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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

Bring your four-legged friends—in costume if they’d like—to roam Old Westbury Gardens during ‘Dog Days.’ Twice a year canines are welcome to accompany their (leashed) humans around the grounds of the mansion, and this is Fido’s last shot until spring. On Sunday, enjoy exhibits from rescue groups and animal welfare organizations from 1 to 4 p.m. A dog costume contest and parade takes place at 3 p.m. All activities included with admission: $8, $5 for seniors and $3 for children ages 7 to 17. At 71 Old Westbury Rd., Westbury, Saturday, Oct. 25 and Sunday, Oct. 26 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tel: 516-333-0048.


Mentorship is one of those goals rotary clubs strive for, particularly when it comes to grooming future community business leaders. Nowhere was this more important than when the most recent Farmingdale Breakfast Rotary meeting’s guests were Stanley Pelech, director of Integrated Academic and Technical studies and Jodi Haniquet, advisor of the Farmingdale High School (FHS) Interact club. Interact is Rotary International’s service club for young people. The Farmingdale Breakfast Rotary is the sponsor of the 75-plus student strong high school club. Advisor Jodi Haniquet reported to Rotary club members what  fundraising events the Interact Club will participate in for the 2015 school year. The service group will once again team with FHS student government in a food drive – donations collected for Island Harvest pantries. They will also participate in Ronald McDonald house dinner program – cooking and serving meals on the premises in New Hyde Park for the many families staying at the residence while their seriously ill children receive treatment at nearby hospitals.


Sports

The Farmingdale State College Women’s Volleyball team earned a three-set victory of York in a non-conference match on Oct. 8. 

 

Tied 4-4 in the opening set, Farmingdale State freshman defensive specialist Gina Giacalone served for 14 consecutive points to extend the advantage 18-4. The Rams cruised to a 25-8 victory in the first set. 

Farmingdale team wins annual Bethpage Ocean to Sound Race

On Sunday, Sept. 28, the Farmingdale-based Runner’s Edge team earned first place overall in the 29th annual Bethpage Ocean to Sound Relay. The team, representing the Runner’s Edge running and multisport specialty store located at 242 Main St. in Farmingdale, consisted of Boyd Carrington, Andrew Coelho, Nick Pampena, Tim Lee, Shawn Anderson, Ryan Healy, Kevin Galante, and Brandon Abasolo. It completed the 50-mile course from Jones Beach State Park to Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park in Oyster Bay in 4 hours, 41 minutes, 58 seconds. The runners won by a margin of more than 10 minutes over the runner-up team from the Sayville & Smithtown Running Company, with much of the difference supplied by the strong Leg 2 performance by Andrew Coelho. Runner’s Edge Teams also took second place honors in the Mixed Open and Men’s Masters Divisions of the Relay. The Relay was sponsored by Bethpage Federal Credit Union (“Built to Give You More”), with new Race Directors Glen Wolther and Keith Montgomery managing the event for the host Greater Long Island Running Club.


Calendar

Women's Club of Farmingdale - October 16

Board of Trustees Work Session - October 20

Jack O'Lantern Extravaganza - November 2


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com