East Williston in the 1920's

Submitted by Jean Koistinen


The 1920's were a period of prosperity, optimism, growth and change. As the decade began, East Williston was a semi-rural community with the residents of its 75 homes employed locally or as civil servants in nearby Mineola, the County seat. Home life was influenced by the proximity of the wage earner to his employment, as it was customary to return home for a noon-time meal. Women did not work, as household chores and cooking were a full-time responsibility.


The tranquility of the early 20's was impacted by fast-moving national and world events. The 19th Constitutional Amendment gave women the vote, tunable radios could accompany housework, cars were affordable, ancient ruins in Egypt and Mexico could be viewed at movies, and air travel could be envisioned for the future - a restlessness was replacing tranquility.


At the same time, the Village began to expand. School Street and William Street were cut through and developed. Residents brought a new custom to the Village. They were 'commuters' who brought new life styles. No more noon-time dinners, as the dinner hour was determined by the arrival of the 6: 19 train. Women could plan afternoon teas with their friends, and the family car was available for shopping trips. Men who had been in the City all week looked forward to the Sunday drive as a replacement of the Sunday nap.

Children from Kindergarten to 8th grade walked to school, walked home for lunch and back for afternoon classes. The one school bus accommodated children from the Old Westbury estates whose parents were gardeners, cooks or chauffeurs. A small lunchroom at school was available for them, but not for local children.


Every household had a dog and, as there were no leash laws, they roamed freely. Tipp, Curly, Rebel, Laddie and To-Jo were as well known at one home as another, where an extra bone or tidbit could be shared. A welcome addition to the community was the arrival of "Doc" Martin, a veterinarian, who moved into the old Pine residence on Main Street (now called East Williston Avenue). The barn was his clinic, where he cared for sick pets or boarded well ones. As there was no Health Dept., he was called upon to placard homes with contagious disease and enforce observance of a quarantine so no one went either in or out.