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Memories of Malverne: Part I

My thoughts on Malverne's disappearing vacant lots while growing up in the village in the 1940s.

This is my first attempt with a blog, so please bear with me.

My name is David Cartenuto. My family moved to 88 Hawthorne Place in 1943 and my parents lived at that address until April of 1980. I was 1 when we got there. In these blogs, I will share some of my own memories of what Malverne was like when I was growing up.

One thing I will never forget is how building lots (read informal shortcuts/playgrounds) disappeared. Take the immediate area around Hawthorne Place and Wright Avenue. There was an empty lot next to 88, all the way to the corner of Wright Avenue. We played in that lot endlessly, flying balsa gliders, throwing a ball and all the other things kids did.

My dad had an option to buy that lot, but had to give it up when it appeared he would be called up to serve during WWII. He did not enjoy having to mow it! Across the street there was also an empty lot with a path through it, used by many on their way to Our Lady of Lourdes, or by those of us who wanted to walk through it instead of all the way to the corner and around.

In 1947 or so, a builder named Mr. Carrier built three houses on those lots: two across the street from each other (97 and 98 Hawthorne) and one facing Wright Avenue. While those were being built and finished, there were great holes in the ground and we enjoyed climbing in and out until Mr. Carrier’s son would chase us away! He was also building a house across from the end of Johnson Avenue, now number 78 Hawthorne. That hole with the pile of dirt in front of it became a sleigh riding hill in the winter of 1947 to 1948.

Mr. Carrier built many houses in Malverne and all were stucco…you can see them today and they were distinctive, though basically the same depending on the lot size. One day, I saw him crossing the street from 97 Hawthorne Place to 98, which was just finished. He had a suitcase and clothes on a hanger. I asked him (I was all of 5 or 6) what he was doing. He said that after he finished a house, he always lived in it for a bit to make sure all was in order…a tribute to him, I now realize.

On balance, do I regret the loss of the shortcuts and informal playgrounds? No way! Why? We gained so many friends from those new houses…too numerous to mention! We shared what it was to grow up together; to play after school and in the summers, to share trips to the beach, or rides to Lindner Place School when it rained. We once counted 26 kids between the ages of 2 and 16. We were more like a big family than most.

One particular event I remember was the nightly boxball game with the two corners of Johnson Avenue and Hawthorne as bases on one side, and the curbs on either side of 78 Hawthorne as the other two. Those games went on until it got dark. That intersection was the meeting place for all sorts of activities.

I could go on, and I will on other subjects, but I hope this is a small start.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Sean Patrick Brennan February 22, 2012 at 09:01 PM
This was wonderful! I've only been a Malverne resident since 2009, but my mother and her sisters grew up here in the 40s and 50s (the Horning family in case that rings any bells for anyone). My Aunt Jane still lives in town too in the same house. I'm looking forward to reading much more from you! Thank you for taking the time to document your reflections!
Gina Genti February 23, 2012 at 12:23 AM
Thank you Mr. Cartenuto. I hope to be able to read more about your memories of Malverne.

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