Call Me “irresponsible, unreliable, throw in undependable”; but don’t call me “deplorable”

Hillary, Hillary, Hillary…can we still love you when you call us names? And for me, the question is: am I in the “desperate” bucket or the “deplorable” basket, just because I won’t vote for you?

A little background is in order.

11-08-hillarys-houseHillary and I started out life on opposite sides of the railroad tracks. As a child, she lived at 235 Wisner St., Park Ridge, Ill, a happy suburb of Chicago. Her old house is now worth about $650,000, boasts 2,500 square feet, and was bought for cash by her dad, who had enough dough left to send her to Wellesley College (tuition, room and board – $61,000 a year) for an elite education, and then onto Yale for a law degree.

Being born with all the perks is no disgrace. Lacking any humility, however, is truly “deplorable.” The poor – on the other hand – find it easy to be humble, having already been humbled by circumstance.

Hillary has spoken of the “deplorables” and the “disaffected”. Which leaves me to wonder which am I? The answer is – like most Americans – a little of both.

“Disaffected” means no longer happy and willing to support a leader, government, etc., according to Webster’s dictionary. That is an accurate description of many of the people in my neighborhood during the 40s and 50s, as well as today.

1918My childhood home was at 1918 E. Willard St., Philadelphia, a section of Fishtown, called Harrowgate. Built in 1921 for mill workers, we rented at $30 a month, plus coal and electric for another $25, leaving about $20 a month from my mother’s wages and tips as a waitress to buy food and clothing. The house had two rooms downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs, causing my sister and I to share the same tiny bedroom until the family moved when I was ten. The lot was 12′ x 71′, enough for a small yard, tea roses and a turtle, named Myrtle.

Last month, the old homestead was auctioned at foreclosure for $16,000. While I wouldn’t pay a dime for it, there are many needy families, who will be happy to live there.

I doubt if Hillary knew anyone Black as a child. The racial makeup of Park Ridge today is 95.4% White, and 0.2% African American. Of the 14, 219 households, 284 are Black, and my guess is Blacks don’t live on the White side of the tracks.

Wikipedia describes today’s Harrowgate demographics:

As of the 2010 Census, Harrowgate was 48.5% Hispanic, 34.5% non Hispanic white, 10% black, 4.1% Asian, and 2.9% all other. Today, Harrowgate is primarily a low-income neighborhood largely populated by Puerto Ricans. But also has significant Polish, Irish, Dominican, African American, and West Indian populations.

But, like Hillary’s neighborhood, there were virtually no Blacks in Harrowgate in the 40s. One reason was that the housing was so lousy, nobody wanted to move there – unless they had no choice. Another reason was that the Irish population at the time did not tolerate Black or Jewish neighbors.

My family was used to hearing “dirty Jew’ hollered. When I was eight years old, the fireman neighbor climbed the fence into our yard, screaming “kike”, and punched my father in the face. None of the family subsequently visited the fireman in the hospital, but everyone on the street was suddenly aware that Jews could fight back.

My father wouldn’t allow us to curse, let alone call people a basket of deplorables. He did ponder why no Jew was hired at any Philadelphia bank at the time, and no Jew was allowed to join a golf club or work at a major law firm. Jews were relegated to small local shops and there were about 50 Jewish families in Harrowgate at the time.

Probably, like Hillary, I had no contact with Blacks. The only Black family that ever moved into Harrowgate during the 40s and 50s, faced riots and burning crosses, and the father was found hanged a week later. A few days later the mother and children moved.

That racial insulation ended when I started Central High, a public magnet school for boys with good marks, who sought a tough, liberal education. I don’t remember the name of the first Black I spoke to there. It may even have been Jeremiah Wright, who graduated in my class in 1959. Jeremiah was to become Barack Obama’s minister for decades and a hater of Israel. His father was a preacher at a large West Oak Lane Baptist church, somewhat daunting to this boy, whose family had no car, no telephone, shoveled coal for heat and lived next door to a maniac, who was convicted at age 11 of shooting a local storekeeper to death.

As I look back, I can almost sympathize with Hillary’s dismissal of the poor as desperate or deplorable. She didn’t grew up with anyone other than her own class, never wondered why her house lacked running hot water, never ate soup from the same bone for three nights. She never cried because there was no dime for a movie, no visits to restaurants, no new clothes, just discards from the Salvation Army.

The poor, Black and White and battered all over, have watched their jobs disappear, the rich get richer, their rulers rant with arrogance.

It’s enough to make them all into basket cases.









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