- My Story -
Growing Up on Leard Road in New Hartford in the 1960's
By Rick Giffune
Rick's father in front of their new home
A block "U" shaped neighborhood encompassed by the Yahanundasis Golf Course on Seneca Turnpike and the old Levitt Farm (now Sangertown Mall). Once part of the old Levitt Farm, after World War II, it became one of the new "baby Boomers" neighborhoods. There were a few houses with stucco and wooden siding, but mostly aluminum siding.
As a re-payment for our Veteran's winning that horrible war, if they could come up with $500.00, Uncle Sam guaranteed them a mortgage. My father meeting the requirements somehow kept $500.00 from my mother and on the Fourth of July weekend 1962, we said good-bye to West Utica and Hello to New Hartford.
The new neighborhood was a playground of adventure with 2.3 kids per American
household. The activities were endless from building forts in the "Fields" to playing baseball on the practice course.
One of the main past times after supper was getting chased by the Jeep on the Golf Course. It was some kind of game to the maintenance men, because every night they chased us off, and every night we came back.
Some of the new friends I made, showed me the ropes of things to do, such as stealing cucumbers out of gardens, watermelons from Cary's Market and cigarettes out of the Golf Carts. At this time, New Hartford had two movie theaters, one outdoor drive in and the Aurora Bowling Alley, countless sports to play such as little league, pop warner and various leagues at the schools.
New Hartford Shopping Center was a world in itself. The downtown shopping era was coming to an end. And mothers now drove cars and could shop at the outskirts of the city rather than rely on bus transportation. As a teenager, we hung around the New Hartford Shopping Center because the girls from Utica rode up on the bus, and we could call them names. I consider myself very lucky to have grown up in this time frame and neighborhood. The friendships and memories I made are everlasting. Although most of the original families are gone, I still on occasion drive through that old neighborhood and if I listen real hard, I can still hear the shouts of the Old Gang up to some mischief.
Playing Hockey on the site where Sangertown Square is located today