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View Diary: Never Swim When There's No Life-Guard And Never Swim Alone! (75 comments)

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  •  My Dad lived in Irvington for years before he was (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alexandra Lynch, rebel ga, bumbi

    married & then moved back at the end of his life at Winchester Gardens "retirement community" (or is that in Maplewood?).  A lot of my friends in HS (at Seton Hall Prep in S. Orange) & from Olympic Park were from Irvington, which was an incredibly diverse town then, including a lot of refugees from Eastern Europe -- Hungary, the Ukraine, etc.

           The Olympic Park pool was also an amazing melting pot by any standards because it was basically the only big public pool available for working-class families & kids from major parts of Irvington, Newark, and Union, other than the "Jewish" swim club in Union or the "Catholic" country club in Maplewood, etc.;  and of course there was no formal segregation of any kind at the Park.  

            I'm sure lots of the customers of every ethnicity were full of various prejudices, but the setting just seemed to militate against their ever breaking out into any significant conflict.   It made the racial violence all over the country in that era seem odd in comparison, even though I knew intellectually that the situation at the pool was the oddity.  Like I said, it was a real loss to the surrounding communities when it was closed & sold in 1966.  The world could still use a lot more places like it.

    "If you don't read the newspapers, you're uninformed. If you do read the newspapers, you're misinformed." -- M. Twain

    by Oliver St John Gogarty on Sun May 26, 2013 at 02:35:56 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  heh, Dad went to Seton Hall prep too. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oliver St John Gogarty

      A lot of the professors from Seton Hall college who weren't able to fight in WWII ended up teaching at the prep school so my dad had college professors teaching him in high school.

      It was a very different world back then.  My dad finished second in his class but never considered Ivy League schools because they wouldn't take very many "ethnic" students and no scholarships.  So he went to Fordam in The Bronx on an Army Air Corps (soon to be Air Force ;-) scholarship.

      Grandma got stuck on a crosstown bus in Newark during the riots, the bus driver abandoned the passengers leaving them to fend for themselves.  Dad and his brothers convinced her it was time to retire from her insurance company job.

      By the end of her life she witnessed great change in her old neighbor, but with time she came to see the working class blacks in her building as friends and neighbors.

      •  When did your Dad graduate from "The Prep"? (0+ / 0-)

        My brother graduated in 1955, me in 1964.  I was also second in my class but also too parochial to apply to an Ivy League school, even though a friend of mine -- Dennis Murphy & thus  about as "ethnic" as could be -- went to Harvard and tried for a couple of college years to get me to transfer there from Holy Cross.  More fool me, I didn't.

              I remember driving past many armored personnel carriers on my way from Millburn to East Orange for my summer job in 1967 & how terrified during the riots were the kids from Newark for whom my girlfriend was the counselor in an Upward Bound or some such program in Convent Station at St. E.'s.  Strange times, indeed, Mama.  

        "If you don't read the newspapers, you're uninformed. If you do read the newspapers, you're misinformed." -- M. Twain

        by Oliver St John Gogarty on Sun May 26, 2013 at 05:14:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  He was there in the 1940s (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rebel ga

          Hence the professors teaching the high school students -- the college students were there, they were all in the military fighting WWII. My dad returned from his Air Force service in the late 50s and was working on his Ph.D at NYU though he never finished because he got married to mom and he took a job near Boston by 1961.

          I do think by the late 50s or 60s the Ivies became more diverse but apparently not in my father's Day.

          I haven't been back to the area in about 20 years since friends in Union sold their house and moved away.

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