Faces of Long Island celebrates the uniqueness of everyday Long Islanders. In their own words, they tell us about their life experiences, challenges and triumphs. Newsday launched this social media journey into the human experience to shine a light on the diverse people of this wonderful place we call home.

‘I think talking about suburbia sort of fills a section of country music that you would call Americana.’

Bob Koenig, Levittown

“In the first grade, I saw ‘Yellow Submarine’ at the Calderone Theater in Hempstead, and that changed everything. I wanted anything and everything I could find on The Beatles. My dad loved love country music. The first concert I saw was Johnny Cash at the Garden in 1969. I started playing guitar as I got older. I began writing music and recorded my first song in 1983.

“I was an only child, so I think I found myself enjoying different things. I had to find ways to entertain myself. I have a big record collection. I have a comic book collection; I’ve always read comics. It’s just about finding things that inspire you.

“Throughout my college years, I was studying popular culture and local history. My thesis paper was on Levittown, where I now currently live. I got involved with the historical society. They still have the museum today. I worked my way up to vice president of the group. I also joined the Hicksville Historical Society because my grandfather had a farm on Newbridge Road. I also joined the Mineola Historical Society because that was my hometown.

“I thought, there’s books pertaining to the various towns and so forth, but there’s not music. How about teaching history through song? And even just to have music to be a soundtrack to the town. The idea went from one song to a whole album about Levittown. My wife sang on it, too. It was a special project. I’ve been able to perform the songs for schools and local celebrations.

“I think talking about suburbia sort of fills a section of country music that you would call Americana. It’s more the common person finding a place in suburbia.

“On my Levittown album, there’s a song called ‘Talking Suburban Veteran Blues.’ Levittown was originally a community for veterans after the war. The song follows the year in a life of a veteran who was coming home living in the city and needing someplace to go. Here, was the American dream being handed to them for a decent price on Long Island. There were no fences; everybody found themselves living together. The kids ran free. It was all very new and exciting.”

Being involved with your community really gives you a sense of being there.

“I have a lot of different meetings that I go to every month. I go to Mineola Historical Society. I have a board meeting and a general meetings with the Levittown Historical Society. And the Hicksville Historical Society has its own meeting. I’m also on the consistory with the Parkway Community Church in Hicksville. After retiring as a postal worker, I now also work as a teacher’s assistant, and I play guitar on Wednesday nights at a church in Williston Park.

“Being involved with your community really gives you a sense of being there. Most of the time, especially today, a lot of people are either at school or at work. They tend to find their homes as places to rest in between busy days, but I think if people are just more aware that there really are historical societies in their community and got involved, even if it’s just to come out and visit the museums, we could all become fully immersed in a sense of place.

“Every day you get up and you look around and think, this was potato fields and farms. And now there’s these homes here, and we’re all a part of the history now. Even though things have changed, a lot of houses have changed their size and shape, the towns still carry the same spirits.

“The Mineola Historical Society’s planning a great event this summer. They’re going to have a trolley bus that will take people around the town and show different sites. You’ll be able to see where the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway went through and where there were different hotels. So, you know, just trying to show some things of the past to get people a sense of what was there before.

“I have so many different passions. I’ve been published in RetroFan magazine and other books about various subjects. I’ve been featured in The New York Times. I was fortunate enough to be in a successful band, The Keys, from 1988 to 1994. I’ve experienced a lot throughout my life. I like the idea of teaching other people about things to get my interest across. and I find hope that sometimes people will enjoy the things I enjoy.”

Interviewed by Maggie Rose Melito