In 1990, Patrick and I bought a house in Williston Park. Patrick’s family lived on
Park Avenue in Williston Park and he had enjoyed his time growing up here. His
siblings would tell stories about life back in the day in Williston Park.
There was the bus that ran back and forth to the Williston Park Pool, summer theater plays
at St. Aidan’s, ball games at Kelleher Field and Boy and Girl Scouts. But all these
conversations always included riding bikes down Suicide Hill on William Street.
When we were looking for our home one of my “must have” was a front porch.
We had found our house, 133 William St., in the classified section of the
Williston Times. (My father in law, Jack Zwiebel, called and said he saw an ad for a
house in The Times.
I was quite shocked that a house in Williston Park would be
advertised in the New York Times. That was before I knew that in Williston Park
this was the Williston Park Times.)
Well, we saw the house, bought it and moved in 1990- without a porch but it was on the top of Suicide Hill. Since I did not grow
up in Williston Park, I was not so impressed with this big hill. But we thought
someday we would get the porch.
Life does fly by. We moved in with one daughter, Kelly, within a week of moving
to our new home, Colleen was born and 2 years later a third daughter, Emily,
So fast forward 15 or so years and we decided we now may have the
money to finally get that porch. We applied for a permit and a variance, but our
building permit was denied.
There was an old law on the Building codes of
Williston Park that stated porches were not permitted. Fast forward another 4
years and I made a presentation to the Board of Trustees (I felt like Arlo Guthrie in
Alice’s Restaurant Massacree with my presentation of 8 X 10 colored glossy
photographs) and a new law was passed that now permitted porches to be built
with code in Williston Park.
October 2016 I got my porch!
Fast forward to March 2020 and the home quarantine. The porch has been a
blessing. I can sit here for hours watching the countless number of people
walking by, stopping to chat and the bike riders. Suicide Hill is Back!
parents riding with young kids, groups of older kids who start at Collins Ave to get
speed up for the hill. There was a group of 6 men, 40-50 year olds, one night who
must have had the same memories the Zwiebel family had of Suicide Hill.
They were so excited acting like teenagers whooping and laughing. Although I didn’t
have my own memories of Suicide Hill, there are many young people who will
have those same memories from long ago.
The quarantine has been difficult for many reasons. I think it has reminded us
that family is important and maybe hanging with them is not so bad. It has
demonstrated that life can slow down and the simple things like taking walks and
bike riding can be fun. Many memories of these past few months will remain
including those new and old memories of riding bikes, scooters and skateboards
down Suicide Hill.
Heartwarming quotes heard from the porch:
• Dad on bike (trying hard to stay excited for his son’s sake) “okay… here it
is… be careful…don’t pedal to much…stay to the right”
• Girl on bike coming up the hill: “I just can’t do it, this hill is too big.” Mom
“yes you can keep on going!” My daughter, Emily, “try learning how to ride
a bike on that hill!”
• Mom and child (booking it down the hill): “too fast, too fast, too fast”
(heard down the hill… “okay that was fun”)
• Family riding up the hill, 2 biking and 1 running: “that actually wasn’t too
bad” (high fives all around)
• Father-daughter bike ride, excited daughter talking: “This is the hill I was
talking about. We went down it and it was so fun. But we couldn’t
remember where it was after the first time we
went down it. But this is it!”
Shout out to all the parents experiencing your children going down this hill for the
first time, way to let your kids be brave!
If you pass by my porch – say hello!
Mary Ann Zwiebel and Emily Zwiebel