Writers of the Italian American Experience
May 2008 Conference
Casa Italia,Stone ParkIL
Beyond Family Values – Beyond the Work Ethic – Beyond Demographics
Part 1. Becoming What we Become
Part 2. My End of Taylor Street.
Part 3. Family Values and the Work Ethic. Redefining Welfare.
Part 4. The Silence was Deafening. Who was Supposed to Watch Out for Us?
Part 5. The Jane Addams Hull House complex. Melting Pot, Smelting Pot – We were Virtually Wall-to-
*Historians and scholars refer to immigrants who had emigrated from their homeland to America, as first generation Americans. Taylor Street’s Italian Americans, on the other hand, refers to the children of their immigrant parents as first generation Italian American. For our purposes, the essays and stories contained in the Taylor Street Archives have opted for the colloquial definition:–the children of our immigrant parents are referred to as ‘first generation Italian-Americans.” Our parents, having emigrated from the shores of southern Italy, are referred to as Italian-American immigrants.
The Italian American experience I am familiar with–and will reference here today– is Chicago’s legendary Taylor Street, the port-of-call for Chicago’s Italian Americans. A time, a place and a people that were and will never be again.
I accepted the offer to participate in this conference of Italian American writers because its stated objective was to revisit the Italian American experience with the fresh insights and new perceptions that our changing society now affords us. The theme of the conference is to reconstruct past writings of the Italian American experience…discarding old perceptions in favor of new realities.
These are the three important points I will try to touch on today, time permitting. Hopefully, snippets from the Taylor Street Archives will achieve this goal without offending anyone.
- We, as writers, should not hide behind the oft repeated mantras of family values and the work ethic. Limiting ourselves to those mantras will leave unexplored and unexplained the important message of the Italian American experience; i.e., the psychological genocide of a people and the power of the media to orchestrate such a holocaust. “That suffocating feeling of inferiority that enveloped us and devouring our children.”
- We boast about writing our own story of the Italian American experience. However, we allow others, those who control and have access to those media outlets that will survive us, to report our history to their liking. Those who control the media and the media outlets, control our history. Those media outlets include our schools and our universities. One of those important media outlets, the Jane Addams’ Hull House Museum, controls the reported history of Chicago’s Italian Americans—specifically, Taylor Street, the port-of-call for many of our immigrant parents. Since its inception, the bibliographies and web-sites that they control are void of any reference to the legendary Taylor Street. Not one writer who lived the Italian American experience of growing up Taylor Street, the inner core of the Hull House Neighborhood, exists in their bibliographies. The neighborhood that served as the laboratory upon which the social theorists and philanthropists comprising Hull House’s inner sanctum tested their theories and formulated their protests to the establishment has been virtually removed from the legacy of both Jane Addams and the Jane Addams’ Hull House.
- Redefining the Italian American experience must, by definition, include redefining the gangsterism that had become synonymous with the male figure in Italian American culture. We must revisit the likes of the Godfather, Good Fellas and the Sopranos to explore how new theories of human behavior, which explain the Fates of Societies, and apply those theories to those subcultures that evolved during the mass migration from southern Europe…specifically that distinct and unique subculture that evolved for the Italian Americans who emigrated from the shores of southern Italy. We must explore the new theories of human behavior that explain the profound failures prophesized by our sociological soothsayers and how they apply to the Italian American experience.
As writers, we acquire, by default, the role of social behavior theorists and, in rare instances, social behavior engineers. As writers of the Italian American experience, we have the obligation to apply these new theories, these new ways of looking at things, to explore and more accurately explain the Italian American phenomenon. Remembering that, “We have gone all the way to the moon and back again…and still we cannot guarantee the development of a single human being.”
Becoming What we Become
Understanding human behavior–attempting to explain how it is that we become what we become and why we behave as we do–has been the elusive mission of writers as far back as Homer. As writers, we report on human behavior. As writers, we also attempt to explain that behavior. That explanation is often influenced by the philosophical and psychological underpinnings of the day. That journey has taken us from the determinism of Homer’s Gods, who made the decision as to who would triumph at the end of each day’s battle on the plains of Troy…through the breakthrough of the Freudian paradigm…Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness…Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs–the Existentialist theories of Jean Sartre;–and on to and through the various socio-behaviorist theories of the day.
Symbolic Interactionism, a complex matrix of stimulus/response/perception and behavior, between and among individuals and the social milieu they inherit, was the central concept of Jane Addams and her Hull House colleagues in attempting to understand, predict and ultimately improve the human condition of the immigrant population of Chicago’s near-west side. Symbolic Interactionism was the social theory of the day during the Camelot days of Hull House and the laboratory that constituted the inner core of the Hull House neighborhood:–Taylor Street’s Little Italy.
Ironically, E. O. Wilson’s recent Pulitzer Prize winning book on sociobiology suggests that we have come complete circle. His theory of biological determinism, a modern day version of determinism, suggests that the behavior of all animals has been genetically coded by a chemical composition unique to each species… our phylum being no exception. Perhaps Ahab was correct in justifying his obsession to pursue and kill the white whale, when he told his first mate, Starbuck, “It was written a billion years ‘ere these oceans ever rolled.” (Herman Melville, Moby Dick.)
E. O. Wilson further extrapolates that the ethnic groups to which we identify are also uniquely coded by biological determinism. Mario Puzo’s Godfather trilogy hinted at the chemical composition that was uniquely Italian decades before E.O. Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize winning book. How uniquely Italian is Mario Puzo’s descriptions of the Italian persona: “If you do not give, then I must take.” Did Puzo recognize that chemical determinism which was uniquely Italian when he penned the following: “If you touch my sister again, I’ll kill you…Don’t ever let anyone know what you’re thinking…I refused to be a fool dancing on the strings held by all of those big shots…or, That is not justice, your daughter is still alive.” And how about, “Leave the gun, but take the cannolies.”
All of those traits described by Mario Puzo were heavily imbedded in the part ofTaylor Streetwhere I grew up, in my Little Italy. We took what the establishment would not give. We refused to remain servants to the American Dream. We ate the cannolies.
If the new frontiers of human behavior are to be applied to the writings of the Italian American experience, we must re-examine and possibly discard obsolete perceptions. Obsolete perceptions that have inoculated us against applying new understandings of the Italian American experience. Obsolete perceptions that continue to camouflage and distort our understanding of the Italian American experience.
My End of Taylor Street.
The Italian American experience I’m most familiar with is the east end of Taylor Street,
the Taylor and Halsted neighborhood…the inner core of the Hull House neighborhood. Like other first generation Italian Americans, my identity was, in-part, the creation of that neighborhood, its people and its institutions. There are frequent references to the “fashioning identities” in describing the Italian American experience. In my end ofTaylor Streetidentities were forged, not fashioned.
Everyone feared the establishment. Come election day, no one believed there was a secret ballot. If you failed to follow the precinct captain’s instructions, at the least, the city building inspectors would become regular visitors to your house.
The 1895 federal census of the number of Italians residing in the inner core of what Jane Addams herself had labeled “The Hull House Neighborhood.” is a reflection of that fear of the establishment. Immigrant Italian would never tell a complete stranger, a government official knocking on their door, how many people were living with them. There were significantly more than the 10,000 people living in those tenement flats than was reported by the census takers. The census, despite its flaws, does describe the neighborhood as being almost entirely Italians, beginning from the river on the east on west to (and through) Halsted Street. Other immigrant groups lived on the outer fringes of the Hull House neighborhood. Jews and Germans lived south ofRoosevelt Road. Irish and French Canadian lived north and northwest of the Greek delta onHarrison Street.
Ironically, hanging in the very same room that displays a map of that 1895 Federal census, is Wallace Kirkland’s equally flawed 1924 classic photograph, “The Hull House Kids.” That picture, depicting twenty boys of supposedly Irish descent posing in the Dante School Yard on Forquer Street (now Arthington Street), circulated around the world as a poster child, of sorts, for the Jane Addams’ Hull House. Imagine, a Federal study, confirming wall-to-wall Italians living on Forquer Street, alongside a picture, taken on Forquer Street, which alleges the twenty Hull House kids to be of Irish ancestry. Those who control the media and the media outlets—in this case, the Hull House Museum–control history, regardless of how empirically flawed that history may be. All twenty boys were first generation Italian Americans…all with vowels at the end of their names. “They grew up to be lawyers and mechanics, sewer workers and dump truck drivers, a candy shop owner, a boxer, and a mob boss.”
There was never any consensus, during those summer evening debates, as to whether or not Mussolini was good for Italy. All I recall from those heated debates was that Mussolini did get the trains to run on time.
Even if you were deaf, you could get the gist of their conversations. The intensity of the body language pretty well conveyed one’s position on whatever the subject matter happened to be. The debates became more intense as the evening wore on and the home made wine began taking its toll. Voices, body language and hand action were raised several decibels. Only when the women broke from their discussions did the forum end. Their beckoning also ended that evening’s street game, whatever it happened to be. We came running, as well. We departed from those evening breezes that were never able to penetrate our tenement flats. Those evening breezes sometimes managed to slithered between the stacked tenement buildings…temporarily benefitting the fortunate few whose mattresses lined the porches and fire escapes during those hot steamy nights
We had our share of profound failures
prophesized by our sociological soothsayers.
As first generation Italian Americans kids, we learned quickly that our world was far removed from that of the major culture. It did not take long for us to sense that we were fenced off from a larger world that was very different from us.
There were books written about blackboard jungles, asphalt jungles and mean streets. One would be hard pressed to find a street more reflective of the combined theme of those novels thanTaylor Street. We had our share of profound failures that were prophesized by our sociological soothsayers.
Jared Diamond’s recent best seller, Guns, Germs and Steel (1997), provided us with an explanation on how physical geography determined the Fates of Societies. The physical geography of Taylor Street had little or nothing to do with our Fate. It was the social geography, framed by the media and implemented by the larger society that determined our Fate.
Willard Motley’s best seller, Knock on Any Door (1949), was a treatise, of sorts, on how social geography determined the fates of individuals within the subcultures of a larger society. Willard Motley picked the right place, Taylor Street, to do his research and expound upon his theory. Motley’s main character, Nick Romano, prophetically, was given an address on Peoria Street.Peoria Street, buried deep within theTaylor Street matrix, has to be in the top stanine of streets whose alumni are serving prison time. We have at least two Peoria Street alumni currently serving terms of life without parole. Both were teenagers when Motley wrote his bestselling novel on how it is that we become what we become. They would not only have been neighbors with Motley’s ill-fated character, Nick Romano, a former choir boy who was sentenced to die in the electric chair, they would have been his teenage peers as well.
Social Athletic Clubs, like fiefdoms, proliferated through the neighborhood. They were really gambling parlors. We bet horses, played pool, shot dice, and played cards until the wee hours of the morning. You were more likely to be identified as a member of one of those clubs than you were with the school you attended or the street you lived on.
How it is that we become what we become? In the Taylor Street Archives is a quote from a sister of one of our club members. I quote: “You guys are so much alike, you would think you all had the same mother.” That statement pretty well summarized growing up in the legendary Taylor Street’s Little Italy.
“You guys are so much alike, you would think you all had the same mother.” Apparently it was the perfect mix of heredity and environment. Confirmation of Edward Wilson’s theory of the biological determinism that exists in ethnic groups, (On Human Nature… confirmation of Jared Diamond’s theory on the Fate of Societies in (Guns, Germs and Steel)… and confirmation of Willard Motley’s social paradigm found in his bestselling novel (Knock on Any Door).
Family Values and the Work Ethic. Redefining Welfare.
Recent works, such as the 2007 WTTW TV documentary, “And They Came to Chicago; the Legacy of Chicago’s Italian Americans,” point with pride toward the family values passed on by our immigrant parents and grandparents. Our writers have championed the “family values” and the “work ethic” mantra of the Italian American since we began writing about our immigrant beginnings. We do so, with passion and conviction. Unfortunately, we do so as if no other ethnic group valued their families or worked for a living.
The Fra Noi, the Near West Gazette, the Amici Journal, and a host of other media outlets regularly contain an article or two in which someone is eulogizing their father or grandfather for teaching them the value of saving for their college education.
My end of Taylor Street was different. There were no college graduates from the 20 square blocks (from the river on the east, Harrison Street on the north and Roosevelt Road on the south) that constituted the Taylor Halsted neighborhood (the Hull House Neighborhood) that I knew and grew up in…other than a Doc Yario or two. The Taylor Street Archives, to date, has no stories about anyone saving for college. We do, however, have stories about guys gambling away their paychecks and paying juice to the loan sharps to cover their misdeeds.
…someone is always eulogizing their father or grandfather for teaching them the value of saving for their college education.
No one that I know of, from my end of Taylor Street, the Taylor Halsted neighborhood, ever mentioned having parents or grandparents saving money as a college fund for any of their children. No one else from my grammar school class even graduated high school. The American Legion award winner from my grammar school class, like Willard Motley’s character in, Knock on Any Door, died before age 21. And it was not from natural causes.
I often read about Italian Americans refusing to accept welfare. That fact is often included in support of the “work ethic” values in which Italian Americans pride themselves. My Little Italy was different. When the Sun Times investigative reporters were on a hunt for city pay rollers, our First Ward political appointees complained bitterly that they had to take a ride their work location to pick up their monthly pay checks. They grudgingly pulled themselves away from their card games and pool tables to pick up their checks. Perhaps we need to assign a broader meaning to welfare when it comes to Taylor Street.
Between and among our city pay-rollers, our mob bosses, our loan sharks, and our bookies, it was difficult to uncover the work ethic that others so passionately described and defended by writers of the Little Italies that they knew. The members of the 42 Gang came from Taylor Street…all 42 of them.Taylor Street was a recruiting ground to fill the positions that the Eighteenth Amendment, the Volstead Act, had created. Other careers having been sealed from us, the illegal bootlegging industry was one of the few options available to a subculture in pursuit of their share of the American Dream. Only the most courageous and talented among us applied.
I suggest to you that the psychological genocide of a people, that media-induced plague, is the unexplored and untold story of the Italian American immigrant.
If Italian Americans were at the bottom rung of the educational ladder, then surely there are greater issues we, as writers, need to uncover, those issues which have a higher priority than stories reminiscing about how we were taught to “save for college.”
If Italian Americans had been excluded from the executive suites, then there is a larger issue to be explored than the “work ethic” we so often boast of in our writings about Italian Americans. Hemingway had better luck finding a leopard on the north slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro than we had finding an Italian in the executive suites of corporate America. Those who were denied access to the American Dream and choose not to remain servants to that Dream, sought unconventional avenues in pursuit of the Promise. Many became entrepreneurs. Was there a biological determinism that we possessed, which genetically programmed us to grab the Dream? “If you do not give, then I must take.”
The politically correct explanation for our shortcomings has been and continues to be the agrarian society from whence we came. I believe otherwise. We were not the only immigrant group that came from a farming culture. Yet, we were the only immigrant group denied its share of the promise. At best, we faced a slippery slope to the American Dream. I suggest that the psychological genocide of a people, that media-induced plague, is the unexplored and untold story of the Italian American immigrant.
No other immigrant group, no other ethnic group, had been so maligned, so vilified by the media as the Italian American people. When the larger society was programmed to reject us, “I detest you people with your greasy hair and your olive oil skin,” (Mario Puzo’s The Godfather) we sought alternative paths in pursuit of the Promise. Taylor Street, as Jared Diamond would have prophesized, evolved into a subculture of entrepreneurs. Some legal…and many not so legal. After all, how many lemonade stands can one neighborhood support?
The media must bear some responsibility for the results of a federally sponsored study (circa 1972) identifying that Italian Americans, as measured by enrollment in college, were at the lowest rung of the educational ladder of all European ethnic groups. A people who spring from the loins of the Caesars and the Michelangelos at the bottom rung of anything should raise some eyebrows.
The Silence was Deafening. Who was Supposed to Watch Out for Us?
Alistair Cooke….A Date that Will Live in Infamy
What is of greater relevance than our Agrarian roots, in denying us the Dream…the Promise, was the Alistair Cookes of the media world. In a nationally televised TV series called, “America: A Personal History of the United States,” which aired in 1972, on a date that will live in infamy, Alistair Cooke announced to the world that Alphonse Capone was representative of the contributions made to America by Italian Americans.
More painful than Alistair Cooke’s words was the silence that followed – the silence of those who were supposed to watch out for us; the silence of those who professed to be the guardians and spokespersons for justice and liberty for all. Not one voice cried shame!
More painful than Alistair Cooke’s words was the silence of those
who were supposed to watch out for us.
During WWII, thousands upon thousands of gold stars hung from the windows in all of the Little Italies scattered throughoutAmerica. One of those gold stars hung on the window of Mrs. Favia, just three doors south of where I lived on Peoria Street, the same street where Willard Motley’s main character lived, the same street that must rank in the top percentile of those serving jail time.
Mrs. Favia’s son, Vito Favia, was killed during the battle forIwo Jima. John Basilone, another son of Italian immigrants, was also killed during the battle for Iwo Jima, as well. Not to take anything away from Vito’s heroic events, which earned him the right to the Silver Cross–which his mother refused and then some–John Basilone was the only enlisted man in WWII to win both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross. The two highest awards given by this country for valor under fire. The two Marines, Vito Favia and John Basilone, both first generation Italian Americans, made the supreme sacrifice in defending America from its enemies and preserving our freedoms.
Let me go a step further in repudiating the Alistair Cookes of this world. Approximately one half-million Italian American warriors fought to preserve those freedoms during WWII—(allegedly, more than any other ethnic group). Ironically, it was their valor that won, for Alistair Cooke, the freedom to announce, on a nationally televised TV program, that Alphonse Capone was representative of the contributions made by the Italian American immigrant.
One must wonder what thoughts ran through the minds of Mrs. Favia, Mrs. Basilone and all those Italian American mothers who had lost their sons in the struggle to defeatAmerica’s enemies when Alistair Cooke announced to the world that Alphonse Capone was representative of the contributions made by Italian Americans. They have no prosthetic for that, you know!
What thoughts must have run through the minds of those Italian American mothers who had their sons returned to them with their arms torn out or their legs blown off, when Alistair Cooke announced to the world that Alphonse Capone was representative of the contributions made by Italian Americans. They have no prosthetic for that, you know!
One must also wonder how painful it must have been, for those families, that not one voice, not one writer of the Italian American experience, not one politician, not one Pulitzer Prize winner, not one Nobel Peace Prize nominee cried shame. Yes, more painful than Alistaire Cooke’s words must have been the silence of our friends….the silence of those who were supposed to watch out for us…the silence of those who had pledged to fight for the rights of those who were too weak, too unsophisticated and too unconnected to fight for themselves. The silence was deafening!
The Jane Addams Hull House Complex:
Melting Pot, Smelting Pot – We Were Virtually Wall-to-Wall Italians.
Our identities were forged by the streets and the institutions that served us. Most important of those institutions that served the Taylor-Halsted neighborhood was the Jane Addams’ Hull House.
I had been the recipient of the influence of those institutions, especially Hull House and the Hull House Summer camp, the Bowen Country Club. Armed with my post graduate courses, as a young man I hired on as a social worker with the Jane Addams’ Hull House. Once a recipient whose identity had been forged by the neighborhood and its institutions, I became a contributor to the fashioning identities of waves of first and second generation Italian Americans that followed me.
Italian Americans dominated the inner core of the Hull House neighborhood. One of the first newspaper articles ever written about Hull House (Chicago Tribune, May 19, 1890) acknowledges the following invitation sent to the residents of the Hull House neighborhood. Written in Italian, it begins with the following salutation: “Mio Carissimo Amico” and is signed, “Le Signorine, Jane Addams and Ellen Starr.”
Records from the Bethlehem-Howell Neighborhood Center further substantiates the observation that, as early as the 1890s, the inner core of “The Hull House Neighborhood,” from the river on the east, Roosevelt Road on the south, Harrison Street on the north, and on out to the neighborhood’s western most boundaries, was virtually all Italians.
The exodus of other ethnic groups dominating the fringes of the Hull House neighborhood began early in the twentieth century. Only their businesses remained: Greek Town and Jew Town (Maxwell Street).
The 1924 historic picture, Meet the ‘Hull House Kids’, was taken by Wallace K. Kirkland Sr., one of the Hull House directors. All twenty kids were first generation Italian Americans, all with vowels at the ends of their names. “They grew up to be lawyers and mechanics, sewer workers and dump truck drivers, a candy shop owner, a boxer and a mob boss.” That picture became a classic and was circulated throughout the world with the twenty Hull House kids falsely described as being of “Irish ancestry.” It served as a poster child for Jane Addams and the Hull House Settlement House. Mr. Kirkland later became a top photographer with Life magazine. During that same time period, Jane Addams was being marketed as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. (Jane Addams was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.)
We would not be true to our profession, as writers and historians, if we did not ask:–what encouraged them, the Hull House establishment, to knowingly alter the ethnic identity of the Hull House Kids?
“I detest you people with your greasy hair and your olive oil skin.” That quote from Mario Puzo’s Godfather trilogy is reflective of how Italian Americans were viewed by society in general. There was no reason to believe that the philanthropists who provided the financial support for the Hull House social experiment thought otherwise. From the beginning of Hull House’s existence in 1889, Italians were being sentenced to death by our courts on the flimsiest of evidence. Also fully documented is the lynching of Italians with impunity. A 1942 Gallup Poll further confirmed the existence of that perception…a perception of Italian Americans that had been and continues to be orchestrated by the media.
So! What encouraged the Hull House establishment to knowingly alter the ethnic identity of the Hull House Kids? Would Hull House have received the necessary financial support, if those philanthropists knew that the inner core of the Hull House neighborhood was primarily Italian-Americans? One could also surmise that Jane Addams would not market well, as a Nobel Peace Prize candidate if it were widely known that the inner core of the Hull House Neighborhood was virtually wall-to-wall Italians. Should these questions, with their many inferences, be included in the history of the Italian American experience? There are many ways to connect the dots.
Fast forward to 2008 and it appears that a similar attempt to disengage and minimize the Italian American experience from Hull House (consciously or unconsciously) is in place by the UIC, guardians of the Hull House Museum. The Museum’s director, to date, has refused every request to include, in the bibliographies of the Hull House Museum or their websites, the writings of those who lived the Italian American experience of growing up in the Hull House neighborhood.
”The Taylor Street Archives is an amazing resource that should be part of
any story we need to tell about the history of this place.” …Lisa Lee, Director, Hull House Museum.
Despite the synergy that existed between Hull House and Taylor Street’s Little Italy, from the beginnings of the Hull House experiment in 1889 until its acquisition by the UIC in 1963, they, the UIC, refuse to make students, researchers, historians, and casual visitors aware of the existence of writers of the Italian American experience. Hence, making them unaware of the people who comprised what Jane Addams called, “The Hull House Neighborhood.”
Lisa Lee, newly assigned Director of theHullHouseMuseum, upon being made aware of the Taylor Street Archives, stated, “The Taylor Street Archives is an amazing resource that should be part of any story we need to tell about the history of this place.”
Despite repeated inquiries, there was no response from the Museum’s administration regarding the request to include, in their massive bibliographies, at least one Italian American writer who lived the experience of growing up in Jane Addams’ Hull House Neighborhood. The arrogance of their refusal, of even a civil response, was interrupted when, a year later, in a published statement made in response to a black community’s history project, Lisa Lee was quoted as saying, “History should include the stories of those who lived it.”
Once again, despite renewed inquiries based upon that quote, there was no response from the director or the UIC administration regarding the request to include a bibliography of Italian American writers who touched upon Jane Addams’ Hull House Neighborhood. “You talk the talk, but do you walk the walk?”
“History should include the stories of those who lived it. ”
You talk the talk, but do you walk the walk.
The Italian American community, once again, is powerless to correct the flawed history of Hull House. It may take another non-Italian to expose the deceit to our heritage and to right another unconscionable wrong. Had this insult been heaped upon any other ethnic group, the community would have called to task both the UIC Chancellor and the assigned UIC staff. Jane Addams herself, were she alive today, would have called them to task.
The Jane Addams’ Hull House Neighborhood served as the laboratory upon which the Hull House cadre of elite sociologists tested their social experiments and based their challenges to the establishment. By omission and commission, the legacy of Taylor Street and the Italian American community that became the laboratory for the Jane Addams and her Hull House colleagues will be flawed. The Director(s) of theHullHouseMuseumwill have knowingly conspired to distort, for future researchers and historians alike, the history of the Jane Addams Hull House. Florence Scala, defender of Taylor Street’s Little Italy, the port-of call-for Chicago’s Italian American immigrants, were she alive today, would redefine the Hull House Mob.
One must wonder how Signorine Jane Addams and Helen Starr would react if they knew that the most recent Hull House Mob was systematically and methodically, with professional impunity, eliminating the residents of her Hull House Neighborhood from the Hull House legacy.
The place of the Italian American community in the history of Jane Addams and the Jane Addams Hull House complex, in a decade or so, like Fennimore Cooper’s Mohicans and the crew of the Herman Melville’s Pequod, will have vanished. Our efforts as writers are meaningless without the media. Those who control the media and media outlets such as the Hull House Museum control our history and our legacy. Our legacy is the sum of our stories. We must not allow others to write our history to their liking.
Prologue: In January 2011, following a presentation made to the UIC Board of Trustees by Vince Romano, Christopher Kennedy, President of the UICBOT, asked that a meeting with the director be held, during which he suggested an accord be reached in which a link to the Hull House Museum web site, “Stories From the Hull House Neighborhood” would allow all ethnic groups to contribute their stories, as well. The director, Lisa Lee, failed to show for the meeting.