a V8 Police Interceptor engine. There was no time to retrieve my clothes in the woods and I ran through the field of tall grass (ouch) with the police car in hot pursuit. I’m not sure if they gave up the pursuit because of the rough terrain in the field or because they were laughing so hard at a 12 year old kid running naked through the field, but I was thankful nonetheless.

I spent some time in a nearby yard, catching my breath and looking up at the stars before I headed back to the woods to retrieve my clothes and make my way back through the neighborhood to our tent. I elbowed my way through the other sleeping kids and fell fast asleep. I gave up the sport of midnight swimming for good that night.

—Kevin Deeny


handball

I grew up in Highland Park. We played stick ball with tennis balls and a broom stick on a spray painted square on the wall of Carl Sandburg by the kindergarten classrooms. If the ball went up on the roof, we’d climb up on the roof via the door overhangs to get it down! We’d play for hours!

—Mary Hastry

 

We did the same thing behind Eisenhower. We also played assball, or “chink.” When you lost, they threw the ball at your ass while you stood against the wall—bent over, of course.

—Bill Krautter

 


In and around 1956, we lived in Magnolia Hill on Mallow Lane. In the front of our rather new Levittown home was a very young pine tree at the end of the carport. Being the eight year old tomgirl that I was… I climbed the tree. The branches were easier to reach than the big trees in the woods, so up I went—and snapped the tree in half as I climbed.

Clearly my mother was angry, but she was too stressed with my two younger brothers to deal with me. As usual she yelled, “Just wait ‘til your father gets home!” And she used my first and middle name… a sure sign I was in a world of trouble.

—Alice Deeny


John Nugent and I used to play whiffle ball in his backyard on Tamarack Lane in Thornridge in 1968. A left handed home run had to clear his roof, a right handed homerun had to clear the pine tree two yards away.
Dave Bunting, Jay Weick and I used to play wall ball in the parking lot against Pennsbury High School and one on one basketball even in the snow.
Thankfully, this was all before video games and cable tv.

—Bill Cluck


 

sledding

 

 

 

When I was just 7 I could stand up on my sled all the way down the big hill in Quincy Hollow. The bigger kids couldn’t do it, not even the boys.

—Caroline H.

 

 

 

 


During the summer months the kids in Holly Hill played regular and hard Manhunt. We hid on roofs, in trees, and under cars. The light pole in front of my house when we lived at 40 Huckleberry Lane was base. It had to be dark, or right after the fog truck came for the bugs.

—Michelle Lynn Ferrell


The illustrations for this article were done by Ed Crines, a Levittown resident who grew up in the Whitewood section.

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