BY PETER STASINSKI
Nestled in the residential area north of Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown, occupying a portion of land adjacent to the old right of way of the bygone Central Railroad on Hickory Lane, sits the building that houses the Veterans of Foreign Wars Levittown-Island Trees Post 9592. This is its story.
As the Veterans of World War II took advantage of the new affordable homes built by developer William Levitt and moved into what was then known as Island Trees, a few of them got together to form a VFW Post. Within seven months of the first occupation of a Levitt house, Post 9592 received its charter. April 24, 1948, was the date that the post was formed and began its journey.
As with any organization in its infancy, VFW Post 9592 dealt with growing pains. Simple things like where to meet, when to meet and who would fill the officer positions were challenges that needed to be met, especially with Island Trees still under construction and many of the Post members busy working and raising families post-war. However, thanks to the tenacity and “can do” spirit of its members, the challenges were met and the post began to grow.
A fantastic break came to the members in the early 1950s, when Levitt donated the land located on the north side of Hickory Lane and east of Strawberry Lane to the VFW. This gave the members of the post a place to construct their own building for meetings and socializing.
During the 1950s and 1960s, the members voted to change the name of the post to its current name, to reflect the name change of the town. They also attempted to start construction on the new post building.
Permits were secured through the Town of Hempstead and fundraising began. Unfortunately, the members would only get as far as constructing a foundation and basement before the construction would come to a halt. The foundation and basement still sits under the current parking lot today.
In 1962, 14 years after the post was formed, the members got their next big break. It would come with the donation to the post of a 1951 ranch-style Levitt home. This house, once a model home—later the office of Action Real Estate—was sitting on the south side of Hempstead Turnpike at Division Avenue. All that had to be done was to move it north to Hickory Lane. Under the leadership of Post Commander John P. Kilbride and the expertise of Rule Construction, the building was picked up and moved to the site where the it currently stands.
Immediately upon setting the building on its new foundation, the members of the post got to work.
They constructed a place that could be called home where they, and the new veterans from the Korean War and ones who were sent to Southeast Asia, could meet and socialize.
Construction and improvements would continue into the 21st century. As the needs of the members changed, so would the post.
Today, as one enters the interior of the building, besides the many articles of post and military history that hang on the walls or fill the display cases, the biggest piece of history visitors will encounter is the discernible footprint of the 1951 Levitt ranch house, which is the very foundation of the post building. Within this area, it is fitting that one will also find the list of the names of the veterans who were the foundation of the post.
Although the building has changed and the veterans of yesteryear have been relieved by the veterans of today, the purpose, mission and vision of VFW Post 9592 is the same today as it was in 1948, which is “to serve our veterans, our military and our community.”
For more information about VFW Post 9592 or how to become a member, visit www.vfw9592.org or call 516-579-4420.
—Peter Stasinski is the senior vice commander of VFW Post 9592.