Saturday, August 8, 2015

Queens County Revisited: The 1970's (34)

Barry was a mixed bag culturally and politically in the 1970's. On the one hand, he was the son of a retired New York City cop who, also being a hard-core Zionist, had moved to Palestine/Israel a few years after the Israeli government's military victory in its June 1967 war--despite being born in either Europe or the United States rather than in Palestine--following his retirement from the NYPD. On the other hand, Barry was somewhat counter-cultural in his lifestyle, did not support the U.S. government's military intervention in Vietnam in the 1960's, played the guitar well enough to have performed at some Zionist-sponsored coffeehouses in Queens and in Tel Aviv during the late 1960's and early 1970's and smoked pot. In addition, he also preferred to get his survival bread by doing blue-collar work during the day as a delivery truck driver in Queens who did not have to dress up each day--rather than by trying to get some white collar job in some Manhattan office building in which he'd have to dress up in a suit and tie each workday and be stuck inside a 9-to-5 office cubicle.

Like me, Barry's childhood had been spent growing up in a Queens neighborhood in which most families were of Jewish religious background. But unlike me, Barry had not lived in the Midwest during his teenage years. And practically nobody who grew up during the 1950's and early 1960's in a Queens neighborhood in which most families were of Jewish religious background had fathers who were cops, since--for historical reasons--people of Jewish religious background in New York City tended to see NYPD cops (who were then mostly white men who were Irish-Americans or Irish immigrants in background), as either men who held low-status, unattractive--but necessary--jobs or as agents of oppression.

Because his father was also a hard-core Zionist, Barry--unlike me--had apparently gone to Zionist day camps or Zionist sleep-away camps (rather than to non-Zionist Boy Scout sleep-away camps like I had), as a child. And during his teenage years Barry had, during his after-school weekday hours and weekends, been involved in some Zionist teenage groups in Queens.

So by the time Barry enrolled as a commuter student in Queens College in the late 1960's, he already was part of some social network of Zionist teenagers from which he obtained what he described in the 1970's as "his bull pen" of "chicks;" who apparently were often initially attracted to him after they heard him play his guitar and sing Israeli folk songs or covers of 1960's folk and pop songs at Zionist-sponsored social gatherings or coffeehouses.