Our brains are such incredible processors. The average human brain can produce as many as 12,000 to 50,000 thoughts per day, according to the National Science Foundation. While many of those thoughts can be related to a mistake we dwell upon or a worry related to past or future events, those thoughts that relate to our happy memories are probably the most enjoyable. According to research from the Salk Institute, the human brain can hold 10 times more memories than previously believed. That is equivalent to about 20,000,000 four-drawer file cabinets filled with text. That’s a lot of detail for an eight-pound organ to hold.
One of my favorite memories from childhood was the ride home to Levittown from my pediatrician’s office in Plainview. Dr. Neil M. Palladino’s office stood on the corner of Stauber Drive and Old Country Road and smelled of antiseptic. My sister and I disliked the visit, mostly because of uncomfortable immunizations and finger sticks for hemoglobin and hematocrit. Mom and Dad always made certain that something fun was planned for after the yearly physical, like a trip to Wetson’s or a weekend away. The visit always filled us with dread, but Mom and Dad were sure to have that “spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down in the most delightful way.” It was a practice I continued when my daughter was a child.
On our way home, we often cut through Hicksville and drove down Jerusalem Avenue, for Dad was the “king of the shortcut.” We often passed what my sister and I referred to as “The Big Fish”. We were too young to understand that the mosaic we saw on the side of what had once been “Meadowbrook Bank” was a beautifully tiled creation of Long Island. Bright blue waters surrounded a beige “fish.” It was one of my favorite memories of trips through Hicksville, along with some of the neon signs that lit Broadway in the evening.
A wonderful site on Facebook that posts pictures of Hicksville past and present is known as the “You Know You’re from Hicksville” fan page. The mosaic appeared in one such post, which piqued my curiosity. More than 150 Hicksville residents commented on the lovely mosaic which is presently in sad need of repair. A discussion began, where residents reminisced about the history of the site. One resident, who had moved to Hicksville in the late 1950s, stated that Meadowbrook Bank had occupied the lot since he’d moved in. Another resident mentioned that prior to the bank’s existence, the lot was home to the Dutch Reformed Church. Another mentioned that the mosaic of Long Island had previously been a Native American. It was quite interesting to hear that so many residents truly loved the artwork and had hoped for its restoration, myself included.
During the discussion, one resident mentioned that perhaps the mosaic could be adopted by the Hicksville High School art department as a project for students. It was an interesting thought, especially since it would be something that could bring the community together creatively.
I’m very interested in the history of this mosaic. I did a little research online but was unable to find anything outside of the Meadowbrook Bank Building in Freeport, which is an art deco-styled building that was sold in 2017 to a Woodbury-based real estate investment group for more than $6 million. Therefore, I turn to you, the readers, so that we can piece together this story. What did the old mosaic look like? When was the Meadowbrook Bank officially built? Who created the mosaic?
The mosaic, which can be found on the Bank of America building on Jerusalem Avenue, is a landmark that seems to have a place in the heart of everyone who lives here. It’s a beautiful piece of memorabilia that deserves to be preserved for generations to come. If there’s a way that our community can get together and make that happen, I would be one of the first to assist with the replacement of new tiles. Perhaps one day, another child could see the “picture of The Big Fish” and retain it in the synapses of their brains for years to come.
Patty Servidio is an Anton Media Group columnist.