Flickhead

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Wantagh Daydream

A pictorial reflection

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I grew up in the town of Wantagh, on the south shore of Long Island, about a forty-five-minute train ride from Manhattan. Back in the ‘60s it was a small, nearly bucolic suburban area about to feel the pinch of over development, swelled egos and swelling debt. A bedroom community for ‘The Dashing Commuter,’ it’s now littered with ugly overpriced housing, a downtown area that knows no zoning laws, and taxes that’ll make your head spin.

These photographs were taken in 1961, and are a fairly accurate reflection of what I remember Wantagh to be. But it doesn’t look anything like this today.—Flickhead

Update: A debt of thanks to Mr. Bill Braine, who has kindly provided recent photographs of the same locations that are displayed here as thumbnails; click the smaller image for ‘before-and-after’ comparisons.

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Carvel.jpg

Above: The Carvel Ice Cream store on Wantagh Avenue. In the spring and summer my father used to take me there after dinner (and before Mr. Ed) for a vanilla ice cream cone with sprinkles. Below: The same location now specializes in Souvlakis (click to enlarge).

Want1130a.jpg

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Cherrywood1961.jpg

Above: The Cherrywood Shopping Center on the corner of Wantagh Avenue and Jerusalem Avenue. We used to get pizza on Friday or Saturday night from the Cherrywood Lounge (far right corner). Below: The same location today, with an expanded parking lot (click to enlarge).

want1130b.jpg

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FlowerFarm.jpg

Above: Daurenheim Nursery, directly across from Cherrywood. A lot of the area still had farms and open fields. Not so anymore, as evidenced by the photo below of the same location, now a sea of condos (click to enlarge).

want1130c.jpg

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McMurphyShoppingCenter.jpg

Above: The A&P shopping center, on the corner of Wantagh Avenue and Park Avenue. The grocery store was in direct competition with Waldbaum’s across the street (out of camera range). There were dozens of different businesses in these storefronts over the years. Below, the same location today (click to enlarge).

Want1130d.jpg

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StFrancisChurch.jpg

Above: St. Francis de Chantel, located on Wantagh Avenue. As a ten-year-old, rabid 007 fan, I used to wear a shoulder holster beneath my suit, packing a Walther PPK cap pistol at Sunday mass. After the building caught fire it was reconstructed as shown below (click to enlarge).

Want1130e.jpg

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WantaghTheater1961.jpg

Above: The Wantagh Theatre on Jerusalem Avenue. Its kitschy ‘50s logo was unique. Inside there was a ‘smoking loge’ which cost more to sit in. I went there countless times over the years. The earliest films I remember seeing there include The Great Race, Our Man Flint, and a mid-‘60s double feature of Psycho with Torn Curtain. In the ‘70s they had midnight shows, stuff along the lines of Night of the Bloody Apes and Ssssssss. All of it gone today—it’s now professional offices as shown below (click to enlarge).

Want1130f.jpg

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Flickhead                                                        
Copyright © 2005 by Ray Young