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Longtime East Rockaway Resident Turns 95

Virginia Walsh has lived in East Rockaway since 1955.

Virginia Walsh has seen it all.

The East Rockaway resident, who celebrated her 95th birthday on Saturday, sat in her Rhame Avenue home on Thursday afternoon and reminisced about her rich life in the village.

But first, it was all about Brooklyn. 

Walsh was born in an apartment building next to Ebbets Field in 1917. She grew up in both the Flatbush and Flatlands area of Brooklyn.     

In 1942, she married Howard Walsh. Virginia gave birth to three girls before moving to Levittown in 1950. Five years later, the Walsh family found their way to East Rockaway, settling on Lawson Avenue.

"I had relatives who lived in East Rockaway," Walsh said. "When I was a child, I used to come to their house for the summer. It was a cute town — a nice little village."

Walsh worked as a secretary in the East Rockaway High School guidance department from 1959 through 1971. 

"I really enjoyed it," she said.  

Needing more space, Virginia and Howard moved to Rhame Avenue in 1968. 

During her time in the village, Walsh has seen various construction projects transform the village from what it used to be.

"There was no Atlantic Avenue, which is the big street through here," she said. "It was Main Street and then they split it and it became Atlantic Avenue and Main Street. It made more traffic and made it more convenient for business. It changed the town quite a bit."

The road split allowed for the birth of a bustling business quarter — something that was foreign to residents in 1955. In fact, when the Walsh family moved to the village, very few businesses were setting up shop.

"There was a drug store and a supermarket on Main Street," Walsh said. "They're all gone now. It's changed quite a bit."

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Walsh also recalled changes to the library and the disappearance of a favorite eating spot.

"The library used to be in the professional building on Atlantic Avenue," she said. "There was a diner on the corner where the Chase bank is. ... There was also a restaurant down by the post office. It was a very nice, old restaurant."

"One morning, we woke up and there was no restaurant," she added. "They knocked it down."

But the demolition of the diner hardly ruined her love of the place she has made her home. Among the many things Walsh likes about the village is its small size.

"It's a very close knit town," she said. "It's a nice town with nice people. We were very happy here."

Walsh is also quick to point out the proximity to New York City.

“It’s convenient to [go to] the city,” she said. "The railroad is right here."

Always happy with her surroundings, Walsh says she's never seriously considered leaving the village.

"My husband, at one time, was anxious to move," she said. "But we never did. We stayed here."

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