"Yes. I've been a long-term resident of the suburbs," the attractive woman next to me replied in answer to my question. Her brown eyes seethed with excitement. "And I think the word ‘term' is very appropriate. It's been almost a jail sentence!"
We looked around us as we drove through the streets of one of the towns in a suburban area called The Five Towns, on Long Island. Neat little houses bordered the roads, each painted white and framed by shrubbery or forsythia, with the number of the house painted in script above the garage. Often, a car was parked in the driveway. It seemed to be Hollywood's version of suburbia-a way of life to which every young woman facing marriage must aspire. A house-split-level, ranch or colonial style-in a suburb close enough to the city to offer entertainment on week-ends, yet far enough away to supply fresh air, a golf course, good schools for the children. It seemed to be the best of two possible worlds: a marriage of country life and city conveniences.
"It isn't," we were assured. "It has all of the drawbacks of living in the city-the crowds, the traffic, the exhaust fumes. And none of the advantages!" Here is the story she poured out to me, a story that had obviously been pent up inside her heart for years: When we moved out here it was beautiful. There were acres and acres of woodlands-elm trees, oak, birch and sassafras-and there were birds and wild life inhabiting them. Michael was two years old then. He's twenty now, and off at Yale, so I guess that must have been in 1947.
Louis and I plunked down every penny we owned for this white colonial style house you see. Then Deena came along (she's fifteen now) and Robbie (he's seven). But by the time Robbie was born, our town had changed so much I couldn't recognize it!
Instead of woodlands, there were houses-acres and acres of them. Each on its little 60 by 100 foot plot, each almost identical to the next. Back in the 50's, a group of us got together and petitioned the city fathers to set aside part of the woodlands as a public park. We were defeated. A real estate developer bought the property and built 5,000 homes, one almost on top of the next. Each has a little plot of garden, each has a driveway, each has a garage which houses a car- often two, sometimes three. And every day, each of those cars from those 5,000 homes pours onto roads which weren't meant to accommodate them. These days, getting from one place to another isn't just a test of driving skill, it's a test of patience and endurance! Sometimes when the crowds converge on those ugly shopping centers that have sprung up recently, it takes longer to get from one end of the Five Towns than it takes to drive to the city!"
Thanks to J Gelber & ModernMechanix.com