Re: "The Siege on South Peoria Street" (1/14/00)
This article was nostalgic reading for me. It was astounding to discover another/different perspective of Chicago's south side in the 1950s. My parents immigrated to Chicago in the early 50s with my brother, sister, and me. My parents were Irish but met and married in London, where my sister, brother, and I were born during WWII. We lived a bit further south at 72nd and May. There we too encountered an unexpected bias but of a different hue. To make the taunting tolerable I attributed the mean-spirited mockery of our accent, clothing, and mere existence to ignorance. It was a blue-collar neighborhood of mostly immigrant stock, one boot off the boat themselves. While we were renters (my parents had to start over here) most people in the neighborhood had acquired meager frame bungalows and a patch of grass and somehow felt that elevation entitled them to scorn us. Besides the swooning culture shock and homesickness, at a very tender age we had to wrestle with the sickening feeling of somehow being "wrong" or "misfits." It caused irreparable harm. Ironically, no person of color has ever made me feel so low.