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Old 12-01-2010, 08:13 AM
 
8,752 posts, read 9,214,497 times
Reputation: 4168
I think it's way past treated unfairly. We have one group that weren't even considered human beings, and the other group was treated unfairly. Can you guess which fit in which category? Life is unfair...I get that...but I have a problem with rewriting history and/or alleging something to be true when it isn't. But this thread is off topic thanks to RevisionistHistoryIrish.

To get back on point, you would be surprised how not decayed much of the Southern Bronx is. In Spring I would like to take some pics so people can see what is, and isn't, the Southern Bronx in 2010 (or rather 2011!).
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:38 AM
 
6 posts, read 10,975 times
Reputation: 19
Default SadIrish Comments

[SIZE=3]First off SoBro, thanks for your candor. I see I have angered you and for that I am sorry. Believe me; I have lived with a lot of people of color, in other countries, and on other continents. I have also lived in the US South quite a bit, in states such as Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Florida, etc. Sadly, there is still a sense of real discrimination, but over the last 30 years it’s getting weaker and weaker. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3]A polite society is polite no matter the color of the skin, fold of the eyes, religion or ethnicity. In the most simple of terms, my neighborhood was more polite in the late 1960s and early 1970s then now. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3]What is polite or polite people? Well in the context of my “Norwood” they are people who honor the old, those who respect the rights of others, their property, their safety; those who understand that they are part of a larger community with standards of decorum and that they should not do as they please simply because they can (like not playing the stereo at 110 decibels at midnight with the windows open on your fire escape in July), are the folks that look out for their neighbors (for instance we used to carry senior citizens groceries up the stair to help them out (remember those collapsible aluminum pull carts?)—and if we did not, my parents would sure let us know it! In my case, it was my Irish immigrant Mother’s wooden spoon and for my Dad his belt that reinforced proper pro social behavior. Simply, it’s self respect and community respect.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=3] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3]The mothers in our neighborhood would ‘narc’ you out if you were doing something wrong on the street (it seemed like at least one of them was always watching out the window, arms propped on a pillow) or spied you doing something you were not supposed to do—thereby extending the range of your parents own eyes and ears—I resented it then (I did like to be a tad mischievous but never criminal) but am thankful for it now. In the “Clinton vernacular,” it does take a village. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3]The fathers in our neighborhood watched us play stickball after work, coached little league, served as mentors in the local scout troop and candidly, also spent a fair amount of time on leather stools dipping their thirsty blue collar mouths into glasses of Rheingold or Shaffer’s beer at local beer joints with storied names like the Black Thorn, the Killarney Irish Rose, Gorman’s Pub, etc. at the first excuse -- especially if there was a hotly contested baseball game on the TV over the bar. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3]It was not like Ozzie and Harriet or June and Ward lived on our block; we had our fair share of dysfunctional families and problems, but you could sit out on the stoop at midnight or later and never worry if there was going to be a shooting, a mugging, a drive by, somebody breaking into your car (please note that seemingly all cars in our neighborhood were used, no one I knew owned a new car) or had to fear that a group of thugs would jump you or worse yet, harm your kids. I am not making this up, it was really that way. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3]I did not posit my initial comments from a lack of historical facts, rather it was just some angst and anger that tumbled out when I think of how my neighborhood looks today (well last year) in contrast the memories of yesteryear. Seeing closed stores where there were once German bakeries, A&P supermarkets, diners, etc. gone and graffiti everywhere and Prostitutes walking the street was awful. What was once vibrant was now on life support.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=3] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3]I know a lot of Irish history, indeed I traveled back to the cottage (thatched roof still on it) my Mom and eleven of her siblings were born and raised in. It was small, only a turf fire to warm it and one gas lantern for light at night. For Christmas, they got an orange, or a small toy like a wooden carved car or horse. It was a tough life, so when they were teens, they left the farm and Ireland. Half came to the States, the other half to the UK. In my Mom’s case, she left at 16 and worked in the lower east side garment district. Her highest completed grade level was 6th grade. But she loved to read (Harlequin romances of all things) but importantly passed it on to us five kids. Dad never finished High School, dropping out to go to work to help with household expenses after his Dad died when he was a young teen. We did not have a lot as kids (yes, we all wore a lot of hand me downs and resented it) and did not have a working TV for years (in retrospect probably a very good thing). But there was always love AND discipline in the house—and that made all the difference. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3]Ireland was cursed by being next to England. I am sure you have seen or read the term that the Irish were referred as the “******s of Europe” by many in the US and Europe during the 19th and 20th century, (tying into your comment about substituting Irish for Black.) Employment signs in NY and Boston proclaimed “No Irish Need Apply” etc. Like almost all immigrant groups coming to the US, they too suffered discrimination and abuse. Every ethnic group lived in a ghetto. But given that this is America, the majority of them moved up (and often out) given our then economic and social system that fostered self empowerment and improvement if you were willing to work your butt off in the marketplace and in school. Free public education—what a concept! I don't use the N word to be ugly, just relating what was actually said in the past.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=3] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3]To say the Irish were brutalized by the English would be an understatement. England’s Lord Protector Cromwell stole Irish land, displaced tens of thousands of Irish, killed many, made English the official language—destroying a millennium of Gaelic oral traditions and speech, made the Protestant Church of England the official church of Ireland and taxed the Irish Catholics to pay for it, and overall heavily taxed the poorest of the Irish while exempting themselves. It was like France before the French Revolution of 1789. For the English overlords -- in the merry words of Mel Brooks in History of the World Part 1, “it’s good to be the King.” [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3]The English even cut down the great forests of Ireland to build the increasingly powerful English Navy that became their “walls of oak” in future conflicts. When the great Potato Famine hit Ireland in the late 1840s, the main food stable (the humble potato that was native to South America which fortunately thrived in the poor soil of Ireland) the Irish peasant depended on for 90% of his/her diet literally rotted to black mush in days. The potato virus was an awful agricultural pandemic in Ireland. A good book about it is “The Great Hunger” by Cecil Woodhull-Smith (sp?).[/SIZE]
[SIZE=3] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3]The English, in their kindness, did not help in any way, indeed they refused to sell additional food to the starving Irish and incredibly cut back on food exports to the famished island. It was a horrible place and situation to be—prompting many Irish to flee to America for both food and freedom. If you have ever read “Gulliver’s Travels” you may recognize the author as Jonathan Swift. He also wrote a satirical piece concerning the Irish famine called, “A Modest Proposal,” in which he proposed that the “Irish problem” could be solved by cannibalism. Or by selling “Irish meat” in English markets. Nice. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3]In a general sense, the Irish in NY/Boston/Philadelphia used the ladder of municipal employment—for a while it was like every cop and fireman in NY was named Pat or Mike. Or they worked on Subways or Els, or drove a bus. In essence, it was Tammany Hall writ large. Many others went into business and after several decades, established themselves just as successfully as the WASPS before them. Anti-Catholic prejudice was severe in our country. The KKK in the US south saw Catholics as the second target of choice after Afro-Americans. Nathan Bedford Forrest was no friend of the Irish.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=3] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3]Many newly arrived Irish were caught up (or caused) the draft riots in NY during the Civil War. Rich WASPS paid to have poor Irishmen take their place in the Union Army in the quest to save the Republic and banish slavery. This was a horrible practice. But know this, the Irish were great fighters (like the 369th Infantry Regiment that earned the nick name “the Hell fighters from Harlem” in WWI France) and they fought with tenacity. As an example, during the battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862 the Irish Brigade marched into a well designed Confederate artillery and rifle fire gauntlet. Stonewall Jackson, on Marye’s Heights over looking the battlefield, boasted that not even a chicken could walk across it unscathed. When ordered to advance, the Irish regiment marched against their Confederate objective—the covered way/stone wall at the base of the hill, all the while receiving brutal cannon and rife fire, stepping over their own dead and wounded, but nonetheless kept going forward. Very moved, General Robert E. Lee said watching them march forward in the face of devastating fire said, “those are the bravest men I have ever seen.” A great image of this is artist Don Troiani’s “Faugh-a-Ballah” or clear the way.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=3] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3]In an other for instance, the Jews who worked in the lower east side ‘mini-migrated’ to the Bronx to get out of Manhattan so their kids could see the sky, play in parks, and have more space (the Bronx has the most number of acres in parkland of all the boroughs). Many settled on the Grand Concourse—if you had an address on the “American Avenue des Champs-Élysées” then you knew you had arrived. Many of those Jews had escaped pogroms and raw discrimination in Europe and Russia, and most came to the US penniless. And look what happened. With the reality of religious freedom, economic opportunity, and an American culture that allowed people to take advantage of social mobility, many Jews rose to prominence and prosperity. Yes, their road too was paved with potholes filled with anti-Semitism and violence, yet they made it and could worship without fear. Strangely, many of them were also closet or open Socialists. They may have inadvertently also planted the seeds that helped to contribute to the Bronx’s demise decades later.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=3] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3]I do take some umbrage with your comments on what I wrote about the Nazi concentration camp survivors who lined the streets of Norwood (and other parts of the Bronx) being targeted by minority criminals in the late 1970s and 80s. Have you been to Germany and gone to Dachau? Or Bergen Beslen? I have. Have you ever read Anne Frank’s Diary? The Holocaust survivors literally went through hell on earth—and after getting to America, they found (at least for a while) a place in the sun (“Da Bronx”) where they did not have to ever worry again that some Jack Booted Nazi rounding them up in the middle of the night, gas them, shoot them or make them wear the Star of David on their clothing. And for these old survivors, now at the twilight of their lives, (I personally saw some of them -- with faint blue tattoos of numbers on their forearms from the camps) instead of living out their remaining days without fear, instead had to retreat inside their apartments because of a change in neighborhood demographics exacerbated by the horrors of the crack epidemic. I recognize older people of all races make easy victims. But in this circumstance, it seems unduly cruel. Much like a black American soldier coming home from Iraq or Afghanistan having survived brutal blow ups from IEDs or firefights with the Taliban or Al Qaeda with earning an honorable discharge, gets cut down in his/her old neighborhood by the Crips or Bloods. Irony and anger for sure.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=3] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3]When I was living in Europe in the 1980s and 1990s, when a European would ask me where I was from in America I always replied, “The Bronx, New York City.” About 50% of the time, they would ask me if I had seen the movie, “Fort Apache, The Bronx or The Warriors.” I would sadly say yes, but explained all of it was not bad. But think, what does the image “the Bronx is burning or Fort Apache” say to the world about NY, the Bronx, and America? That movie, made in the 1970s, very negatively portrayed the Bronx. Was that area of the Bronx in the 1950s described then as Fort Apache? No. It was largely stable and suffered from less crime and was mostly Irish/Italian/Polish and Jewish. In the 1950s and 1960s America’s poorest Congressional districts were not in NYC, mainly in Appalachia and the South. Now, it’s the Bronx. That is very sad.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=3] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3]Unfortunately, for many good Black and Puerto Rican Americans, a change in demographics in the Bronx was generally a very bad thing. Good people of color or Puerto Rican (now the vast majority in the Bronx) tried to get out of bad Bronx neighborhoods—moving north away from the bad actors in their largely minority populated neighborhoods. However, with the good came the bad eventually. Soon the cycle started anew. In a strange way, it may be a form of Black on Black violence. Projects did not solve problems, there is a lot of evidence it created more. This cycle consumed Norwood, and it is tragic, not just for the good Irish/Jew/Italian who retreated, but also for the good Black/Puerto Rican/Dominican who tried to find a better place to live. When the Irish/Poles, etc. lived in the South Bronx, they did not destroy it in the process of upward mobility. That happened after they were gone.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=3] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3]Thank you for reading this SoBro You likely don’t agree with some of what I have written, but it’s the truth from my perspective. Just as you have yours. [/SIZE]
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:44 AM
 
Location: Beautiful Pelham Parkway,The Bronx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SadIrish View Post
I used to love the area I grew up in, but last summer made the mistake of going back. It was ugly, dirty, and made me so sad.

I lived in the Bronx until age 18. The Norwood area our family lived in was okay, some idiots, but in general it was a fairly safe place to live and grow up. Although we lived on a dead end street, with railroads on both sides, there was a sense of community and that if you worked hard you could do whatever you wished. There was respect for people, very little vandalism, and a general sense of community pride.

However, things began to change around 1973. The good people in our neighborhood did not want to put up with the rise in crime, encroaching racial groups that were pretty violent and whose habits and public decorum was low class. No respect for anyone.

I can recall walking along Webster Avenue when I was about 11 and from overhead a large group of Afro-American and Puerto Rican teens had taken bottles and even light bulbs from the 3rd Ave. El and hurled them down on me and several others who just happened to be passing by from the platform. We had all been minding our business and all of a sudden a shower of glass descended upon us. What had we done? Why did we deserve it? One old lady was even hit on the arm. We talked her into going around the corner to escape anymore things being hurled down on us. I was confused. I had not been a bad kid, why the hell did they do that?

It was that kind of behavior that drove off the good, decent, blue-collar and low middle class familes that populated our neighborhood. Those teens were laughing and cursing us, then disappeared in a train heading south. You have to ask yourself, why should good people have to put up with crap like that? Of course, no cops were in the area although the 52nd precinct was not too far away. White kids in our neighborhood were targeted in nearby public schools because of mandated busing. The teachers could not control the classrooms, drugs were becoming commonplace and any attempt to curb violence or enforce classroom discipline so all kids in the class could learn was very hard if not impossible. Assaults on teachers in our schools was happening! Just ten years earlier such a thing was unheard of! If you resisted and tried to keep your neighborhood safe you were labled racist, if you fought the tide with reason you were ignored because 'they needed help'.

The parks in our neighborhood went from lovely places to abandoned wilds--left to drug pushers, criminals, and sex offenders. The number of kids playing in the Mosholu Little League kept getting smaller, because some of them had been attacked by minority teens in their walks to a from games. The atmosphere of rising crime, loss of safety, changing demographics, racial incidents, etc. spelled the end of Norwood.

I really feel sad for all the old white people, you know, the ones who used to sit in the sun in their folding aluminium webbed chairs, along the streets, gabbing and enjoying the slanted sunlight that reached them from the roof tops. I recall them as a child, some of them survivors from the concentration camps--and it was good that they did not have to live in fear in the Bronx. However, by the early 1980s, they slowly disappeared from the streets--being too easy as a target for muggers and crack heads. The locked themsleves in their rent controled homes...unless they found the money to go to Co-Op City where it was less dangerous.

I am not a racist person, but I call them like I see them. A lot of different minorities 'rotated' through the Bronx as part of the American dream. Why has it not happened for those there? I would submit it's not society, not 'white privilage', or Robert Moses. It is an internal sub culture that is toxic. I knew many good Puerto Rican guys and Black guys in my high school--but they were the exception, given that it was a Catholic School. Their parents knew as well as ours did that you could not get a quality High School Education in the Bronx in the 1970s (Bronx HS of Science exempted) because of the lack of control, danger, drugs, and other ills.

It is such a shame. It was a good place, far from perfect, but it was run into the ground by liberals who thought that building projects would build better people.

Don't go to Hunts point. Riverdale still has some charm, but watch your back.
SadIrish
You must have Alzheimer's or something because your memory is completely distorted.

I'm an Irish American who has been living in NYC for over 35 years.Although I grew up in Boston,I came to NYC frequently in the 60's and stayed with an aunt, who lived in Norwood at the time. I don't remember Norwood in those days as the perfect peaceful and clean place you describe.It was filled with Irish bullies and tough asses and my aunt used to warn me about all the bad kids in the neighborhood.She didn't like to go out at night.I thought the streets were pretty grungy too... compared to my own Irish ghetto neighborhood in Boston.
In a strange twist of fate, I moved to The Bronx a few years ago. I have some cousins in Woodlawn and a Dr at Montefiore so I go through Norwood on a regular basis.If anything,it seems cleaner to me now than I remember it as back then.And I'm perfectly comfortable on the streets,even late at night.
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Old 12-01-2010, 11:25 AM
 
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I could not read RevisionistHistoryIrish's response. Nonetheless it is off topic.

I actually don't go to Norwood very often, because there really isn't a reason for most people to go there. As far as I know, it is a solid working class community that is fairly diverse....and the reality is..that is no different than what it was back in the day...working class...minus the brown people.
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Old 12-01-2010, 11:26 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluedog2 View Post
You must have Alzheimer's or something because your memory is completely distorted.

I'm an Irish American who has been living in NYC for over 35 years.Although I grew up in Boston,I came to NYC frequently in the 60's and stayed with an aunt, who lived in Norwood at the time. I don't remember Norwood in those days as the perfect peaceful and clean place you describe.It was filled with Irish bullies and tough asses and my aunt used to warn me about all the bad kids in the neighborhood.She didn't like to go out at night.I thought the streets were pretty grungy too... compared to my own Irish ghetto neighborhood in Boston.
In a strange twist of fate, I moved to The Bronx a few years ago. I have some cousins in Woodlawn and a Dr at Montefiore so I go through Norwood on a regular basis.If anything,it seems cleaner to me now than I remember it as back then.And I'm perfectly comfortable on the streets,even late at night.
That's funny. I knew the Norwood of the early 1980s and it was still largely as the sad Irish fella described. Going back years later, I was shocked by how it and Bedford Park were deteriorating. Nothing like the classic South Bronx, but still worse for wear. I have not been there in 3 years. Is it on the upswing again?

As for Irish bullies, tough guy like you should know how to handle the Ducky Boys.
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Old 12-01-2010, 11:40 AM
 
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Bedford park has certainly not deteriorated, despite our elected officials doing their best to sink the place (Armory any one?). Bedford Park is very diverse and solidly working and middle class...again...no different than what it has always been...except more brown folks. How is this deteriorating?
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Old 12-01-2010, 11:48 AM
 
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First off, thanks for your candor SoBro. I see I have angered you and for that I am sorry. Believe me; I have lived with a lot of people of color, in other countries, and on other continents. I have also lived in the US South quite a bit, such as Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Florida, etc. Sadly, there is still a sense of real discrimination, but over the last 30 years it’s getting weaker and weaker.

A polite society is polite no matter the color of the skin, fold of the eyes, religion or ethnicity. In the most simple of terms, my neighborhood was more polite in the late 1960s and early 1970s then now. What are polite or polite people? Well in the context of my “Norwood” they are people who honor the old, those who respect the rights of others, their property, their safety; those who understand that they are part of a larger community with standards of decorum and that they should not do as they please simply because they can (like not playing the stereo at 110 decibels at midnight with the windows open on your fire escape in July), are the folks that look out for their neighbors (for instance we used to carry senior citizens groceries up the stair to help them out (remember those collapsible aluminum pull carts?)—and if we did not, my parents would sure let us know it! In my case, it was my Irish immigrant Mother’s wooden spoon and for my Dad his belt that reinforced proper pro social behavior. Simply, it’s self respect and community respect.

The mothers in our neighborhood would ‘narc’ you out if you were doing something wrong on the street (it seemed like at least one of them was always watching out the window, arms propped on a pillow) or spied you doing something you were not supposed to do—thereby extending the range of your parents own eyes and ears—I resented it then (I did like to be a tad mischievous but never criminal) but am thankful for it now. In the “Clinton vernacular,” it does take a village.

The fathers in our neighborhood watched us play stickball after work, coached little league, served as mentors in the local scout troop and candidly, also spent a fair amount of time on leather stools dipping their thirsty blue collar mouths into glasses of Rheingold or Shaffer’s beer at local beer joints with storied names like the Black Thorn, the Killarney Irish Rose, Gorman’s Pub, etc. at the first excuse -- especially if there was a hotly contested baseball game on the TV over the bar. It was not like Ozzie and Harriet or June and Ward lived on our block; we had our fair share of dysfunctional families and problems, but you could sit out on the stoop at midnight or later and never worry if there was going to be a shooting, a mugging, a drive by, somebody breaking into your car (please note that seemingly all cars in our neighborhood were used, no one I knew owned a new car) or had to fear that a group of thugs would jump you or worse yet, harm your kids. I am not making this up, it was really that way.

I did not posit my initial comments from a lack of historical facts, rather it was just some angst and anger that tumbled out when I think of how my neighborhood looks today (well last year) in contrast with the memories of yesteryear. Seeing closed stores where there were once German bakeries, A&P supermarkets, diners, etc. gone and graffiti everywhere and a Prostitutes walking on Webster Ave was awful. What was once vibrant was now on life support.

I know a lot of Irish history, indeed I traveled back to the cottage (thatched room still on it) my Mom and eleven of her siblings were born and raised in It was small, only a turf fire to warm it and one gas lamp for light at night. For Christmas, they got an orange, or a small toy like a wooden carved car or horse. It was a tough life, so when they were teens, they left the farm and Ireland. Half came to the States, the other half to the UK. In my Mom’s case, she left at 16 and worked in the lower east side garment district. Her highest completed grade level was 6th grade. But she loved to read (Harlequin romances of all things) but importantly passed it on to us five kids. Dad never finished High School, dropping out to go to work to help with household expenses after his Dad died when he was a young teen. We did not have a lot as kids (yes, we all wore a lot of hand me downs and resented it) and did not have a working TV for years (in retrospect probably a very good thing). But there was always love AND discipline in the house—and that made all the difference.

Ireland was cursed by being next to England. I am sure you have seen or read the term that the Irish were referred as the “******s of Europe” by many in the US and Europe during the 19th and 20th century, (tying into your comment about substituting Irish for Black.) Employment signs in NY and Boston proclaimed “No Irish Need Apply” etc. Like almost all immigrant groups coming to the US, they too suffered discrimination and abuse. Every ethnic group lived in a ghetto for a time. But given that this is America, the majority of them moved up (and often out) given our then economic and social system that fostered self empowerment and improvement if you were willing to work your butt off in the marketplace and in school. Free public education—what a concept!

Ireland was brutalized under the English. England’s Lord Protector Cromwell stole Irish land, displaced tens of thousands of Irish, made English the official language—destroying a millennium of Gaelic oral traditions and speech, made the Protestant Church of England the official state church and taxed the Irish Catholics to pay for it, and overall heavily taxed the poorest of the Irish while exempting themselves. It was like France before the French Revolution of 1789. For the English overlords -- in the merry words of Mel Brooks in History of the World Part 1, “it’s good to be the King.”

The English even cut down the great forests of Ireland to build the increasingly powerful English Navy that became their “walls of oak” in future conflicts. When the great Potato Famine hit Ireland in the late 1840s, the main food stable (the humble potato that was native to South American which fortunately thrived in the poor soil of Ireland) the Irish peasant depended on for 90% of his/her diet literally rotted to black mush in days. The potato virus was an awful agricultural pandemic in Ireland. A good book about it is “The Great Hunger” by Cecil Woodhull-Smith (sp?).

The English, in their kindness, did not help in any way, indeed they refused to sell additional food to the starving Irish and incredibly cut back on food exports to the starving island. It was a horrible place and situation to be—prompting many Irish to flee to America for both food and freedom. If you have ever read “Gulliver’s Travels” you may recognize the author as Jonathan Swift. He also wrote a satirical piece concerning the Irish famine called, “A Modest Proposal,” in which he proposed that the “Irish problem” could be solved by cannibalism. Or by selling “Irish meat” in English markets. Nice.

In a general sense, the Irish in NY/Boston/Philadelphia used the ladder of municipal employment—for a while it was like every cop and fireman in NY was named Pat or Mike. Or they worked on Subways or Els, or drove a bus. In essence, it was Tammany Hall writ large. Many others went into business and after several decades, established themselves just as successfully as the WASPS before them. Anti-Catholic prejudice was severe in our country. The KKK in the US south saw Catholics the second target of choice after Afro-Americans. Nathan Bedford Forrest was no friend of the Irish.

Many newly arrived Irish were caught up (or caused) the draft riots in NY during the Civil War. Rich WASPS paid to have poor Irishmen take their place in the Union Army in the quest to save the Republic and banish slavery. This was a horrible practice. But know this, the Irish were great fighters (like the 369th Infantry Regiment that earned the nick name “the Hell fighters from Harlem” in WWI France) and they fought with tenacity. As an example, during the battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862 the Irish Brigade marched into a well designed Confederate artillery and rifle fire gauntlet. Stonewall Jackson, on Marye’s Heights over looking the battlefield boasted that not even a chicken could walk across it unscathed. When ordered to advance, the Irish regiment marched against their Confederate objective—the covered way/stone wall at the base of the hill, all the while receiving brutal cannon and rife fire, stepping over their own dead and wounded, but nonetheless kept going forward. Very moved, General Robert E. Lee said watching them advance in the face of devastating fire, “those are the bravest men I have ever seen.” A great image of this is artist Don Troiani’s “Faugh-a-Ballah” or clear the way.

In an other for instance, the Jews who worked in the lower east side ‘mini-migrated’ to the Bronx to get out of Manhattan so their kids could see the sky, play in parks, and have more space. Many settled on the Grand Concourse—if you had an address on the “American Avenue des Champs-Élysées” then you knew you had arrived. Many of those Jews had escaped pogroms and raw discrimination in Europe and Russia, and most came to the US penniless. And look what happened. With the reality of religious freedom, economic opportunity, and an American culture that allowed people to take advantage of social mobility, many Jews rose to prominence and prosperity. Yes, their road too was paved with potholes filled with anti-Semitism and violence, yet they made it and could worship without fear. Strangely, many of them were also closet or open Socialists. They may have inadvertently planted the seeds that helped to contribute to the Bronx’s demise decades later. I do take some umbrage with your comments on what I wrote about the Nazi concentration camp survivors who lined the streets of Norwood (and other parts of the Bronx) being targeted by minority criminals in the late 1970s and 80s. Have you been to Germany and gone to Dachau? Or Bergen Beslen? I have. Have you ever read Anne Frank’s Diary? The Holocaust survivors literally went through hell on earth—and after getting to America, they found (at least for a while) a place in the sun (“Da Bronx”) where they did not have to ever worry again that some Jack Booted Nazi rounding them up in the middle of the night, gas them, shoot them or make them wear the Star of David on their clothing. And for these old survivors, now at the twilight of their lives, (I personally saw some of them even with faint blue tattoos of numbers on their forearms) instead of living their remaining days out without fear, instead had to retreat inside their apartments because of a change in neighborhood demographics exacerbated by the horrors of the crack epidemic. I recognize older peoples of all races make easy victims. But in this circumstance, it seems unduly cruel. Much like a black American soldier coming home from Iraq or Afghanistan having survived brutal blow ups from IEDs or firefights with the Taliban or Al Qaeda with earning an honorable discharge, gets cut down in his/her old neighborhood by the Crips or Bloods. Irony and anger for sure.

When living in Europe in the 1980s and 1990s, when a European asked me where I was from in America I always replied, “The Bronx, New York City.” About 50% of the time, they would ask me if I had seen the movie, “Fort Apache, The Bronx or The Warriors.” I would sadly say yes, but explained all of it was not bad. But think, what does the image “the Bronx is burning or Fort Apache” say to the world about NY, the Bronx, and America? That movie, made in the 1970s, very negatively portrayed the Bronx. Was that area of the Bronx in the 1950s described then as Fort Apache? No. It was largely stable and suffered from less crime and was mostly Irish/Italian/Polish and Jewish. In the 1950s and 1960s America’s poorest Congressional districts were not in NYC, mainly in Appalachia and the South. Now, it’s the Bronx. That is very sad.

Unfortunately, for many good Black and Puerto Rican Americans, a change in demographics in the Bronx was generally a very bad thing. Good people of color or Puerto Rican (now the vast majority in the Bronx) tried to get out of bad Bronx neighborhoods—moving north away from the bad actors in their largely minority populated neighborhoods. However, with the good came the bad eventually. Soon the cycle started anew. In a strange way, it may be a form of Black on Black violence. Projects did not solve problems, there is a lot of evidence it created more. This cycle consumed Norwood, Bedford Park, Fordham, Morris Hill, etc., and it is tragic, not just for the good Irish/Jew/Italian who retreated, but also for the good Black/Puerto Rican/Dominican who tried to find a better place to live.

When the Irish/Poles, etc. lived in the South Bronx, they did not destroy it in the process of reaching for upward mobility. That happened after they were gone.

Thank you for reading this SoBro You likely don’t agree with some of what I have written, but it’s the truth from my perspective. Just as you have yours.
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Old 12-01-2010, 11:59 AM
 
7,553 posts, read 10,663,904 times
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Originally Posted by SobroGuy View Post
Bedford park has certainly not deteriorated, despite our elected officials doing their best to sink the place (Armory any one?). Bedford Park is very diverse and solidly working and middle class...again...no different than what it has always been...except more brown folks. How is this deteriorating?
I said nothing about "brown folks." Do you always put words in others' mouths?

Take your race card and shove it.
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Old 12-01-2010, 12:05 PM
 
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You are just misreading what I said. Nowhere did I say you are racist or that you mentioned anything about brown folks. I simply said Bedford Park has not deteriorated, and it is solidly working-middle class and diverse...which is the same as it always has been..except there are more brown folks (that's the diverse part). So I wanted to clarify how you believe it is deteriorating, since I believe it is the same with just more brown folks.
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Old 12-01-2010, 01:29 PM
 
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Default BlueDog 2.0

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluedog2 View Post
You must have Alzheimer's or something because your memory is completely distorted.

I'm an Irish American who has been living in NYC for over 35 years.Although I grew up in Boston,I came to NYC frequently in the 60's and stayed with an aunt, who lived in Norwood at the time. I don't remember Norwood in those days as the perfect peaceful and clean place you describe.It was filled with Irish bullies and tough asses and my aunt used to warn me about all the bad kids in the neighborhood.She didn't like to go out at night.I thought the streets were pretty grungy too... compared to my own Irish ghetto neighborhood in Boston.
In a strange twist of fate, I moved to The Bronx a few years ago. I have some cousins in Woodlawn and a Dr at Montefiore so I go through Norwood on a regular basis.If anything,it seems cleaner to me now than I remember it as back then.And I'm perfectly comfortable on the streets,even late at night.
Hey, understand. Somedays things look better than others. Woodlawn was always nicer than Norwood. Norwood was gritty (along Webster Ave) and nice in other places like around the Oval Park or along Moshalu Parkway. Like I said, it was not Ozzie and Harriet land, somedays you did have to fight--but never had to worry about knives, just knuckles.

Anyway, good luck.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
First off, thanks for your candor SoBro. I see I have angered you and for that I am sorry. Believe me; I have lived with a lot of people of color, in other countries, and on other continents. I have also lived in the US South quite a bit, such as Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Florida, etc. Sadly, there is still a sense of real discrimination, but over the last 30 years it’s getting weaker and weaker.

A polite society is polite no matter the color of the skin, fold of the eyes, religion or ethnicity. In the most simple of terms, my neighborhood was more polite in the late 1960s and early 1970s then now. What are polite or polite people? Well in the context of my “Norwood” they are people who honor the old, those who respect the rights of others, their property, their safety; those who understand that they are part of a larger community with standards of decorum and that they should not do as they please simply because they can (like not playing the stereo at 110 decibels at midnight with the windows open on your fire escape in July), are the folks that look out for their neighbors (for instance we used to carry senior citizens groceries up the stair to help them out (remember those collapsible aluminum pull carts?)—and if we did not, my parents would sure let us know it! In my case, it was my Irish immigrant Mother’s wooden spoon and for my Dad his belt that reinforced proper pro social behavior. Simply, it’s self respect and community respect.


The mothers in our neighborhood would ‘narc’ you out if you were doing something wrong on the street (it seemed like at least one of them was always watching out the window, arms propped on a pillow) or spied you doing something you were not supposed to do—thereby extending the range of your parents own eyes and ears—I resented it then (I did like to be a tad mischievous but never criminal) but am thankful for it now. In the “Clinton vernacular,” it does take a village.

The fathers in our neighborhood watched us play stickball after work, coached little league, served as mentors in the local scout troop and candidly, also spent a fair amount of time on leather stools dipping their thirsty blue collar mouths into glasses of Rheingold or Shaffer’s beer at local beer joints with storied names like the Black Thorn, the Killarney Irish Rose, Gorman’s Pub, etc. at the first excuse -- especially if there was a hotly contested baseball game on the TV over the bar. It was not like Ozzie and Harriet or June and Ward lived on our block; we had our fair share of dysfunctional families and problems, but you could sit out on the stoop at midnight or later and never worry if there was going to be a shooting, a mugging, a drive by, somebody breaking into your car (please note that seemingly all cars in our neighborhood were used, no one I knew owned a new car) or had to fear that a group of thugs would jump you or worse yet, harm your kids. I am not making this up, it was really that way.

I did not posit my initial comments from a lack of historical facts, rather it was just some angst and anger that tumbled out when I think of how my neighborhood looks today (well last year) in contrast with the memories of yesteryear. Seeing closed stores where there were once German bakeries, A&P supermarkets, diners, etc. gone and graffiti everywhere and a Prostitutes walking on Webster Ave was awful. What was once vibrant was now on life support.

I know a lot of Irish history, indeed I traveled back to the cottage (thatched room still on it) my Mom and eleven of her siblings were born and raised in It was small, only a turf fire to warm it and one gas lamp for light at night. For Christmas, they got an orange, or a small toy like a wooden carved car or horse. It was a tough life, so when they were teens, they left the farm and Ireland. Half came to the States, the other half to the UK. In my Mom’s case, she left at 16 and worked in the lower east side garment district. Her highest completed grade level was 6th grade. But she loved to read (Harlequin romances of all things) but importantly passed it on to us five kids. Dad never finished High School, dropping out to go to work to help with household expenses after his Dad died when he was a young teen. We did not have a lot as kids (yes, we all wore a lot of hand me downs and resented it) and did not have a working TV for years (in retrospect probably a very good thing). But there was always love AND discipline in the house—and that made all the difference.

Ireland was cursed by being next to England. I am sure you have seen or read the term that the Irish were referred as the “******s of Europe” by many in the US and Europe during the 19th and 20th century, (tying into your comment about substituting Irish for Black.) Employment signs in NY and Boston proclaimed “No Irish Need Apply” etc. Like almost all immigrant groups coming to the US, they too suffered discrimination and abuse. Every ethnic group lived in a ghetto for a time. But given that this is America, the majority of them moved up (and often out) given our then economic and social system that fostered self empowerment and improvement if you were willing to work your butt off in the marketplace and in school. Free public education—what a concept!

Ireland was brutalized under the English. England’s Lord Protector Cromwell stole Irish land, displaced tens of thousands of Irish, made English the official language—destroying a millennium of Gaelic oral traditions and speech, made the Protestant Church of England the official state church and taxed the Irish Catholics to pay for it, and overall heavily taxed the poorest of the Irish while exempting themselves. It was like France before the French Revolution of 1789. For the English overlords -- in the merry words of Mel Brooks in History of the World Part 1, “it’s good to be the King.”

The English even cut down the great forests of Ireland to build the increasingly powerful English Navy that became their “walls of oak” in future conflicts. When the great Potato Famine hit Ireland in the late 1840s, the main food stable (the humble potato that was native to South American which fortunately thrived in the poor soil of Ireland) the Irish peasant depended on for 90% of his/her diet literally rotted to black mush in days. The potato virus was an awful agricultural pandemic in Ireland. A good book about it is “The Great Hunger” by Cecil Woodhull-Smith (sp?).

The English, in their kindness, did not help in any way, indeed they refused to sell additional food to the starving Irish and incredibly cut back on food exports to the starving island. It was a horrible place and situation to be—prompting many Irish to flee to America for both food and freedom. If you have ever read “Gulliver’s Travels” you may recognize the author as Jonathan Swift. He also wrote a satirical piece concerning the Irish famine called, “A Modest Proposal,” in which he proposed that the “Irish problem” could be solved by cannibalism. Or by selling “Irish meat” in English markets. Nice.

In a general sense, the Irish in NY/Boston/Philadelphia used the ladder of municipal employment—for a while it was like every cop and fireman in NY was named Pat or Mike. Or they worked on Subways or Els, or drove a bus. In essence, it was Tammany Hall writ large. Many others went into business and after several decades, established themselves just as successfully as the WASPS before them. Anti-Catholic prejudice was severe in our country. The KKK in the US south saw Catholics the second target of choice after Afro-Americans. Nathan Bedford Forrest was no friend of the Irish.

Many newly arrived Irish were caught up (or caused) the draft riots in NY during the Civil War. Rich WASPS paid to have poor Irishmen take their place in the Union Army in the quest to save the Republic and banish slavery. This was a horrible practice. But know this, the Irish were great fighters (like the 369th Infantry Regiment that earned the nick name “the Hell fighters from Harlem” in WWI France) and they fought with tenacity. As an example, during the battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862 the Irish Brigade marched into a well designed Confederate artillery and rifle fire gauntlet. Stonewall Jackson, on Marye’s Heights over looking the battlefield boasted that not even a chicken could walk across it unscathed. When ordered to advance, the Irish regiment marched against their Confederate objective—the covered way/stone wall at the base of the hill, all the while receiving brutal cannon and rife fire, stepping over their own dead and wounded, but nonetheless kept going forward. Very moved, General Robert E. Lee said watching them advance in the face of devastating fire, “those are the bravest men I have ever seen.” A great image of this is artist Don Troiani’s “Faugh-a-Ballah” or clear the way.

In an other for instance, the Jews who worked in the lower east side ‘mini-migrated’ to the Bronx to get out of Manhattan so their kids could see the sky, play in parks, and have more space. Many settled on the Grand Concourse—if you had an address on the “American Avenue des Champs-Élysées” then you knew you had arrived. Many of those Jews had escaped pogroms and raw discrimination in Europe and Russia, and most came to the US penniless. And look what happened. With the reality of religious freedom, economic opportunity, and an American culture that allowed people to take advantage of social mobility, many Jews rose to prominence and prosperity. Yes, their road too was paved with potholes filled with anti-Semitism and violence, yet they made it and could worship without fear. Strangely, many of them were also closet or open Socialists. They may have inadvertently planted the seeds that helped to contribute to the Bronx’s demise decades later. I do take some umbrage with your comments on what I wrote about the Nazi concentration camp survivors who lined the streets of Norwood (and other parts of the Bronx) being targeted by minority criminals in the late 1970s and 80s. Have you been to Germany and gone to Dachau? Or Bergen Beslen? I have. Have you ever read Anne Frank’s Diary? The Holocaust survivors literally went through hell on earth—and after getting to America, they found (at least for a while) a place in the sun (“Da Bronx”) where they did not have to ever worry again that some Jack Booted Nazi rounding them up in the middle of the night, gas them, shoot them or make them wear the Star of David on their clothing. And for these old survivors, now at the twilight of their lives, (I personally saw some of them even with faint blue tattoos of numbers on their forearms) instead of living their remaining days out without fear, instead had to retreat inside their apartments because of a change in neighborhood demographics exacerbated by the horrors of the crack epidemic. I recognize older peoples of all races make easy victims. But in this circumstance, it seems unduly cruel. Much like a black American soldier coming home from Iraq or Afghanistan having survived brutal blow ups from IEDs or firefights with the Taliban or Al Qaeda with earning an honorable discharge, gets cut down in his/her old neighborhood by the Crips or Bloods. Irony and anger for sure.

When living in Europe in the 1980s and 1990s, when a European asked me where I was from in America I always replied, “The Bronx, New York City.” About 50% of the time, they would ask me if I had seen the movie, “Fort Apache, The Bronx or The Warriors.” I would sadly say yes, but explained all of it was not bad. But think, what does the image “the Bronx is burning or Fort Apache” say to the world about NY, the Bronx, and America? That movie, made in the 1970s, very negatively portrayed the Bronx. Was that area of the Bronx in the 1950s described then as Fort Apache? No. It was largely stable and suffered from less crime and was mostly Irish/Italian/Polish and Jewish. In the 1950s and 1960s America’s poorest Congressional districts were not in NYC, mainly in Appalachia and the South. Now, it’s the Bronx. That is very sad.

Unfortunately, for many good Black and Puerto Rican Americans, a change in demographics in the Bronx was generally a very bad thing. Good people of color or Puerto Rican (now the vast majority in the Bronx) tried to get out of bad Bronx neighborhoods—moving north away from the bad actors in their largely minority populated neighborhoods. However, with the good came the bad eventually. Soon the cycle started anew. In a strange way, it may be a form of Black on Black violence. Projects did not solve problems, there is a lot of evidence it created more. This cycle consumed Norwood, Bedford Park, Fordham, Morris Hill, etc., and it is tragic, not just for the good Irish/Jew/Italian who retreated, but also for the good Black/Puerto Rican/Dominican who tried to find a better place to live.

When the Irish/Poles, etc. lived in the South Bronx, they did not destroy it in the process of reaching for upward mobility. That happened after they were gone.

Thank you for reading this SoBro You likely don’t agree with some of what I have written, but it’s the truth from my perspective. Just as you have yours.
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