Bridgeport, Connecticut

No matter! Since entertainment for the rest of us meant sitting huddled around a TV screen and watching the blurred face of Lucy, I still approved of these culture vultures with their Henry Kissinger-like accents.

At the low end of the heap were the mostly impoverished Puerto Ricans, who arrived in the 1950s. These immigrants contributed significantly to the Bridgeport crime rate. Since in those antediluvian times not even commies had discovered diversity’s blessings, there was little need for the rest of us, particularly our parents, to feign delight about the invasion.

Blacks were a negligible factor and since they constituted a mostly invisible minority in Bridgeport until the 1960s, I never bothered to rank them socially. If I were forced to assign them a ranking, blacks would have placed higher than Puerto Ricans but considerably lower than the vast middle range which included everyone else.

Those in the middle of the unofficial social order as seen through my adolescent eyes worked mostly in small businesses or factories. They were Catholic, Jewish, or Eastern Orthodox. Despite their overlap in not being very interesting or offensive, these middling groups took care to differentiate themselves from each other. Irish and Italians would not hang out together if they could help it, and neither had much use for Hunkies or Polacks. Hungarian Jews lived in Hunkietown on Bridgeport’s west end, while Polish and Russian Jews lived on the east side with the Catholic Slavic population. Intermarriage among Jews consisted of Jews from the east side wedding those from the west side, a scandal that parents naturally tried to avoid.

I bring up these memories to discredit those black activists on college campuses who complain that “€œall whites ever did was beat up on our race.”€ The reality in Bridgeport would hurt minority pride even more deeply. We simply didn”€™t pay attention in our daily lives to those who later became officially aggrieved victims. Whites happily discriminated among each other, and insensitivity reigned supreme without the government stepping in to lump us all together.

 



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