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Made in the Shade
“I am so glad I grew up in Levittown, PA in the Sixties and Seventies. It really was “the most perfectly planned community in America”. It was a clean, safe environment with lots of kids and lots of activities.

Nearly everyone was on common social and economic ground. Nobody was any “better” than anybody else. We all had lots in common to talk or argue about.

Also, the layout and design of Levittown was kid friendly, with parks, open spaces, schools, pools, playgrounds and recreational areas everywhere. And, they were easy to get to without crossing highways.

Growing up in Levittown, there were always like fifty kids around to get a game together. When we got older there were plenty of cute girls hanging out right in your neighborhood. We had it made in the shade”
Rich Wagner – Born 1959, grew up in Snowball Gate



 
levittown memories
This area of the website is dedicated to things that made living in Levittown great. The slideshow below is a walk down Memory Lane. Enjoy. There are four more slideshows below this one that detail the LPRA, the 1979 Gas Riot, the Miss Levitteen Beauty Pageant and the Levittown Shop-A-Rama.

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<< Post your story or memories on the "SHARE YOUR MEMORIES" page which can be reached from the menu on the left.

The L.P.R.A.
Five of the recreation areas that Levitt built included Olympic-sized swimming pools. People joined the Levittown Public Recreation Association (LPRA) and many Levittowner parents (and most of us kids) spent their summers at one of the neighborhood pools.
 Country Club Pool - located between Snowball Gate and Forsythia Gate
 Pinelake Pool - located between Pinewood and Lakeside
 Magnolia Pool - located  between Magnolia and Elderberry Pond
 Indian Creek - located  Pool in Indian Creek
 Brook Pool - located in Stonybrook


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The 1979 Five Points Gas Riot
Five of the recreation areas that Levitt built included Olympic-sized swimming pools. People joined the Levittown Public Recreation Association (LPRA) and many Levittowner parents (and most of us kids) spent their summers at one of the neighborhood pools.
 Country Club Pool - located between Snowball Gate and Forsythia Gate
 Pinelake Pool - located between Pinewood and Lakeside
 Magnolia Pool - located  between Magnolia and Elderberry Pond
 Indian Creek - located  Pool in Indian Creek
 Brook Pool - located in Stonybrook


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1955 Miss Levitteen Contest
In Levittown, community-sponsored activities provided wholesome fun throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s. The Miss Levittown contest from 1955 is a classic example of one of these activities. My father took these shots. Do you recognize anyone?


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Levittown Shop-A-Rama
Opening on October 15, 1953, The Levittown Shop-A-Rama had 90+ stores including Woolworths, Kresges, Pomeroys, Sears and Penneys. It was Levittown's main shopping center and was, in 1953, the biggest shopping center east of the Mississippi with over 5,000 parking spots. It was the center of the community and in 1960, JFK made presidential campaign speech there.


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The Levittown Shop-A-Rama was where you;
  cashed your paycheck
  mailed your letters
  bought weekly groceries
  bought all your housewares
  shopped for school clothes
  saw Santa & bought Christmas presents
  went to the movies
  bought toys for the kids
  met your friends for a soda
  saw the parrot at Cappys Shoes
  bought supplies for Little League
  rode the elephant train
  bought auto parts
  got your prescriptions filled

Here is a partial listing of stores at the Shop-A-Rama (from Levittown Relics website)

Adam's Clothes

Larmon(?) Camera Shop

Singer Sewing Center

Alston's Hallmark

Levine's Fabrics

State Liquor Store

Bob's Big Boy

Levittown Barber Shop

Sun Ray Drugs

Boscovs

Levittown Tavern

The Cellar

Cappy's "Stride-Rite" Shoes

Lobel's Youth Center

The Hitching Post

Carousel Ice Cream

M&M Sporting Goods

The Lerner Shops

Carvel Ice Cream

McCrorys

The PVC Store

Corestates Bank

Melody Music

The RX Place

Eastern News

Pantry Pride

The Yardstick

Ed's Coin & Stamp

Penn Fruit

Thom McCann Shoes

First Union Bank

Pep Boys

Towne Theatre

Food Fair

Philadelphia National Bank

Turning Point Dance Studio

Halperin Realty

Playtown

U.S Post Office - Wm. Levitt Branch

Hobby Lobby

Pomeroys

W.T. Grants

J.C. Penny

Ports

Western Savings Bank

Kiddie City

Sears

Western Warehouse

Kresges

Shellenberger's

Woolworths

Country Club Shopping Center
In 1954, a strip mall called the Country Club Shopping Center was built on Route 1 in Middletown Township, providing more local shopping options. It was close to our families house in Snowball Gate and I spent a lot of time there. My favorite store was the WT Grant 5 & 10 store because they had a hot dog and soda fountain. The soda was served from a Hires root beer barrel display. That barrel fascinated me as a young kid. I remember thinking "How does soda come from a barrel and not lose its fizz?" Later, a larger department store called “Two Guys”, sort of the Walmart of the 1960s, was added. We did our Christmas shopping there and at the Shop-A-Rama.

Food Fair Super Market
Food Fair
Unlike the pre-WWII neighborhood markets, the Food Fair was a real “super” market. All of your food needs under one roof. Food Fair was once one of the 5 top grocery chains in the country. Food Fair was an innovator in retail grocery, pioneering: electronic registers, scanning, UPC, combination stores, discount grocery stores (Pantry Pride), etc.


O'Boyles Ice Cream Truck

You would hear him coming a block away. The race was on to get money from your folks so you could buy a “screwball” from the ice cream man. You then had to eat your way to the bottom, to get the gumball, which you would chew for 2 days, stopping only to sleep. I can still taste it.

 

   

     
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The Mosquito Man

In the 1960s, I guess DDT was not poisonous. It was just this really cool fog that came out of the back of a truck driving around your neighborhood. Nothing was cooler than following “the mosquito man” on your stingray bike, riding blindly along in the DDT fog.

Many a Levittown kid chipped a tooth when they slammed into the back of the truck when it stopped at an intersection, unable to see through the fog. Boy, that DDT fog sure was cool. I guess what you don’t know, really can’t hurt you.

Cruisin' the Parkway
When you got old enough to drive, you “cruised” up and down Levittown Parkway on Friday and Saturday nights.
 


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Bumper Sliding

Here is how it worked. After a fresh snow, you would hang out near a stop sign. When a car stopped, you would sneak down and grab on to the bumper of the unsuspecting car to hitch a ride. When they took off, you would lock your legs tight and “bumper slide” along behind the car hanging from the bumper. We had contests to see how far you could hitch a ride before you fell off.
 

 


 

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Bumper Sliding

Family Payday Rituals
"When I was a toddler, the Shop-O-Rama was the stage for our family’s Friday night payday ritual. While Mom purchased groceries at Food Fair, Dad would hoist me on his shoulders and take me for a sunset stroll …"
Levittown native David Diamond

"Our payday ritual was that every Friday, we would wait for my father to come home from work. He had just cashed his weekly paycheck and we would all put on nice clothes and go to HoJos (Howard Johnsons) on Route 1 for dinner. I would always get the fried clam kids platter (no meat on Friday) and a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert. This was livin' large in 1960s Levittown."
Rich Wagner

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Commentary on the Social Impact of Sidewalks
“Towards the end of the project, Levitt & Sons built the "Gates". Having grown up in Snowball Gate, I can tell you it felt less friendly with less of a sense of community than other sections. The larger yards & lack of sidewalks made each home feel more isolated and private, more like modern day sub-divisions. Levitt was targeting a more "executive" customer, promoting the "exclusivity" of the Gates. This was counter to the basic premise of Levittown, where the neighborhood designs celebrated the similar social and economic status of the residents which made for a comfortable, close knit environment. This is what made Levittown work so well.

I know I was always more comfortable hanging out on the sidewalk in front of a friend's house in the Jubilee sections like Highland Park or Upper Orchard where, coincidentally, we were under some parental supervision. If you hung out in front of a friend's house in the "Gates" you felt like you were trespassing. Also, some neighbors did not like it & would complain to your parents. So, we kids in the Gates went and hung out in the woods, doing whatever we wanted, with absolutely no parental supervision. All this because there were no sidewalks. Today, I am a parent of a teenager myself and I say give me a neighborhood with sidewalks.

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