Levittown is the embodiment of the American Dream for S. David Marable. As more than 60 people listened to him discuss Levittown’s history, a clear passion for his community shone past any of the details.
Marable, dubbed the “Levittown Historian”by J.D. Mullane, began his collection young. It started as a photograph here or there. It grew to 400 negatives of every event at the Levittown Shopping Center. Then, to small objects and even benches he nicked from work sites. Marable has stones from the original Levittown Train Station lining his garden, courtesy of SEPTA.
As a young boy, Marable rode his bike through Levittown when his family moved to the area in 1952. Now, he helps one generation remember and another generation learn. He hopes new signs being placed throughout the sections reading “Historic Levittown” will spur today’s youth to read about their community’s history.
When Marable asked around the room, the vast majority of attendees detailed their Levittown roots. But incredibly, most had moved to the area in the 1950’s or early 60’s.
“Colbat Ridge,” “Elderberry,” “Stony Brook,” they said. One man was a roofer on the original homes, another woman had her original red book.
Marable played a short video filmed on 8 mm film of Levittown using old family footage. Huge parades with Mrs. Levittown and Miss Levitteen rolled past the camera lens. People smiled and whispered to each other about old memories.
Then, as an old film produced by the Levitt family played, viewers sang along to instrumental versions of classics like King of the Road by Roger Miller.
The Levitt-produced video gave an incredibly detailed window into life during the 1950’s. As a 60 acre vibrant heart of a community, the Levittown Shopping Center was the center of life.The film showed pet shows with 150 entrees, talent shows for children, and a parking lot full of Ford vehicles.
It also placed emphasis on the other scenes from day to day life, including the packed five swimming pools on hot summer days. On the day Walt Disney came to visit, the sixth grade class president Colin Cue got to wave at the crowd with him.
Still other details could not make it onto film. Marable outlined the entire Levittown plan on a map, showing the depiction of an eagle. Another overhead map showed the name “Levitt” forever inscribed on the roadways.
“They enjoyed being able to reflect back to their old days when life seemed simpler, people seemed to be a little happier,” Marable said after everyone had left.