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Westbury Grad Publishes Book, Born in Forty-Two

Michael P. Kost witnessed construction of Berlin Wall

The times, they are a-changin’.

Michael Kost, who attended Westbury High School from 1957 to 1960, remembers simpler days: Sadie Hawkins dances, cruising down Hempstead Turnpike (trying to “make a statement” for girls on the sidewalks), respect for one’s elders, malted milkshakes after football games and $2 bleacher seats at Yankee Stadium.

Kost’s father worked at the Republican Aviation aircraft plant in Farmingdale during a time when “unemployment rate” wasn’t as common a term as it is today.

“You never heard of people being unemployed. Jobs were available if desired,” said Kost.

He recalls Rudy’s Hardware, Russo Shoe Store, Wheatley Hills Tavern, Cherry Lane Restaurant and Lounge, Donahue Funeral Parlor and Socks – well-known establishments in the area. He remembers people being more involved in the community, whether it was semi-pro football games, bowling or softball teams, volunteer firefighting, American Legion, Knights of Columbus, Veterans of Foreign Wars or the Elks Club. Kost was there when Westbury and Carle Place became two separate school districts.

He remembers when neighbors cared for one another, when families and friends sat by the television Friday and Saturday nights, when relatives came for dinner each week – not just on holidays.

After high school, Kost enlisted in the U.S. Army and later witnessed the construction of the Berlin Wall in Germany; he’s seen his share of changes since then.

His first book, Born in Forty-Two, is a non-fiction retrospective of events in America over the past 70 years. Kost combines insight with creative sidelines, a literary technique that interjects facts between chapters to “challenge individual readers to seek additional knowledge about these events,” said Kost in his introduction.

The author pays tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen, the first black officers and fighter pilots to join the Air Force during World War II and to the 100th Battalion 442nd “Go for Broke” unit, an all Japanese-American division fighting for their country while many of the young men’s families lived in internment camps on American soil.

The book also covers the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Civil Rights Movement, the Cold War and myriad aspects of American life, along with its transformations, since the 1950s.

“You know America is a great country, and we all appreciate what it has done, and millions of people would love to be a part of America. But we do have some dark sides in history and it should be brought out, not hidden. And it has to be respected. We can only justify what are true facts and make a solid opinion,” said Kost.

Kost calls the book a “major milestone” in his life and a gratifying experience.

“My sole desire for this book is to provide interest to some people about certain things, and maybe stimulate different opinions,” said Kost, who described his Russian-born grandfather as inspiration for the book.  

Kost currently lives in Hawaii with his wife, Alicia. The couple spends time in the Philippines, where they raise cattle.

Born in Forty-Two, a Vantage Press (www. vantage­press.com) publication, will be printed May 15.