“This town was a horrible place to live,” Howard Stern said in a 2006 “60 Minutes” profile while revisiting his childhood neighborhood. “It was a nightmare,” is a sentiment he reiterated in his book “Private Parts” and often on the air, where he’s projected his childhood in Roosevelt as a miserable experience.
By the time Stern started high school there, he was just one of a few whites still left. And he recalls living in fear, repeatedly tormented and beaten up by black students while the teachers turned their backs. This is in stark contrast to how his old friends remember Roosevelt, at least, the Roosevelt of the early 1960s.
It was idyllic. That’s how Jerry Dikowitz, currently of Plainview, remembers his Long Island childhood. Back then, his one-square-mile town appeared to be the quintessential middle-class neighborhood: neat suburban houses, tree-lined sidewalks. From his home at 45 Meyer Street, young Jerry would run out and meet up with his friends, including Howard Stern, on nearby Hausch Boulevard and Pennywood Avenue. They’d play ball, listen to rock and roll records, or walk over to the five and dime on Nassau Road, the main commercial strip, where there were also restaurants, a toy store, supermarkets, a bowling alley and a movie theater.
This was Roosevelt just before the NAACP called for the desegregation of all of the neighborhood schools, two of which at the time were all black and all white. Soon after that, the ‘hood became a dumping ground for welfare families and blockbusting. Whites moved out in droves, except of course, for Stern’s family.
It’s a shame, because he’s seemed to black out the good parts of his childhood, which I’ve captured in my Newsday cover story today.
Howard, if you’re reading this, I hope it brings back memories of better days…