Our neighborhoods and the government

This was left as a comment over on the E3 gazette (a spinoff from Bill Whittle's Eject! Eject! Eject! website) and it was so good that it was promoted to an entry of its own.

I grew up spending my summers in the Polish ghetto of Chester, Pennsylvania. I use the word "ghetto" in the sense that neighborhoods were strictly segregated. The Poles held the area of Front St. throught 4th Street. Beyond that other immigrant groups had staked out their claims. It was never clear to me why I had to stay away from Irish and Italian neighborhoods. In my child's mind's eye my mental map said simply "there be monsters." My little enclave was a safe and secure place to grow up.

The Polish people of that generation, first and second, were known as the working poor. My grandfather quit school at age twelve when his father died. The custom was to keep a factory seat open for the next in line, that being the only social security on offer. My grandfather became the family bread-winner. Somehow the family survived the Great Depression if only barely. Then came the war. The neighborhood sent its young men off to fight. Some did not return, but the neighborhood survived.

My grandparents owned a modest rowhouse on the 100 block of Thurlow St. Some people called it the wrong side of the tracks. Actually, we were on the tracks. We used to shoot cans off the rails with a BB gun from the neighbor's porch. I guess to the older folks it seemed far safer than the old habit of sending young boys clambering up the side of moving coal cars to rob them of the precious fuel that would keep a family warm for the day. Despite our "poverty" the neighborhood was thriving.

The center of our lives was St. Hedwig's Church, a majestic structure with stain glass windows stretching to a vaulted ceiling. The congregation was large enough to require five masses on Sunday. Piety was our chief virtue, except for Joe Schpok and Handsome Harry. But those two were excused because Joe was a bum, and Harry was mad. Joe lived in an abandoned car and earned his livelihood doing odd jobs. Harry owned a rowhouse next to my aunt. I guess he was harmless, but his sudden appearance sent our mob scurrying for cover. The neighborhood monster was tall and oily with fingernails an inch long. When he got sick, the local women would bring him food and medicine. Same for Joe. The community looked after its own.

And then the government shows up...

Read the rest for an understanding of why government management is not a good thing.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on November 9, 2008 12:42 PM.

R.I.P. - Big Blue was the previous entry in this blog.

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