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Then And Now

Hicksville Gregory Museum celebrates 50th anniversary

On the anniversary of the ribbon cutting at One Heitz Place, Hicksville’s Gregory Museum paused to celebrate.

Memories were shared, friendships renewed and fellowship prevailed as an overflow crowd gathered in the second floor community room, festively decorated for the occasion, for a special program from Museum President Richard Althaus, entitled “50 Years of Service of The Gregory Museum.”  

In his opening remarks Historical Society President Mike Christodoulou said. “Hicksville has a great history. We are family.”

Soon the gathering was glued to the screen for the presentation, as slide after slide, Althaus’ informative narration accompanied the visuals. The room’s silence was broken only by gentle laughter and comments such as “remember that?” or “Look!” at the sight of old friends and special times.  

Originally housed at the Cottage Boulevard home of its namesake, Dr. Gardiner Gregory and his wife, Anne, the museum hosted school trips from the start. Its present location – once a vital village hall and courthouse built in the late 1800s – was transformed from an abandoned and vandalized building thanks to tireless local volunteers.

For some three years, they knocked down walls, built new ones, designed and redesigned, spackled, painted – everything necessary to bring the building to life. Among the helping hands were Botto Mechanical, McKeon Lumber, Ruhback Plate Glass Company, BOCES students and countless community members. One nod to the past remains – a jail cell on the first floor, bars and all.

Now the Gregory Museum is writing its own page in Hicksville’s history as a thriving and innovative educational and scientific institution that is home to regular school tours and projects, natural history collections. Fossils, minerals and butterflies along with science exhibits and community events are only a handful of the attractions

“You want to preserve the history of Hicksville,” Trustee Vera Althaus said.

Before the program, docent and staff entomologist Paul Manton pointed out that the site of the museum “was once the center of town.” With great enthusiasm, Manton told a group of visitors about a dinosaur egg, which came from China, that’s currently on display in a sparking glass case. Among those listening closely was Hicksville resident Elaine Peters.  

“This is a great little museum. There is so much here,” said Peters. “Everything is done in an educational way.”

A member of the Historical Society she recalled working at Thom McCan in Mid Island Plaza (now the Broadway Mall) before it was enclosed. Bubbling with enthusiasm, she remembered bringing her young daughter to the museum constantly and loving every moment.

“Hicksville makes you proud. Hicksville has a Historical Society and we have a museum,” Historical Society President Christodoulou proudly remarked, noting most communities have neither.

After the presentation, attendees dined on delicious sandwiches and homemade baked goods. A special anniversary celebration is being planned for May 1 at the Milleridge Inn.

Echoing the sentiments of residents past and present, Fran Jablonski said, “I love Hicksville.”

To learn more about the Gregory Museum, call (516) 822-7505 or visit gregorymuseum.org.

News

Vastra boutique finds a niche

in hand-embroidered dresses

Who says a bride has to wear white on her wedding day? For South Asian brides, no color is off limits including brilliant reds, blues and golds. For the past 17 years, Vastra in Hicksville has been helping brides from New York and across the country find the perfect dress for their special day.

There’s no lack of Indian sari boutiques in Hicksville but according to Marketing Director Prachi Jain, what sets Vastra apart from the others is its emphasis on one of a kind, hand-embroidered Indian dresses.

Many would consider it rude to play with your food. That is unless, you’re participating in the Long Island Potato Festival. The event, which was held in Cutchogue, NY, included a mashed potato sculpting contest which was dominated by Hicksville’s Sarah Tsang, who won first place in the youth division.

Contestants were allowed to use any tools and materials to help bring their creation to life. Sculptures were left on display throughout the day and voted on by festival goers.


Sports

Somehow LSA, the Levittown Swimming Association, has always been a part of our Hicksville summers. My family’s introduction to the organization in 1975 began when our two older daughters tried out for the Parkway Swim Team, one of the nine teams that competed through July and most of August.

It was no small task for the younger girl, swimming her first full lap in the deep end of the pool to qualify at age six, but both girls made the team and donned the coveted gray tee shirts as the trees cast their shadows over the pool water at the end of practice.

I’m convinced that the soul and the center of Hicksville is Cantiague Park. And why not? Every weekend it’s a beehive of activity ranging from tennis matches, hand ball games, basketball and baseball games, swimming, hockey and of course ‘the beautiful game’ called soccer. Cantiague has two professional soccer fields that are perfectly manicured and begging to be played on. And they were. This weekend was the finals of the East Meadow Soccer Tournament which is one of the largest youth soccer tournaments in the nation, sponsored by the US Soccer Federation. There were 18 boys and girls teams in the finals and a large staff of referees.

Two of the refs were Steven Orozco and Randy Vogt who told me how soccer had been growing and has now become the second most popular participation sport in America with 25 million of us watching this year’s World Cup.  I also met and interviewed Joe Codispoti who along with Tim Bradbury is the head coach of Rockville Centre United, a U16 boys club.  This U16 team has a group of standout players led by  Jack Graziano, AJ Codispoti and Pat Basile who have been playing together for six years.


Calendar

Close Encounters with Benevolent ETs and Ascended Masters

August 29

Adventures in Genealogy

September 4

Greek Festival

September 5-7



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