Sunday, November 19, 2017

Growing Up in Morrisania in the Fifties: Oral History Reflections


Spending time with Charlotte Watson Manus and Paul Himmelstein and listening to them talk about their youth in Morrisania brought back vivid memories of growing up in New York working class neighborhoods where your block and your building were the most important communities you were part of, where fighting was a part of life, but when you could come home by public transportation at 2 AM without worrying about what would happen to you, and when the sounds of music were everywhere, coming out of stores and apartments and portable radios and, performed live, were something you and your friends aspired to do and in a few instances, did well enough to make a record. That was New York in the Fifties for young people growing up working class. whether you were Black, Puerto Rican, Jewish, Irish or Italian. There was poverty, there was crowding, there was violence, there was tracking in schools, and there was racism, which kept people out of neighborhoods where they weren't welcome, but there was also camaraderie, community and hope. And great great music being produced in YOUR neighborhood., Which is why there is so much nostalgia for those days among those of us still alive.

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