Category Archives: MOVING TO THE ‘BURBS





dipIn 1946 I had an interesting assignment in activating a large regional office for the Veterans Administration in Brooklyn, N.Y.  Subsequently, in 1952, I transferred to the Maritime Administration, and in December 1953, I was assigned to my present civil service position with the Air Force.  It is a very challenging position, requiring travel by commercial and military aircraft, all over the country, reviewing administrative operations and procedures.  In Manpower and Organization, the key words are – manpower, materials, machines, money and methods.

A lot of work went into this piece of paper; My Master’s Degree as anyone can attest who has received their diploma. This one though was particularly satisfying as I had received a lot of help along the way from friends and family. I promised myself it would be put to good use in the coming years.

My dissertation was published in the spring 1956, Journal of Public Administration, New York Chapter of the American Society of Public Administration. It was titled: MANPOWER ALLOCATION AND UTILIZATION IN THE AIR FORCE. The thesis was well-received and the conclusions that I provided for stated: A commander can best improve the use of his manpower through efficient organization and effective application of sound management techniques. Of which is something I’ve always strived for. A function of command is to ensure that manpower is allocated utilized most effectively accomplished assigned missions. In addition to a comprehensive knowledge of established policies and applicable regulation of management techniques and procedures a balance of knowledge and understanding will contribute to successful manpower utilization as one continuously is able to review and to the best of their ability is able to perceive decreasing workload as well as increasing workload. Such knowledge and understanding will contribute measurably to a well-balanced, simplified organization, and will result in maximum utilization of personnel, equipment and funds. Little did I know that from this foundation and the basis of my Master’s Dissertation that it would put me in good stead not only in my immediate duties and responsibilities with the Continental Air Command (CONAC) but with future endeavors as with the Small Business Administration (SBA) and of course the Hirshhorn Museum charge and work on building the Ruth Eckerd Hall Performing Arts Center.

FIGURE 4: Graduation Exercises May 1956, NYU MA Degree with family
FIGURE 4: Graduation Exercises May 1956, NYU MA Degree with family

My extended family of Father, Mother, sisters and brother were located mostly in New York City. My oldest sister Lucy stilled lived in Ontario, Canada which we visited periodically.  My brother Al lived near my folks in Brooklyn as well as my sisters Becky and Sophie; my sister Bella was relatively close by in Oceanside.


The following are excerpts from the application that I submitted June 4, 1956 through television show “Do You Trust Your Wife,” that would be hosted “Do You Trust Your Wife,” please See Appendix 5–1.**)

19 Lincrest Street

Hicksville, L.I., N.Y.

June 4, 1956

George Stephens

6357 Selma Avenue

Hollywood 28, California


Dear Sir:

Thank you for the opportunity to qualify as a contestant on “Do You Trust Your Wife”.

I think my wife and I would make good contestants because I modestly believe we are the ideal couple.  She is very understanding, logical, unselfish, wonderful disposition, clean and tidy, a good manager, and never takes second best.  She is so fastidious that one night, I got up for a drink of water and before I got back she had made the bed.  She has been the guiding force in my continuing my education.  It is coincidental with this letter that, after 20 years of evening college, I am attending commencement exercises on June 6, 1956 for my Master’s degree in Public Administration at New York University.  My two children, as well as my wife and our parents will attend.


The many jobs I have held have been interesting.  In 1943, while in service, I was selected as cadre for the advance echelon of the First Army Headquarters which was assembled in Bristol and London, England, where the invasion plans for D-Day were developed.

My leisure time, which I did not have much of between 1935 and 1953, is now spent gardening, reading and umpiring in the little league.  Being handy around the house, I also do carpentry work, painting, laying tile, etc.  I accomplish my work without a workbench or special tools, restricting myself to a saw, a hammer and a screwdriver.

My wife’s leisure time also increased, because she had to baby sit while I went to school.  But she is catching up since we moved into our new home 3 years ago.  Monday night is scrabble, Tuesday night is movies, Wednesday night is scrabble, and Thursday night is coffee klatch.  In between times, she is a den mother with the cub scouts, and attends P.T.A. meetings.



(1)    Our friends and neighbors all admit my wife and I are the most compatible people. On one occasion a neighbor tried to precipitate an argument just to see how we would act, but they didn’t succeed.  The closest we came to it was when I taught my wife how to drive the family car.  A friend warned us we wouldn’t be talking to each other, but we wouldn’t believe him.

(2)    Our boy, Billy is considered a real boy.  None of my neighbors have ever seen him walk – he always runs.  When he was 4 months old, the doctor said he was hypertensive.  He was 3 ½ pounds at birth, and it took two people to diaper him.  He is 10 years old and in the 5th grade.  He likes snakes, insects, and girls.

(3)    Bonnie Lynn is considered by the neighbors to be sweet and gentle.  Always has a big hello for all of them.  Her responsive reflexes are remarkable.  She is five and will start school in the fall.


My wife and I have had a desire to travel to Bermuda.  That has been one of our goals since we were married.  My secret ambition is to retrace the various places I have been to during the war, with my wife, so I could live the poignant moments when all my thoughts were of home.  I would go to the places like Bristol, Feltham and London in England; St. Lo, Fuererolles, and Paris, France; Charleroi and Liege, Belgium; Duren and Cologne, Germany.

There are many items that we need, but if we would win any money we would set it aside for Billy’s education to make sure he graduates college in less than 20 years.


My wife’s first name is Thelma.  I was born in Manhattan in 1917, and she was born in Brooklyn.  By coincident our families moved to Canarsie, Brooklyn.  We lived comparatively close to each other, but it was 13 years before I met Thelma, when a mutual friend arranged a blind date.  Even though she claims I disappointed her (her dream man was 6 ft. 4 in., etc.), she nevertheless learned to love me.  That was June 14, 1940, just 16 years ago.  I proposed in a sort of back handed way.  It was 1941 – tours to Miami were fantastically low ($59 including train fare and 7 days at a leading hotel).  I asked her how she would like a trip to Florida, she said she would, so I said marry me and we’ll go.  So she did, and we had a wonderful time.


An outstanding trait of my wife is that she treats everyone with the same respect and courtesy – no matter who they may be.  She gives them the same consideration, same service, and same personal attention.

Her talent is the ability to put a hat together in 5 minutes, before we are going out on a date.  She likes wide brimmed hats.  She also dabbles in oils and has not had a lesson in her life.  Her pictures are good enough to hang on our walls.

Our happiest moment was when we walked into our own home.  It’s the greatest step anyone can take.


We have never appeared on any other radio or TV show. Being a latitudinarian, there are no particularly great mistakes that we have made.  When my wife may be disappointed, I’ll say, “don’t worry, honey.   Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.”  In the game of life I believe myself quite fortunate in being a winner more than I have been a loser.

The turning point in my life was the G.I. Bill of Rights.  Even though I applied myself to obtaining an education prior to the war, I never would have continued without a helping hand from Uncle Sam.  This, combined with the encouragement and patience of my wife, has helped to advance my career.

It has been a pleasure preparing this brief history, and we look forward with as much pleasure to seeing your interviewers.

Very truly yours,

Joseph Sefekar


Figure # Ebbets Field, June 1956
Figure # Ebbets Field, June 1956

One of the things that I enjoyed doing most with my children besides their homework and lawn chores was going to the baseball game and following the Brooklyn Dodgers. The “Bums,” as they were affectionately called were a lovable bunch of baseball players such as Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax. Those were among the most popular Dodger players. they did however have to contend with the likes of the New York Yankees, “The Bronx Bombers,” and the New York Giants. I particularly remember two instances when I took them to the ballgame. The first instance was “camera day” and it allowed the fans get up close near the field. With my five-year-old Bonnie in her Brooklyn Dodgers paraphernalia she had her picture taken, with none other than the Brooklyn slugger, Duke Snider.

The next occurred when I took Billy to the baseball game shortly after my graduation at NYU in June of 1956. Sonny boy managed to wander off to get a better view of the action on the field. I honestly hadn’t realized until it was too late at it was better to get seats on the first base side than the third-base side where more of the “action” was. It was an eventful day and he and I were finally able to connect after my searching part of the game. Forty-five (45) years later I would discuss this in detail when I submitted an article, entitled “A Long Time Between Innings.” to the St. Petersburg Times (See Chapter 12, My Eighth Decade).

Figure 11 At Rockaway Beach and on Vacation
Figure 11 At Rockaway Beach and on Vacation

My career took a couple positive turns during this time.  Being on Long Island there was the opportunity to transfer from the Maritime Administration to Mitchell Air Base, named after the brilliant Air Force
Strategist, Billy Mitchell. It would be a contributing factor in my selecting my dissertation topic on Airpower and Manpower Utilization which received a letter of accommodation.

There were many vacations and trips with the children and my wife’s family to upstate New York cottages and bungalows especially in Lake Mahopac and Peekskill. On my side of the family we invariably spent a lot of time with mom and pop while they rented their place on Rockaway Beach for the summer months.


Figure 12 Vacationing War buddy, Irv Bagatelle and wife Lee with Thelma and me,
Figure 12 Vacationing War buddy, Irv Bagatelle and wife Lee with Thelma and me,


Copyright © 2016 William Sefekar

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Towards the end of 1952 but part of our fortunes seem to be looking up; as we embarked on a very ambitious undertaking. With a little help from my mother-in-law Bessie Abramson in the form of a loan and with prodding from my very dear friends Irv and Lee bagatelle. They had made the jump to Long Island just a short time ago when they purchased a home in one of the new suburban communities called Levittown on the “Island”.

We Began our house hunting based in nearness to city. First town was Jamaica. Real Estate prices were too high. Next choice was Hempstead. A little house there was still beyond our reach. My starting salary with the U.S. Gov’t was $ 1,400 – General Schedule (GS-2) by 1948 (with an intervening war) my salary was $ 6,000 (GS-5). The farther we found ourselves from the city, the cost became more reasonable for us.

City      Jamaica    $ 20,000

12 miles  Hempstead  $ 17,000

17 miles  Hicksville $ 14,290 (Hicksville’s Post Office upgraded to Syosset)

Our cousin Dave and Jerri Kules purchased in a development several blocks away for $18,000 they got a brick house. When the real estate agent calculated the monthly cost – it seemed doable. I asked him what about telephone and monthly commuting costs on the Long Island RR. He said that’s not considered essential.

Having made the decision to move to the burbs was quite an adjustment. “Happy Homeowner” was something that didn’t come naturally, it took a lot of hard work just like a marriage. We made a lot of nice friends and our neighbors were terrific it was an idyllic time. Our next-door neighbors Emily and Len Levine were very special. Thelma made some very close friends that followed her throughout the rest of her life.  As we found out later when we settled in our new home as I said with our full complement of family. We found out that was the natural progression. It turned out that most our neighbors had two children and predominantly the boy was the oldest followed by a daughter. Of the 12 families 6 on our side and 6 across the street, six families had two children a piece with the boy being the oldest. Then another set of 2 children with the daughter being the oldest. For the remaining five families, there were three sets of two children with two sets of boys and one set of girls and there were two families that had three boys each.

It was an exciting time no doubt with finding a new development which as I mentioned was called Country Village on the borderline between Hicksville and Syosset. We made our decision for the lot and all the fun things that go with selecting the different choices for kitchen and furnishings that come with its construction. We moved in March 1953 and were very happy in this lovely ‘bedroom community” until my promotion and transfer to Washington DC in October 1965; 12 ½ years later.

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FIGURE #1, Construction of our new home at 19 Lincrest Street in Syosset, L.I., New York


Figure #2, Getting ready


FIGURE #3, Moving in and settling down to our new home

There was so much to do, it was all so new with these kind of things. Picking out bedroom furniture for my wife and I, creating appropriate bedroom furnishings for my seven-year-old boy and a two-year-old little girl. That it was a fun time and we enjoyed it thoroughly we made so many wonderful friends that stayed with us throughout our lives. Our next-door neighbors were truly best neighbors, Emily and Len Levine and their two children Donnie and Melanie were so nice and we thoroughly enjoyed their company. This is not to say that we weren’t very blessed with other neighbors across the street and nearby.

Our children made friends very easily and they also established bonds to last a lifetime. Billy could be found playing stickball or football in the streets Bonnie made friends with three girls across the street Laurie Becker, Ilene Karph and Marilyn Geller were among her closest friends during the impressionable times.


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Figure #4, Settling in, life in Suburbia

When we arrived to Lincrest Street in August 1953, I brought my 1951 green Chevy purchased new. A few years later, my wife wanted to flex your sense of independence as this was certainly a big difference in taking buses and subways that she was accustomed to living in the city. So she cajoled me into letting her get a license which contradicted the first cardinal rule of keeping your marriage intact by a husband not giving his wife driving lessons. Learning on the standard shift is not easy and we had our rows. My daughter Bonnie about three or four at the time would be perched in the backseat while we underwent this traumatic experience of practicing Thelma’s attempt at shifting gears. This was getting to be very frustrating for all of us as the car lunged forward and back then stopped. Invariably I tried to keep cool and calm and collected but not always and in exasperation yell out neutral, neutral to get the car from bucking like a bucking bronco. This routine would bring Bonnie to the verge of tears as she cried out, “Mommy, mommy no neutral, no neutral.”



As the years progressed I managed to upgrade the 1951 green Chevy to a used 1960 red and white Oldsmobile 88, in 1964 that we purchased from my good friend Irv bagatelle. Meanwhile, I was very busy continuing on my graduate program at New York University (NYU). In addition to my work load, my family load and my keeping busy with Midway Jewish Center I had my hands full. But things seemed to fall into place. I would complete my dissertation on Manpower Administration which was published in the American Public Administration Quarterly and graduated in 1956. It was a great time and I became the 1st family member to obtain a graduate degree (reference Manpower Thesis and graduation picture**).

One of the highlights of the adjustment period was the link to our families. Guess the umbilical cord was severed but we made every effort to visit our families and mine and my wife’s brothers and sisters. At least once a month we would travel into Brooklyn to be with mom and pop and my mother’s mother. It was always wonderful gathering with our brothers and sisters and their families to get together for whatever occasion holiday or just to visit.

On one such visit in 1953 we were delayed in our travels by what appeared to be a funeral procession Brooklyn on Sunday afternoon. I realized that this was the funeral procession of what was determined to be two traitors, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg accused and convicted of giving secrets to the Russians for the building of an atomic bomb. It was a sad day especially for members of the Jewish community and myself. Being such a staunch believer in the values of the American democratic system and a lover of this country to have this befall as a black mark for our devoted brethren to our homeland was a tough pill to swallow.  We have in in our Judaic culture a Yiddish expression that captures this sentiment “it was a Shanda”, SHANDA: A shame, a scandal. The expression “a Shanda fur die goy” means to do something embarrassing to Jews where non-Jews can observe it. I tried to explain the basic undercurrents to my 7-year-old son of what was happening, as the funeral procession slowly passed by and we proceeded on our way to spend the day with our family. These are incidents that can shape even the littlest of minds. My worries were unfounded as my son grew with similar traits. A staunch supporter of our democratic government, working in national state and local elections. He is also patriotic, community oriented, flies American flags and buys only American cars, like his Dad.

The Syosset years were filled with fulfilling the American dream; coming into my own and seeing my family develop and flourish. My daughter Bonnie Lynn was two years old when we moved to Syosset. She was always so cute and precious and we loved her dearly. Billy on the other hand was perfecting to become his nonstop, rambunctious self, always seeming to find something to get his hands into.

Figure #5, Billy with his Pet Frog……turtles, “Black Widows”
Figure #5, Billy with his Pet Frog……turtles, “Black Widows”


Figure # 6 Picture of our Family Dining Room Set with table, chairs and armoire

Thelma was always making sure the house would be very presentable. We were able to purchase new furniture among which we still have is the Thomasville dining set with even an armoire. Hundreds and hundreds of great dinners and family gatherings proceeded us from Syosset, Maryland and then to Palm Harbor, Florida.


I became very active in the Temple or synagogue as we say. The Midway Jewish Center was a project with great vision for the influx of Jews that were migrating from the second Jerusalem, New York City. Prior to the formation and construction of Midway Jewish Center the fledgling Jewish population in keeping with the high holidays; celebrating of the Jewish new year Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur wasted little time in arranging to use the property on the corner of S. Oyster Bay Rd./Plainview Road. In addition to leasing this property for the holiday services they also secured a very large tent that held over 200 people. This tent lent itself to the impression of being little part of the desert, flat and sandy as the surrounding land for the shopping center that was going to be built the “Plainview Shopping Center” was being prepared for development. It made quite an impression as here we were in our new surroundings that symbolized what must been like for the Israelites to be in the desert and convening the great assembly with the high priests prevailing.


The founding fathers of Midway Jewish Center had the foresight to purchase a nice piece of property that was very close to our home, adjacent to Country Village development where we moved to. The land that was purchased was part of the bigger parcel that was sold to make for our development and adjacent developments was a potato farm. I can still remember my son being in Hog Heaven, pardon the reference with all the mounds of dirt and everything else that was part of the property. What made this so attractive was that the barn became our first sanctuary and the farmer’s brick house was very adaptable for housing administrative offices for the Rabbi, the Cantor and the Hebrew school. This became a focal point for a family’s spiritual needs during our stay in Syosset.

I didn’t however, relinquish entirely my responsibilities for overseeing the lawn and landscape. As a harbinger of spring I would oversee my estate make an assessment of what was needed to be done and faithfully traipse over to our next-door neighbor, Len to share with him, what he also needed to do. He would dutifully tell his wife Emily that Joe came over and we need to get started on fertilizing, seeding and pruning.

Life in suburbia had many amenities and in our newfound little neighborhood a wonderful set of new friends that we were very comfortable in socializing with. There were plenty of opportunities for picnicking at parks in the area as part of the various community events and activities.

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Figure #9 “The American Dream”

My extended family of Father, Mother, sisters and brother were located mostly in New York City. My oldest sister Lucy stilled lived in Ontario, Canada which we visited periodically.  My brother Al lived near my folks in Brooklyn as well as my sisters Becky and Sophie; my sister Bella was relatively close by in Oceanside.


Our next-door neighbor’s. Emily and Lenny Levine very close friends of our neighbors on the other side the house, Irwin and Helen Bloomfield. Across the street were Irene and Abe Becker. They had a daughter Laurie who became a lifelong friend with my daughter Bonnie and still visit regularly after these many years. They also had a son, Paul, who was a year younger than my son Billy.


An incident occurred a couple years after we moved to Lincrest Street that had a significant impact on how fragile we all know life is. What occurred was a deadly fire that raced through a warehouse office building in Manhattan. There was a hero who paid a dear price for making sure that lives were saved while his own was in peril. Abe Becker who owned the company on the floor above where the fire broke out managed to save a number of lives but still felt it necessary to make one more entry into the burning flames to make sure everyone was out. Unfortunately, Mr. Becker, the brave person that he was, was unable to find his way out to safety. It was a tragic end to a very fine young man, a loving husband and father. In spite of these tragic developments I can dutifully report that Irene remarried and the two children Laurie and Paul grew up to become very accomplished, successful and caring citizens with families of their own.

Life goes on and we regroup through the adversities. Next few years would bring a number of changes in career fortunes; the growth of my family and dealing with the normal exigencies that were faced. I inched closer to obtaining my Master’s degree and has high was finishing my dissertation which dealt with at Mitchell Air Force Base and the strategic air command. We embraced the lifestyle afforded us in Syosset and on Long Island that unfolded throughout this chapter and into the next.

Copyright © 2016      William Sefekar

** Material will appear in book.

We are always interested in hearing comments and suggestions about how the blog could be better. Sound off below with your ideas.