2018-08-23 / Columnists

Babylon News & Muse

•The beginning of the school year is almost here and I recall vividly how excited I was when it was time to go school shopping. It makes me remember my childhood. Being good, Irish-Catholics in the 1950s, we were sent to St. Joseph’s School here in Babylon. In addition to outfitting us with uniforms and school supplies, it also meant that Dad had to come up with the money for tuition, too. It seems to me that there may have been some sort of break in tuition for big families, but I’m not sure of that.

Both Mom and Dad came to Babylon in 1950 from Brooklyn. They already had several children and were lucky enough to find a house they could afford, located in Argyle Park. Our family would live in that house for more than 60 years. My parents were wise enough to have the attic converted into two more bedrooms and a bathroom when they moved in because by 1955 they had four daughters and two sons. I was their fourth child, with another boy and girl following me.

For a number of years, Dad was a commuter, like so many of the people in Babylon. He had worked his way through law school prior to marrying my mother, but getting established as a lawyer took him several years. He spent much of his time working for the Dime Savings Bank in real estate.

Sometime in the mid-1950s, Dad took a leap of faith and set up his own office here in Babylon. His office was located on the second floor of 90 East Main Street, the building that sits between Gemelli’s and the First Presbyterian Church. He was there for several years, until he was able to buy a small building on the southeast corner of George and Cooper Streets.

Shortly after Mom and Dad moved to Babylon, he was asked to run for office as a Village Trustee. He won election and would continue to be elected to a public office for the next 40+ years. In the 1960s, he succeeded Gil Hanse as the Mayor of Babylon, resigning a couple of years later in order to become the Village Justice of the Peace. He served as our judge for 26 years, up to his death in 1991.

All of us attended St. Joseph’s at some time or another and then we all went on to attend Babylon’s public schools.

My mother became an avid gardener, keeping our yard full of flowering trees and plants. Then, in 1971, she got together a group of like-minded people and founded the Babylon Beautification Society.

At the time, the Village, like most places, was going through tough times. There were numerous empty storefronts and many other shops seemed to teeter on the edge of having to close. But all that changed, in large part because of the Beautification Society.

With the encouragement of Mayor Hanse, the Society began to make Babylon look lovely. Flower Baskets were hung on telephone poles, and merchants were encouraged to place flowerboxes in front of their stores.

Babylon became to look more and more prosperous and with the help of hundreds of village residents, small gardens began to pop up on Village property.

The first Babylon Fair was held in the high school parking lot that fall, as a garage sale fundraiser for the Babylon Beautification Society. The next year it was moved to Argyle Park, and by the third year, the Babylon Beautification Country Fair started.

Obviously, I am very proud of both of my parents. They showed us by their example how important it is for people to contribute to the well being of the place where they live.

•The Beautification Society needs residents to help man the booths in both the food and children’s areas.

The Fair will be held on September 9th in Argyle Park. To help or get information about the fair or the Beautification Society, you can go to their webpage, www.BabylonBeautificationSociety. Or call Mary Adams at 631-661- 7200.

•By the way, I have just learned that the Chamber of Commerce is planning two evening block parties on Deer Park Avenue. The first will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. on August 30, and the second will be held on September 20 during the same hours. Deer Park Avenue will be closed down to enable people to wander through the business district and enjoy both events. There will be live music, games for children, and outdoor dining. It sounds like fun, so put the dates down on your calendar!

Happy birthday to Raoul Castaneda and Kim Rose Berry!

Readers can contribute items to News and Muse. Send them to the Beacon, 65 Deer Park Ave., Babylon NY 11702, or via email at acjnews@rcn.com. Please put News and Muse in the subject line

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