An Interview with Dionne Levine

Dionne Levine grew up in the city and moved to East Moriches in 1956. She has lived in East Moriches and Center Moriches for over 50 years. She taught in the Center Moriches Schools and owned the Bailstone Flower Shoppe and raised her children in East Moriches from 1956-1980.

During the 1960's or 1970's there were many problems that arose. There was an East Moriches arsonist that set fire to the East Moriches School, Fire House, and a couple of other public buildings. Racial problems also arose as people moved in from NewYork City.

Many stores have changed since 1956. There was a big hotel in the fire department parking lot and there were three meat markets. Security National Bank was the only bank in the East Moriches and Center Moriches area. There were three little drug stores one had a soda fountain. Grades Kindergarten thru twelve were all taught in what is now the Clayton Huey Elementary School. Across from the Elementary School there was a newly built Woolworth’s. The Dairy Barn was a house and Jonsey's Hardware Store was called Dener's Hardware Store. The owner, Mrs. Dener, rescued animals. Anyone could bring an animal to the hardware store and she would take care of it or find it a new home. The Center Moriches Schools district office building was a doctor’s office. There was also a Butcher Store on the corner of Canal Street. Across the street from the Flower Shoppe there was a Danish pastry shop, owned by a Danish man named Mr. Christiansen. The pastry shop was famous; people would come all the way from New York City just to get pastries. There was also a Sunoco gas station across from the Flower Shoppe. Candy cost one penny and was frequently stolen. For fun kids would go swimming in the millpond during the summer and ice skate on that same pond in the wintertime.

After 20 years of business, the original owners Mr. and Mrs. Stone sold the Bailstone Flower Shoppe to Dionne and her then husband Norman Goldstein. The Bailstone Flower Shoppe got its name by combining Mrs. Stone’s maiden name (Bailey) with their last name (Stone). It was open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, and was the only flower shop that could be reached by phone at anytime because the phone number for the shop was also Dionne’s home phone number. During the holidays the Flower Shoppe sold Christmas trees, and wreaths. There were three full time employees and four delivery boys. The workers received $3.50 an hour in the beginning. Later they would receive up to $7.00 an hour. There was a bonus during the holidays. A dozen carnations cost $3.00. The F.T.D which was the Florist Telegraph Delivery Service was used often during the 1970's. When you called for a delivery, the order could be broadcasted to anywhere in the country. The Flower Shoppe was very successful. The local people, churches, and people from Eastport, Mastic, and Shirley came to buy flowers. "It was certainly the best place to start a business. I miss the Flower Shoppe but I do not regret giving it up," Dionne said. She sold it because she got divorced and could not keep it going by herself.

She also contributed to many community organizations. She started the PTA in East Moriches with three other ladies. She donated $500.00 to the school for library books and she was responsible for the playground equipment being installed at the school.

~Written by Melissa G.

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