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Procida, Gaspar

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I remember when I was a boy and we were 5 kids living over the Barber Shop in a railroad apartment with one bathroom. We weren't allowed to hang out on the corner because a cop would come by and hit you on the leg with a night stick and send you home.

We had no telephone and we would have to go to Al Bogna's Candy Store to make a call. Sometimes we got calls there from Brooklyn.

Brother, Al, and I were alter boys at St. Martin's. During wartime, there were many weddings and we would get half a day off from school to do the weddings. If we got $2.00 for a wedding, it was a lot.

The town had a World War II Honor Roll board across from the Barber Shop with a flag on it. We would put the flag up in the morning and take it down at sunset. Once a month, we had dances at the American Legion Hall. These were run by Father Levy. He had to leave after 4 years because Father Hartigan didn't like his smoking. The whole town protested his leaving and they boycotted the church. Some people went to St. Ignatius in Hicksville and some to St. Killian's in Farmingdale, and some just stayed away. Nothing helped and Father Levy went on to start a CYO in Mineola.

We then got Father Thomas, another young priest. He took charge of the alter boys and in the summer he would take us to the Bayshore Seminary to go swimming in the bay on the south shore.

Later on, Father Hanley came to Bethpage. A very big and very smart man. He would come into the Barber Shop and read the TIMES very quickly and then tell you all about the news. Father Hanley was transferred to Rockville Centre and started the LONG ISLAND CATHOLIC newspaper.

I remember: The Powell Avenue School didn't have an indoor basketball court, so we had to play outside in all kinds of weather. Sometime we had to shovel the snow first. At suppertime, we would usually hear our mother whistle for us from the Barber Shop and if you didn't get home in time, you didn't eat and usually you got smacked with the strap on your way up the stairs. When I was old enough to go caddying, I had to get up at 3 a.m. to get on the caddy list. You got $1.25 for carrying 2 bags for 18 holes. If you didn't lose any balls you'd get a tip. Then we got working papers to go to work on various potato farms, DeLalio's, Walsh and Mulenhofe. You were lucky if you made $1.00 a day. Across the street from the Beau Sejour was a huge string bean farm from Stewart Avenue and up Central Avenue. When the beans were ready to be picked, the whole town would come out and each person got 2 rows and that was it. You'd get 35 cents a bushel and if you made $1.00 for the day you were lucky. When we picked potatoes we had to get 2 pecks to make a 100 lb. sack and you got 6 cents a bag and l cent extra if you loaded it on the truck. One Christmas, Santa came up the stairs and brought Al and I a tricycle to share and gifts for my sisters. Years later I was getting gas at Benkert's Gas Station and owner Fred Benkert told me he was that Santa.

We had very hard times but many, many happy memories and no time to get in trouble, so it made "better" people out of all of us.

Information from Gaspar (Cas) Procida.

To acknowledge the accomplishments of the Procida family - the family and friends surprised Cas Procida, at the close of the day, by walking into his shop and saluting him. Councilwoman Mary McCaffrey from the Town of Oyster Bay and long time resident of Bethpage presented Cas with a Proclamation from the Town of Oyster Bay acknowledging his many years of serving the Bethpage Community. A very proud day for the Procida family and a very astonished Cas Procida. All very deserving! Sorry, I do not have the date this event took place at this time.

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