If you are having any difficulty using this website, please contact the Help Desk at Help@nullHofstra.edu or 516-463-7777 or Student Access Services at SAS@nullhofstra.edu or 516-463-7075. Please identify the webpage address or URL and the specific problems you have encountered and we will address the issue.

Skip to Main Content
Hofstra University Library Special Collections

Diverse Suburbs Oral History Collection

Theme: Home

Clips from the Tom Murray Interview


JP: Now you, you said that you and your parents moved around quite a bit when you came to Long Island. But what, you know, how old were you when final, was there like a point when you settled down in one, in one location?

TM: The point where we settled down was I was about nine years old. And that's when we moved from Graham  Avenue, which was my grandfather's house, which he owned, which was unusual back then, and into the, what they called the projects then. Three stories high, but they called them projects. Which is no longer there. That was torn down and they built some other apartment buildings there.

JP: Now so is that-What would you consider your home? I mean you said you lived around here for so long. What was, what was your home growing up?

TM: I consider my home being 63 Elm Avenue. And I would say from nine until 18 that's where I lived. And at 18, five days after high school, I went into the Marine Corps.

JP: And what did what did that, those projects look like? What did you [inaudible]?

TM: They were three stories, approximately 80 occupants. It was, the building number were 63, 67 Elm. You had one building 50 Beach Avenue. No, yeah. One building 71 Laurel Avenue. And it was a mixture of, you know,  middle class people and people who I believe were on substance. You know, we weren't but I believe they were. It, it was a, a mixture, a blend of white  folks, black folks, you know. The area itself was a very integrated area with Polish people, Irish people, Italian people. That's how the area was. That's how Hempstead was when I was growing up in Hempstead.

JP: Would, if it, you know, was such a, a gray mix, was it a tight knit sort of community? Or what, what was the?

TM: Yeah, it was the, the store owners in the community. There was a store. It was owned by a Jewish guy. All I knew was Stanley. I never knew his whole name. It was, "Are you going to go to Stanley's?" And that was located on Laurel and Maple Avenue, a corner. Then there was a store, Miss Butch [phonetic]. I think she was German. And that was on Elm and Laurel. And then there was the, the main store that everyone went to because it was basically the closest. That was called Miss Pete's. And it was an old German lady who for the most part never really ran it. Her kids did. But it was Miss Pete's store. That was located on Beach Avenue. The southeast corner of Beach Avenue and Elm Avenue.

JP: Now were those sort, those stores like sort of hang out spots for the, the area?
TM: Well, they, they were mom and pop stores. But there was no real hanging out back in that era. You know, you know, there was a park right across from Miss Pete's. So the whole concept of hanging out wasn't a thing out on Long Island back then. We would go to the park. We would play baseball or whatever. Where the new high school is now off of Peninsula Boulevard, that was just a large park area. And we would go down there and watch the  semi-pro baseball team, which was owned by an Italian  person, Jimmy Capello. And he owned a store that was on Linden Avenue. And we would go down in that area and watch, you know, his semi-pro baseball team.

JP: What were those games like? Just a casual kind of thing or was everybody real into it?

TM: No, no, they, they, they, they took them serious.

JP: Yeah?

TM: And then what we used to do is-Which is now what is now Peninsula Boulevard used to be called Old Mill road. And it was a dirt road. In that area you had about four or five places where you could ride horses, horse academies. So every now and then it, it was a treat. You know, you get $3.50 together and you would go down and you would go horseback riding around what is now the new Hempstead high  school. And then we would go swimming in the reservoir, which you can physically see from Southern State Parkway going west. We used to swim in there. You know, I mean that's, you know, with the tire and the string. That's how I grew up.

JP: So it sounds to me like it was a little more rural than it is now.

TM: Yes. Oh, yes, much more rural.

JP: Yeah.

TM: Yeah.

JP: And yet, and you lived in like an apartment complex [inaudible]?

TM: Yeah. It was an apartment complex. On each floor there was a [unintelligible]. Apartments from A to G. And it was very, very comfortable. You know, it wasn't as, it wouldn't be anywhere near what people would describe today as a ghetto. It, that concept wasn't that at all, you know. We were not rich people, but no one ever felt poor, you know. And looking back now it's, it's kind of funny, you know? You know my bedroom back there is, my bathroom now is bigger than the bedroom was. But, you know, I mean it was it was a good time to, it was a good period to grow up in Hempstead.

JP: What did the inside of your, of your apartment look like?

TM: When you entered the door there was a closet to your right hand side. As you walked maybe five feet, seven feet, that was the living room. And four or five more feet was the kitchen area. Farther into the apartment would've  been the bathroom. All of this is on your right hand side. Then it would be the two bedrooms. You know, two bedrooms. And that was that was the size of it.

JP: What, do you remember...

TM: But it wasn't congested at all. It wasn't.

JP: It was comfortable?

TM: Yeah, very comfortable. Very comfortable.

JP: How many people lived in there, in that apartment again?

TM: My parents, myself and, and my brother Levi.

JP: So four.

TM: Four, just four.