Monday, July 26, 2010

Freewheelin' In The Bronx 1971 (x)

If you walked across the Grand Concourse towards Jerome Avenue, north past Lehman College and northwest of Lehman College, you'd eventually reach both Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. In the early 1970s, there were still a lot of Irish-American working-class families living in the houses around Jerome Avenue, north of Fordham Road. And the apartment buildings around Van Cortlandt Pak in the eary 1970s also still contained both Irish-American working-class families and the familes of office workers of Jewish religious background.

So when I walked around these neighborhoods a few times on weekends in the spring and summer of 1971, I'd often see young Irish-American high school working-class women returning to their then-culturally straight parents' houses or apartments, after going shopping, eating in restaurants, going to the movies or hanging out in the playgrounds or in Van Cortlandt Park. And in both the playgrounds and in Van Cortlandt Park, in the early 1970s, fairly large numbers of Irish American working-class guys and culturally assimilated guys of Jewish ethnic background in their 20s could still be seen playing basketball or handball in the playgrounds, just hanging out in the playgrounds and playing softball in Van Corlandt Park in early 1971. Yet compared to the Upper West Side, the Lower East Side or most campus towns of the early 1970s, the neighborhoods around Van Cortlandt Park and north of Fordham Road near Jerome Avenue seemed to have changed very little, culturally, from what they had been like during the early 1960s--except for the probability that more of the guys in their 20s who were hanging out in the playgrounds, besides still drinking beer, probably also smoked more joints now than did their counterparts in the early 1960s.