Archive Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Title Article: Laugh at Hoboken, and You Laugh at the Real U.S.A. By Rita Christopher. Jerusalem Post (NYT, Op-Ed), Aug. 17, 1980.
Object Name Clipping
Catalog Number 2011.018.0002
Collection Hoboken Buildings & Real Estate Collection
Credit Gift of Florence Moses Katz
Scope & Content Article: Laugh at Hoboken, and You Laugh at the Real [italics] U.S.A. By Rita Christopher.

Facsimile re-print published in The Jerusalem Post (Jerusalem, Israel), Weekly Review (section or pages) of an Opinion Page (Op-Ed) piece originally published in The New York Times, Sunday, August 17, 1980. Jerusalem Post issue date not stated, but presumed to have been published within a week of the NYT's publication.

It is a clipped newspaper leaf (ca. 10" wide x 24-1/2" high) with three NYT op-ed pieces (this article is the bottom one); reverse side of the leaf is part of an article on American television network programming from the same issue of the Times. Both sides carry the NYT dateline in facsimile flanked by "The Jerusalem Post" and "Weekly Review."

See notes.
Notes Op-Ed article by Rita Christopher as published in The New York Times, Sunday, August 17, 1980 and reprinted in facsimile in The Jerusalem Post, Weekly Review, n.d., ca. late August 1980.

Laugh at Hoboken, and You Laugh at the Real U.S.A.

It's happened again, but this time
I'm determined to fight back.
After enduring nearly a decade of
disparaging comments, I will no
longer suffer in silence insults to
Hoboken, land of my mortgage.

I long ago accepted the fact that the
name Hoboken sounds so funny that
even foreigners whose knowledge of
English is limited to such elemental
phrases as Kentucky Fried and Big
Mac laugh uproariously at its mention.

I've learned to smile at Upper East
Side gadabouts who manage a stran-
gled "how interesting" while contem-
plating Hoboken's depressing D.F.B.
distance from Bloomingdale's - a
vital Manhattan statistic.
I wrote no letter of protest when a
magazine article compared the gap
between a used-car pitchman and a
Cadillac, dealer as the difference be-
tween zioboken and Beverly Hills.
And I restrained myself when Lane
Kirkland, in his first speech as the new
president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., laid
down the fascinating geographic
maxim that if you're not in a union,
you're in Hoboken.
But my self-control gave out during
Michigan Congressman Guy Vander
Jagt's keynote address at the Republi-
can National Convention. On prime
time television, in front of Barbara
Walters, Walter Cronkite and the le-
gions of viewers they command
(among them my mother, who always
maintained that she did not send me to
Vassar only to have me end up in
Hoboken), Vander Jagt recounted the
story of his emigrant father's arrival
in the United States. Still clad in the
wooden shoes of his native Holland,
the senior Vander Jagt disembarked,
as thousands of other immigrants
have, on the docks of Hoboken. Three
times Vander Jagt referred to those
docks with the increasingly clear im-
plication that anyone who wanted to
succeed in this country had better get
out of wooden shoes and out of Hobo-
ken.
So it may well come as a surprise to
that seemingly large portion of Amer-
ica that equates Hoboken with No-
wheresville to learn that the city is
flourishing.
Despite the somewhat depressing
fact that our most famous native son,
Frank Sinatra, outrageously prefers to
loll about in Palm Springs rather than

[right column ]
make a return visit to the city of his
birth. Even that cannot dampen local
spirits.
Immigrants continue to stream in,
not only from across the ocean but
from across the Hudson River. New
Yorkers have discovered Hoboken's
solid turn-of-the-century brownstones.
And the newest migrants, with ad-
mirable adaptability, have mastered
such lost urban arts as stoop sitting, an
activity that commences at the first
sign of good weather. Some people
carry out folding chairs; purists sim-
ply plunk themselves down on the con-
crete steps. No dyed-in-the-wool Ho-
bokenite risks sitting in the backyard
and missing all the action on the
street.
Kids still use sewer covers and catch
basins as stickball bases, and women
shout classic messages like "Terence,
your mother wants you!" at a volume
well above the persistent wailing of
disco radio.
Neighbors temper their curiosity
with discretion but local news still
travels at a speed that the post office
would d6 well to emulate. Whatever
vital information is lacking can usu-
ally be picked up at the corner store
where trade in matters of neighbpr-
hood interest rivals the sale of penny
candy, chips, and soda.

On a hot summer day, a Hoboken
block resembles nothing so much as a
fading sepia portrait of a 1940's street
Scene, just waiting the Bing Crosby to
stroll out of the parish house on the
corner.
Hoboken, in fact, not only looks like
the 1940's but in some respects pre-
serves the best of those years. And you
don't have to be a nostalgia buff to
recognize that the decade embodies
some virtues that have disappeared in
much of America. Street crime in
Hoboken is infrequent, and despite our
diverse ethnic backgrounds we ob-
serve the old rule of live-and-let-live.
Our sense of neighborliness and com-
munity loyalty is remarkably high,
and our children, in the traditional but
now half-forgotten phrase, "mind
their parents." If that's Nowheres-ville,
I suspect a lot of Americans
would like to be going nowhere right now.

Rita Christopher is New York
correspondent for Maclean's, the Canadian
news magazine.

People Christopher, Rita
Date 1980
Year Range from 1980.0
Year Range to 1980.0
Search Terms Frank Sinatra
Imagefile 083\20110180002.TIF
Classification Publishing
Newspapers
Social & Personal Activity
Domestic Life
Government & Politics
Real Estate
Towns
Ethnic Culture
Immigration