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Prices Too High, We Won’t Buy: The 1969 Long Island Meat Boycott

As communities today struggle to recover from the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, let’s take a look at how one community on Long Island faced a financial crisis during the 1969 recession…

During the summer of 1969, the cost of living was soaring and meat was increasingly more expensive. Middle-class consuming families were choosing to buy cheaper cuts; while, many working-class families as well as senior citizens on fixed incomes were finding it impossible to afford even the cheapest cuts of meat like hamburger. Unwittingly following in the footsteps of thousands of housewives before them, two women in Levittown kicked off a consumer protest that gained national attention. 

 

Despite no prior political involvement and having just given birth to her second child that summer, Mickey DeLorenzo, a local housewife, and her sister, who recently moved to Nassau County, decided to call a boycott of meat. Placing an invitation in the local newspaper, Mickey called on families from her close-knit community to gather at the Levittown Hall, a community space in the town center. The room filled with families angered over the high cost of living. 

With no shopping centers in Levittown, 100 housewives gathered to picket the grocery store at the Hempstead Turnpike shopping center on August 12, 1969. They called themselves For Lower Prices (FLP). Handing out menus for “tasty fish dishes,” the women chanted, “Let the meat rot!,” and “Prices too high, we won’t buy!” 

 

Making this their first stop, the women split up and targeted three supermarkets in the shopping center (L.I. Housewives Stage Boycott on Meat Sales,” New York Times, Aug. 12, 1969.) With her two children including her newborn son in tow, Mickey organized pickets around Nassau County. The pickets enraged the supermarkets and FLP members were threatened with arrest on more than one occasion. By October, DeLorenzo estimated that 1,500 housewives on Long Island were actively participating in the boycott activities (“An Angry Wife Warns of High Meat Costs,” Chicago Tribune, Oct. 8, 1969.)

 

The boycott generated significant media coverage beyond the greater New York area. Within a month of organizing their first picket, FLP members were putting together FLP Kits, starter packets to help other communities organize a meat boycott. With no national coordination, meat boycotts sprung up in Virginia, Connecticut, Colorado, and Florida (“Meat Boycott Leader Criticizes House Panel,” Los Angeles Times, Oct. 8, 1969.)  

I am professor at the University of Illinois writing a book on the history of housewives and consumer activism. If you are one of these women or know women who participated in the 1969 meat boycott or any other meat boycott between 1966-1973, I would very much like to interview you. I will be conducting interviews over the phone and in person throughout the coming months. I can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or at 312-413-0166.

 

—Prof. Emily E. LB. Twarog, University of Illinois


News

It’s been more than 50 years since the Farmingdale High School class of 1964 roamed the halls of their beloved high school, but that doesn’t mean that the memories have faded. The class—the first to graduate from Farmingdale High—came together on Saturday, October 18 at the Marriott in Islandia to celebrate all of the good times past and make new memories as a class.  

Despite the national media attention about Ebola in recent weeks, there is one virus that is actually affecting Long Islanders, Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), with one of the first cases identified in North Hempstead on Sept. 18 and a recent case on Oct. 15 in Suffolk County, which school officials called for the closing of school, as a health precaution. 

 

In Farmingdale, school district officials have been vigilant in their efforts to combat the virus. 


Sports

3rd Grade Division

The Giants and Jets met for the 2nd time this season, with the Giants again getting the victory over the Jets.  Jalen Gordon scored late into the 1st half for the Giants, which turned out to be the only points in the half.  The Giants shut the Jets down for both halves, keeping the offense off the board.  The Jets strong point this weekend was the defense, with Kyle June and Jake Kuller picking up the weekly William June Foundation awards.  In what is turning into a rough offensive season for the Jets, these awards continue to remind the boys of the perseverance and determination of the award’s namesake and his “never say quit” attitude.

 

—Submitted by Paul Caputo


William Merola, a member of the Farmingdale School District’s wrestling program, was recently selected to attend the third annual U.S. Marine Corps Summer Leadership and

Character Development program, which is limited to 150 sophomores and juniors throughout the nation.

 

Over the summer, from July 20-26, Merola attended the third annual Marine Corps recruiting command summer leadership and character academy at the USMC base in Quantico. 

 

The SLCDA (Summer Leadership and Character Development Program) educates high school leaders about Marine Corps Officer Programs by participating in classroom academics, ethics training, accelerated college prep, physical fitness training, a field exercise, a community service component and a field trip to Washington, D.C.


Calendar

Networking Event - October 29

Halloween Parade - October 31

Holiday Craft and Vendor Fair - November 2


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
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The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
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Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
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