GROWING UP IN EAST ISLIP
My name is Wally Willrick and
I grew up in E.I. in the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. I lived on Stewart St.
and moved to So. Great River in the early 50s. I graduated from E.I.H.S. in
1948. My daughters, Nancy and Susan also graduated from E.I.H.S. We all now
live in Florida with our families since 1978.
Reading the memories of
various students brings it all back again with wonderful thoughts. Growing up
in East Islip in that era, when we were all struggling to regroup after the
depression, followed by World War II, was not easy. Many
parents worked on
the estates along the Bay front, plus defense plants, namely Grumman,
Republic, Fairchild and the likes. My Mom worked for Mrs. Carlyle as a cook,
while my Dad was a chauffer for H.K.Knapp. This is how they met and when the
war started Dad went to work at Grumman and retired from there. Times were
tough but people were happy with the simple life. There was no TV yet and
recreation wasn't much, so you created your own. Hunting, fishing, swimming,
softball games, ice skating on Knapps lake, Dixie Pond, and E.I.
There were 3 bowling alleys in
town. Oscars, Franks and Slanec's. The E.I. Movie was running full blast at
25 cents a ticket. People could keep up with the war each week from the
constantly changing News Reels. I worked for Mr. Poro and Pete Hopkins as an
usher all through my teens and cleaned the theatre on the week-ends. Bill
Baird was the projectionist at that time. The Firehouse was also a popular
place. The Post office was located next to the movies, then moved into the
Vollbracht building, across from Follenders Wig factory. Everyone in town had
a mailbox and picked up their mail each day. This is how you got to
meet everyone in town, because the Post Office was the central meeting place
for all. When the Post Office moved to Greenwood Ave the mail was delivered
house to house and the town started to spread out. E.I. Bank moved east also
and occupied the property near the old Fox farm. Various business's filled the
spaces in between. King Kullen, Waldbaums, Janel's, and the always popular
Stanley's Bakery. The E.I. Firehouse expanded, the Markvart's E.I. Hotel gave
way to the Mobil station, and George the Greek sold more hot dogs then ever.
Other stations in town were
Collery's next to the movies, Charlie Horal, Fischers, Sweeney's (corner of
Carleton) Pheifer's and of course Rumplik's. Some of the early popular
business's in town were Hockers Hotel, Jeromes Pharmacy,
John Carey, Insurance,
the Chrysler Dealership, Ratlev's Stationary, Franklin's Stationary,
Garberino's Grocery, Rudy's Beauty Parlor, Leiberman the Dentist, Case's
Religious Store, and Bohacks.
A little further east was E.I.
Hardware. Franks Barbershop, across was Podalaks Drug Store, & Hanfords Bike
Shop next to Dr. Chesnow. Opposite the Follender Wig Factory was Beeman's Drug
store, (later was Fortunato's). Next was Hanford's Bar & Grill & Swizzlers
Meat Market. Tucked around the back was Lee's Auto Body & Horal's. Across was
Stadlers Market, Karp's Liquor Store & Vasata's Barber Shop. This was the
heart of town.
Toward Carleton was Fischers
Gas Station, Ted Joanni the Lawyer, Bill Nocar, (A&P) Lillians Beauty Shop,and
Giffens Apparel. Across was Bernstein's, Benny Alferi's, and the ever popular
"Hot Dog Stand". Herman's Pony Ring was also a very popular spot for many
years. Another popular spot was Brookward Hall. Not only for the swimming in
the summer, or the skating in the winter but for the many friends I went to
school with. Some of the names I remember were, Mr. Firth as one of the head
people, Ray (Stinky) Davis, Andy Genninger and his sister Ruth. Henrietta Van
Eyke, Jimmy DeMamus, Warren Taylor, Joan Schelhas, Rose Presti. Earl Etters,
Robert Fisher, Loretta Stellato and Joyce Marcus.
As we roamed into the 50's
East Islip's expansion continued and building kept up a feverish pace. I was
in the Plastering & Drywall business and worked in many homes locally till I
bought the Islip Hardware Store, in the 60's. In 1978 I sold the store to Rick
& Jeanne Sullivan, and moved to Fla. Her son Doug & Mindy still operate the
store to this date.
Growing up in East Islip was
like a chapter from a "Hollywood Storybook", Maple Tree lined streets, family
oriented people so willing to help each other. Everyone waved & smiled at each
other. The small town atmosphere was everywhere and friendly. A wonderful
place to grow up, it taught you the respect, responsibility and above all
I thoroughly enjoyed all the
other articles submitted. Many of the names I remember and if not them
personally, their parents and even grandparents. Now that tells you that I
probably had arthritis before they were born, because that's how old I am.
With best regards, Ray, keep up the good work. Sincerely, Wally Willrick Jr.