by Jeff Costello, December 28, 2016
Reading the anti-semitism piece in the Dec. 20 daily Mendo County Today, I was reminded of the time I learned about the practice (belief?) of Jew-hating.
I grew up in central Connecticut, a place where Catholicism was the dominant religion, but was saved from that by the fact that my Irish father had excommunicated himself at the age of 12. Neither parent was religious but my Scottish mother sent me to a Presbyterian Sunday school where I couldn't get past the painting of a blond Jesus talking to two blond children -- all dressed in white -- in a perfectly manicured city park. That and the smarmy "teacher" who handed out candy to all the kids at the beginning of class. I told my mother I wouldn't be going back and she accepted that without question.
So no, I'm not Jewish, but I had Jewish cousins in Manhattan, from my uncle's wife, who came with kids attached. At the time (early-mid fifties) everyone in New York City was Italian, Irish or Jewish. Or uptown, black and Puerto Rican. Simpler times. Would "West Side Story" have a Pakistani gang if written today?
We moved from Hartford to the suburb of Farmington, what our New York relatives called "the country" --- there were trees -- in 1954. I was eight years old. My parents saw fit to send me off to a day camp the next summer. Camp Winding Trails had some sort of activities, none of which I really remember except the little carnivals where the counselors guessed your weight or you threw balls at bottles.
The one memory I still carry with me is the time we walked through the woods to a neighboring camp in the nearby town of Avon. We were met somewhere in the middle by kids from other camp. Suddenly I was being pelted with rocks, while the blond Hitler-youth-looking kid throwing them yelled "Jew! Fucking Jew!"
I may be Scot-Irish but I had dark hair and more or less my father's nose There's a name for these noses, Roman or aquiline, I think. I've been mistaken for Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and other such Mediterranean types most of my life, but with this "Jew" thing I was being physically attacked. A mixed-race music group I knew in the 60's called the Jam Factory had a song called "What's the Matter with People." This song came to my mind with the Trump thing. I saw the rallies, full of people who had a great deal the matter with them. But it's nothing new.
Eventually some adult stopped the Hitler Youth kid from throwing the rocks. But I had learned something - or other - about things the matter with people.