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Prices Too High, We Won’t Buy: The 1969 Long Island Meat Boycott

As communities today struggle to recover from the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, let’s take a look at how one community on Long Island faced a financial crisis during the 1969 recession…

During the summer of 1969, the cost of living was soaring and meat was increasingly more expensive. Middle-class consuming families were choosing to buy cheaper cuts; while, many working-class families as well as senior citizens on fixed incomes were finding it impossible to afford even the cheapest cuts of meat like hamburger. Unwittingly following in the footsteps of thousands of housewives before them, two women in Levittown kicked off a consumer protest that gained national attention. 

 

Despite no prior political involvement and having just given birth to her second child that summer, Mickey DeLorenzo, a local housewife, and her sister, who recently moved to Nassau County, decided to call a boycott of meat. Placing an invitation in the local newspaper, Mickey called on families from her close-knit community to gather at the Levittown Hall, a community space in the town center. The room filled with families angered over the high cost of living. 

With no shopping centers in Levittown, 100 housewives gathered to picket the grocery store at the Hempstead Turnpike shopping center on August 12, 1969. They called themselves For Lower Prices (FLP). Handing out menus for “tasty fish dishes,” the women chanted, “Let the meat rot!,” and “Prices too high, we won’t buy!” 

 

Making this their first stop, the women split up and targeted three supermarkets in the shopping center (L.I. Housewives Stage Boycott on Meat Sales,” New York Times, Aug. 12, 1969.) With her two children including her newborn son in tow, Mickey organized pickets around Nassau County. The pickets enraged the supermarkets and FLP members were threatened with arrest on more than one occasion. By October, DeLorenzo estimated that 1,500 housewives on Long Island were actively participating in the boycott activities (“An Angry Wife Warns of High Meat Costs,” Chicago Tribune, Oct. 8, 1969.)

 

The boycott generated significant media coverage beyond the greater New York area. Within a month of organizing their first picket, FLP members were putting together FLP Kits, starter packets to help other communities organize a meat boycott. With no national coordination, meat boycotts sprung up in Virginia, Connecticut, Colorado, and Florida (“Meat Boycott Leader Criticizes House Panel,” Los Angeles Times, Oct. 8, 1969.)  

I am professor at the University of Illinois writing a book on the history of housewives and consumer activism. If you are one of these women or know women who participated in the 1969 meat boycott or any other meat boycott between 1966-1973, I would very much like to interview you. I will be conducting interviews over the phone and in person throughout the coming months. I can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or at 312-413-0166.

 

—Prof. Emily E. LB. Twarog, University of Illinois


News

After spotting an abandoned cemetery at the corner of Grant Avenue and Rose Street in the heart of downtown Farmingdale, resident Vicki Gruber became inspired to trace the lineage of the Van Cott family—some of the earliest settlers in the Farmingdale community. Gruber, a corporate and securities attorney, said that after approaching the village about the history of the cemetery, she took it upon herself to do the research. Compiling three or four years worth of newfound information, Gruber discovered that each of the 16 plots in the cemetery are direct descendants of Claes Cornelissen Van Cats, a Dutch settler and firm believer in democracy, home rule and civil liberty. 

Farmingdale village officials will be holding a public hearing on Dec. 1, to reexamine school speed zones throughout the village, in order to establish a consistent school speed zone limit. 


Sports

At a special “wrap up “ meeting for the 2014 Marcum Workplace Challenge, Greater Long Island Running Club Vice President and Event Director Mindy Davidson of Farmingdale, presented a special plaque to Winsome Foulkes, team captain of the Farmingdale-based Telephonics Corporation.  Winsome is retiring from Telephonics after a long and successful career and has led the Telephonics Corporation in the Marcum Workplace Challenge since its inception.  

There is simply no better way for runners and their families to celebrate the Holiday Season than by being part of the fun at the Carter, DeLuca, Farrell & Schmidt Holiday 5 Kilometer Run, and on Saturday morning, Dec. 20, the Run will be celebrating its 27th anniversary edition at the John F. Kennedy Middle School in Bethpage. The run will start at 9:30 a.m. on Broadway in Bethpage.


Calendar

Les Miserables - November 21

The Wedding Singer - November 21

Holiday Parade - November 22


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com