Growing Together on Long Island

Written By: Lydia  Speizio

“Growing Together on Long Island” Written by: Lydia Speizio Fifty- two years and counting, with a husband of thirty years and three wonderful children and the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of the East End of Long Island is the past of our families on this beautiful, truly one of a kind, place. You may ask, where did my Long Island life begin, born Polish-Italian and married Italian. Both of our families descending from their original countries to find a new life and settle in Brooklyn, New York, so many worlds apart eventually to connect on our beautiful east end. On my mother’s side, her grandparents were both born and raised in Warsaw, Poland. Living on the same block as many of their Jewish friends, during a very devastating time in history. Unfortunately they had seen many of their friends and neighbors fall into Concentration Camps, where many did not survive. With such conflicts arising the need for a new life and settlement had become their reality, bringing their family to safety and leaving their home to start their new life in America. When arriving in America, my Great Grandparents had been blessed with three beautiful Polish-American children. My grandmother was one of these three children, growing up in Brooklyn, New York she was surrounded by the diversity of this beautiful country and had found her future husband and my grandfather within the city limits. My grandfather was born and raised in Sicily, Italy where they were facing hardships as well which had forced them to leave their home and also settle in America to find their new life of peace, happiness and freedom. Living in Brooklyn, New York was a new found life for my grandfather but once he had met my grandmother this whole American thing just seemed to fall into place. After several years of being married, the struggle of being a young couple in the big city was becoming a big problem. My grandfather’s family owned Butcher Shop could no longer put anything more than food on their table for their family of two young daughters. They were living a life of poverty amongst thousands of others who could not seem to get completely on their feet. With their own families coming from years of struggling they knew they had to do something in order to live the American dream their families had hoped for. Those who surrounded them within the city were constantly speaking of this beautiful place known as Long Island. The people of the city spoke so highly of this East End, they knew many people both family and friends that were moving out to the Island to live the newfound Suburbia life style and they too had decided they shall do the same. Meanwhile, my father’s family who had also came from Poland had settled on what is now the property of the Longwood Public Library in Middle Island, New York. As a little girl, visiting my grandparents’ house I never would have believed that little kitchen we had supper in was once a school house for the children of the farmers in the area. My grandfather would have to travel out east every day to work the Potato fields with others who had traveled from Poland only several years prior. While my grandfather was out working on the farms, my grandmother was a stay at home mother raising her two sons, my father and my uncle, and maintaining their little cottage of a home. Living out in Middle Island during this time period was very different than what it is now, with the only education available above grade school was offered only at Port Jefferson, High School just several towns away. With years following he had met my mother and eventually married not long after graduating from high school, and several years later they were blessed with four children, myself included. My husbands’ family had also came to America from Italy, settling in Brooklyn and eventually moving out to Long Island. My father-in- law had bought a piece of property out East on Long Island as a summer home for him, my mother-in-law and their three children at the time. They had fallen in love with the land that they had decided to settle permanently and leave the big city behind them. With help from family members who had traveled out from Brooklyn, my father-in-law built his home from the ground up. They would spend every weekend working on the extension of the house and the development of the beautiful land, which would eventually be the home of three more children, with my husband included. With the house built and yard coming together, they had decided to begin to raise horses of their own and although they never farmed on their own land, they had depended on their friends and neighbors for their fresh fruits and vegetables because the grocery store was miles and miles away. My father-in-law was able to foreshadow the growth of the island and had started his own construction business to help support their family. They had a strong love for nature, animals and would spend days upon days outside enjoying the beauty, and peace of all four seasons Long Island had to offer. My mother-in-law stayed home and raised her beautiful family of six children, she was the typical Italian mother with fresh meals and big family events. Their home had become the weekend visit spot for their families that lived back in Brooklyn. Family and friends loved coming out to live the rural lifestyle for the weekend that their family was so blessed to experience every day of their lives. They were caring and generous people and all were always welcome, they knew how blessed they were and knew that something and some place so beautiful is meant to be shared and loved by all those who surround them. Eventually, I too was blessed to call their beautiful family and rural life my own. Our families who had come from different parts of the world, stories similar but yet very different seemed to purposely collide and end up in the same place. There was and still is something very special about this part of New York that truly makes it one of a kind. Living on Long Island is like living in no other place in the world, as a little girl we would go out to the east end to enjoy the beautiful beaches and parks. When I had married my husband and our children were little my fondest memories were apple picking and pumpkin picking on a crisp fall day , seal watching in the heart of winter and the warm nights of summer time camping on the white sandy beaches. Now that our children are grown they are enjoying their trips out east on their own such as I did with my husband many years ago. To this day, I enjoy the boating life and wineries that fill our beautiful land. Here is the story of my family’s history, which lead me to where I am today. The struggles of our families but success in the end has shown me to always live life to the fullest, to realize that each downward will be followed but an upward and that each path is just part of your journey. Life is one big journey, one big ride and without the beauties of Long Island my life would not be what it is today. I encourage that every person who lives both on and off Long Island, travel out to visit the east end during each season at least once in their life, because I can promise it will change their life forever, such as it has mine. The beauty you’ll experience is truly like nothing you have ever experienced before, each season is like a different world and each “world,” will bring you different feelings of joy. “Life’s a journey, enjoy your ride to the east end.”