Category Archives: Profiles

Flash Mob Feature Film: Avi’s Farewell Tour

Avi Ghandi, owner of Center Lane Stationary in Levittown

Avi Ghandi, owner of Center Lane Stationary in Levittown

Over the summer, more than 100 loyal customers from all across Long Island and beyond, lined up outside the Center Lane Stationary store in Levittown to surprise one of their favorite local business owners, Avi Ghandi.

Operating the Center Lane stationary store for the past ten years, Avi has left a memorable impression on many of the residents of the Levittown community and beyond, with his smiling demeanor and never-ending supply of stories.

So, to show Avi just how much he means to the Levittown community, former Long Islanders Celeste-Hamilton Dennis and her husband Craig orchestrated a “cash” mob to try and help clear out his inventory and help send Avi out in style before Center Lane Stationary shutters its doors.

This story originally appeared on LongIslandWeekly.com on Oct. 2, 2014

Veteran Spotlight: U.S. Navy Veteran Richard Meyerowitz

U.S. Navy Veteran Richard Meyerowitz of Levittown joined the military in 1962, enlisting straight out of high school. While he would never see combat, Meyerowitz served as a boilerman aboard the U.S.S. Dewey amid the United States’ blockade of Cuba.

“They gave us our orders,” Meyerowitz said, “turn any vessels away. If not, blow ‘em out of the water.”

During the blockade, Meyerowitz said he only encountered one ship, which they warned to turn back. Just a kid at the time, Meyerowitz said it didn’t occur to him at the time, how the country could have been on the verge of nuclear war.

This story originally appeared in the Aug. 27, 2014 edition of the Levittown Tribune.

Veteran Spotlight: U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Peter D’Angelo

After graduating from MacArthur High School in the fall of 1994, United States Marine Corps Veteran Sgt. Peter D’Angelo attended one semester at C.W. Post before he decided to drop out and join the military.

“I couldn’t afford it,” D’Angelo said, “so I enlisted.”

Once finished with his basic training at Paris Island, S.C., D’Angelo was assigned to an administrative position in Arlington, Va. There, Deangelo would be put in charge of payroll… until one day when opportunity knocked.

This story first appeared in the Levittown Tribune on Aug. 22, 2014.

Veteran Spotlight: U.S. Air Force Radar Repairman Frank Marcinek

Growing up in a large family, U.S. Air Force Veteran Frank Marcinek, 61, of Levittown, was eager to enlist, hoping to someday follow in the footsteps of his father and eight uncles, all of whom served in either World Word II, Korea or Vietnam.

Graduating from Plainedge High School at age 17, Frank wanted to join the Marine Corps, but was let down when he was told he had to be at least 18 to sign up. After high school, Frank got a job with Con Edison and married his high school sweetheart, Pam. By the fall of 1971, Pam would have their first child, Fred, and by the summer of 1972 she would be pregnant again with their second son, Tom.

This story originally appeared in the Aug. 14, 2014 edition of the Levittown Tribune.

Veteran Spotlight: U.S. Army Radar Operator Angelo Manzo

Photo/VFW2070.org

Photo/VFW2070.org

Stationed in El Paso, Texas from 1957 to 1963 — during the U.S. involvement in Vietnam — U.S. Army Veteran Angelo Manzo of Levittown spent most days working as a radar operator, tracking the skies in case any planes flew in.

In his down time, when there wasn’t much to do, Manzo said he and some of his buddies would go into town or out for a swim.

“I had a good time in El Paso,” Manzo said, remembering how he met a couple of “flyers” with the U.S. Air Force who offered to take him up in their jet.

This story originally appeared in the Aug. 9, 2014 edition of the Levittown Tribune.

Levittown Loves Avi

As nearly any Levittown resident who has wandered the aisles of Center Lane Stationary in the last ten years will tell you, anytime you walk in to the shop you can expect to be greeted with a warm welcome and a big smile from store owner Avi Ghandi.

“Avi is a great guy and we want to show we support him,” said Steve Shaughnessy, a Levittown resident who stops in at least once a week for lottery tickets and snacks.

When Celeste-Hamilton Dennis and her husband Craig eventually left their childhood homes in Long Island for Portland Ore., where they currently reside, they continued to think of Avi, for his kind words, captivating stories, and big heart. They even invited him to the bridal shower.

“He is well loved in the community because he treats everyone as more than a customer,” Celeste said.

This story originally appeared in the June 25, 2014 edition of the Levittown Tribune.

Book Explores Local Theme-Park

Growing up on Long Island, Christopher Mercaldo remembers how, as a child he spent countless hours with his family, marveling at the many different rides and attractions that Adventureland amusement park in Farmingdale had to offer.

Like many kids growing up in the area, Mercaldo says he was smitten with the idea of having his own little slice of Disneyland-magic right here in his backyard.

Adventureland first opened in 1962, at the height of a major suburban boom on Long Island. Over the last 52 years, several attractions have come and gone, but the park has continued providing the same family-friendly fun that it has for years.

“It is so unique,” said Mercaldo, 24. “It’s a small, family owned theme-park… that has stood the test of time.”

This story originally appeared in the June 20, 2014 edition of the Farmingdale Observer

Spotlight on Farmingdale Grad

The world is an open book for Sarina Turbendian, a Farmingdale State College Class of 2014 graduate and village resident.

During the commencement ceremony at Hofstra University last May — when over 1,000 Farmingdale State College students received a diploma — Turbendian said that as she waited with anticipation to hear her name read over the sound system, she was more focused on making sure she did not fall down or shake anybody’s hand the wrong way. She said that it wasn’t until she had gotten home that the realization started to sink in.

“Then it hit me… I graduated,” Turbendian said. “Four years went by so quickly.”

This story originally appeared in the June 14, 2014 edition of the Farmingdale Observer.

Northside Student Skates For A Cause

Participating in this year’s event, 8-year-old figure skater Hiram Cowhey of Farmingdale took the opportunity to showcase his skating skills alongside former Olympic athletes. Currently attending Northside Elementary School, Cowhey said he spends most of his spare time skating in the hopes of one day going pro.

“It was awesome,” Hiram said, “I wasn’t nervous at all.”

This story originally appeared in the Feb. 6, 2014, edition of the Farmingdale Observer

Roy Aletti: The Collector

Some know him simply as “Mr. Christmas” due to his exuberant display of lights and sound that fill his front lawn each December. Others call him a comedian for his quick wit and one-liners that could leave even the surliest of people in stitches.

Easily recognized by his signature mustache and overalls, Harrison resident Roy Aletti is a man of many interests. A lifelong resident of Parsons Street, a painter, a volunteer member of the Harrison Fire Department, a musician, a veteran of a foreign war, a bachelor, a small business owner and a gardener. But perhaps most interesting of all, Aletti is a collector.

Aletti’s childhood chum, Vito L. Faga, Jr. said the display isn’t just made from some items picked up at the local shopping center, either.

“Everything you see is an antique,” Faga said. “He drives all over the country for them.” Aletti said his display includes pieces he has picked up from as far away as Nebraska.

From the 1950s style mailbox addressed to the town of Santa Claus, Ind., to the statuesque toy soldiers that he loans to Rye Playland after the holidays, nearly every item in “Roy’s Christmas Land,” has its own backstory.

“I like to do everything to the extreme, in case you can’t tell,” Aletti said.

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