Storm clouds loomed over B.K. Sweeney’s in Bethpage where first time author John Logerfo was holding his book launch for Bethpage: Images of America, a historical tribute to his hometown.
The event had a large turnout, including the Central Park Historical Society’s Leonard Mulqueen, Ann and Bob Albertson and many others. Visitors purchased several books and bestowed high praise on the author.
“I think this book is terrific,” said Mulqueen. “He worked very hard on it, putting a lot of time and effort into it. He did a great job.” Ann Albertson concurred. “When John approached us about writing a book about Bethpage I thought it was a wonderful idea. I am glad he picked it up and decided to run with it. It’s kind of embarrassing to not see a book on Bethpage. John is a very special man and I am happy he has this success. He worked very hard and with no other motive than to get the history out.”
Logerfo credits the historical society in his book.
“There wouldn’t be a book if it wasn’t for these wonderful people,” said Logerfo. “I got to see what goes into preserving artifacts and I got to see the countless hours they spend doing it. They may be proud of me, but I am really proud of them. They really are truly saving the history of the town. Without their efforts I don’t know where the book would have wound up. I feel blessed to have seen photos and artifacts that not too many people get to see.”
Logerfo started the book a year ago. He is a graphic designer and works in County Executive Ed Mangano’s office in the communications department.
“I am a creative individual and I was looking for a new project,” he said. “I went to Arcadia publishing and was surprised to see that there wasn’t a book on Bethpage. That started this journey.”
His biggest obstacle was obtaining photos the publisher would deem worthy of publishing. Logerfo had access to an archive in Nassau County that had 90 photos, but 88 were rejected by Arcadia.
“That made it far more difficult and a challenge,” he said. “Cameras were a luxury for many people. When people took photos they were of important family gatherings, not so much of the town, so you don’t have pictures of the town evolving and changing before your eyes. Most of those things are missing.”
One of the most helpful sources was Merrill Zorn, whose family had been in the poultry business for 75 years with the Bethpage stalwart Zorn’s.
“Talk about a very generous individual,” said Logerfo of Zorn. “I never met her and she doesn’t know me, yet she shared photos and private stories with me. When I received the material from her, there were interesting historical photos and stories that I made it a chapter all its own.”
Zorn didn’t know her restaurant had a dedicated chapter to it until she arrived that night. She was thrilled to see the photos in the book and helped promote the book by doling out discount coupons to Zorn’s.
Zorn smiled broadly as she looked at pictures of her family home.
“I am so excited. I can’t wait to read this,” she said. “I think this is fantastic. The house is gone, but 75 years later our business is still here. John worked so hard on this book. We must have had at least 20 phone calls.”
B.K. Sweeney’s management moved Logerfo to a back room and then a steady stream of people filed in over the next three hours. Close to 200 people of all ages showed up to buy the book and congratulate Logerfo. Friends from high school, work and the neighborhood showed up hugging and kissing the author. Logerfo was given a citation from the county for his work by Doreen Pennica on behalf of Ed Mangano.
“It’s a place you just come home to,” she said. “It took John writing this book to get us all together. I haven’t seen some of these people in years.”
In The Wizard of Oz, there is the famous line: “A heart is not judged by how much you love but how much you are loved by others.” That was clearly evident as people praised the type of person Logerfo is and how much he means to the community.
Then Merrill Zorn came back from outside and said, “You have to look at the sky.” The streets were glistening from the rain, but over B.K. Sweeney’s, which was filled with old friends reminiscing about their hometown, a rainbow arched overhead. Cue Judy Garland, there is no place like home.