Rainbow Row, Charleston SC
I was raised in the Bronx, New York in 50s and 60s when the demographics were such that families in the borough were predominantly Jewish – like mine – or Catholic. In fact my friend Kathie, whose family was Moravian, tells me she was often the only WASP in her class!
And growing up in those relatively innocent post-war years I don’t remember being affected, or even aware of antisemitism.
Earlier, during WW II my dad served in the Army and was stationed at the Charleston, SC port of embarkation. As an officer he was given housing and allowed to bring family, and there in an Army hospital I was born. (See Captain)
My father spoke little about the war and regrettably I didn’t ask, and I don’t know if my folks encountered antisemitism on that Charleston Army base. But I think they did not as my mother spoke of friendships with both Jewish and non-Jewish families, and of the celebration for my father at the Officers Club on the night I was born.
But my mother Jessie, the daughter of Jewish, Eastern European immigrants, happened to be dark complexioned with dark eyes and very dark hair. And as a baby I had a head of dark curls, and both of us tanned by the Carolina sun.
Pushing me in my baby carriage my mother often heard taunts of “brass ankle” and “pickaninny”. The former she learned was a pejorative term for a Creole or a woman of mixed race; and the latter a derogatory term for a Black child.
While we were fighting hate abroad, here at home hate continued to raise its ugly head, and sadly it does still.
Jessie and me, Charleston 1945
– Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!