Chapter 6 1970-73 The Years of Reorganization in Search of a Solution

JN 25Aug17  What 10 days of compiling, writing editing and formatting roughly 8-10 hours each day starting NLT 6 am does . . . Sitting inside with a hat on and one of my favorite pipes which I haven’t lit since we got Andrew in 1989 or since smoking was ruled illegal because it’s bad for my health . . . .

But the productivity has been tiring, but invigorating. Most of the time has been spent parsing vignettes from all of the interviews, surveys, emails, The Bridge Between Facebook group responses, secondary resources, into the three middle chapters dealing with the unique segments of high school experiences we had from 1963-1973.

I’ve said before that, like a couple of you — okay, a few of you? — who’ve said you couldn’t wait to read the book, neither can I. The Table of Contents has morphed again as I began pulling on the threads of your personal experiences memories, perceptions and insights during high school, and those in your adult life. Here’s the latest draft.

Table of Contents (25 August 2017)

CHAPTERS (Working titles)

Chapter 1.       The Bridge Between [STATUS: Shared on Blog.]

SYNPOSIS: Establishes the context for The Bridge Between, especially for readers who don’t have much or any knowledge about Waterloo or Iowa. This was the “Our Town” of our day.

  1. East Side, West Side
  2. The East-West Racial Gap
  3. The East-West Socioeconomic Gap
  4. Waterloo: A Blue-Collar Town

Reflections on the Bridge/on the Theme

Chapter 2.       There Are Blacks in Iowa? [STATUS: Draft completed.]

SYNOPSIS: Explains the East-West king-of-the-hill, social and business rivalries which were endemic to Waterloo from its founding and which had an influence on the lives of those of us who graduated from one of the five Waterloo high schools from 1963-1973. The last third explains how the racial divide between East Side and West came about, and the genesis of the North End, the Black Triangle or Smokey Row on the East Side.

  1. Black Heritage in Iowa
  2. Waterloo and Minorities
  3. Black Migration to Waterloo
  4. The IC Railroad Strike of 1910
  5. The Black Triangle, aka Smokey Row or the North End
  6. Rath Packing Plant Strike in 1947 . . . . Precursor to Activism
  7. The Waterloo Playing Field Was Black & White: School Districts?

Reflections on the Bridge/on the Theme

Chapter 3.       Guess Who’s Coming to Class? [STATUS: Draft completed.]

SYNOPSIS: Our attitudes, opinions and believes about life and race were formed by the time we entered high school. This enculturation was influenced by family, church, experiences. And included how our public or private school elementary and junior high pathways also influenced us. It’s important to understand that no school district ever crossed the Cedar River. Our attitudes, opinions and beliefs were also affected by our first-hand experiences.

  1. The Enculturation of Race
  2. Recognition of Differences in People
  3. The Enculturation of Racial Attitudes
  4. First-Hand Learning Experiences
  5. Reality by the Numbers
  6. Reflections on the Theme or? Reflections on the Bridge

Chapter 4.       1963-66 The Years of Calm Before the Storm [Draft in Progress]

SYNOPSIS: Students’ experiences, perceptions and insights about life and race relations during their three years in the four high schools. (Central didn’t graduate its first class until June 193, the last year of the decade in The Bridge Between.) The common perception was that high school was a “no worries,” fun experience, although the racial gap between friends existed.

  1. High School Perceptions
  2. Racial Relationships
  3. The Racial Divide
  4. Biracial Dating — MOVE TO #5???
  5. The Socioeconomic Divide
  6. The High School Experience

Chapter 5.       1966-70 The Years of Activism & Upheaval [Draft in Progress]

SYNOPSIS: Students’ experiences, perceptions and insights about life and race relations during high school. The common perception, born out by circumstances, was that racial tension had reached the ignition point and activism to create change was the only solution. Perception & folklore vs. Fact

  1. High School Perceptions
  2. Racial Relationships
  3. The Racial Divide
  4. Biracial Dating
  5. 1966 East High Confrontation
  6. 1967 East High Walkout
  7. 1968 Waterloo Riot in the North End
  8. 1970 Wrestling Meet Mêlée
  9. The High School Experience

Racial Bias in High School

Reflections on the Bridge/on the Theme

Chapter 6.       1970-73 The Years of Reorganization in Search of a Solution [Draft in Progress]

SYNOPSIS: Students’ experiences, perceptions and insights about life and race relations during high school. The common perception, born out by school decisions and actions, and subsequent open enrollment allowed Waterloo to dodge the Department of Justice bullet for a systematic pattern of racial segregation using school district boundary lines.

  1. High School Perceptions
  2. Racial Relationships
  3. The Racial Divide
  4. Something
  5. Biracial Dating
  6. 1970 The Bridgeway Project
  7. 1970 Open Enrollment & Busing
  8. 1972 Occupation of the School Superintendent’s Office [STATUS: shared on blog 25 Aug 2017]
  9. The High School Experience

Reflections on the Bridge/on the Theme

Chapter 7.       Lessons Learned & Our Adult Lives [Draft in Progress]

SYNOPSIS: Graduates’ experiences, perceptions and insights about life and race relations after high school. In hindsight 50 years later, what are the perceptions and insights these 1963-1973 Waterloo high school graduates have on the ultimate impact of their high school experiences on their adult lives, especially their interracial relationships and their children’s’ attitudes and behavior.

  1. Life After High School
  2. Racial Relationships
  3. The Racial Divide
  4. Waterloo Through the 50-Year Looking Glass
  5. We’re Not in Iowa Any More, Toto
  6. Everything I Needed to Know About Interracial Relationships I Learned in My High School

Reflections on the Bridge/on the Theme

Chapter 8.       Epilogue [Updated as I work]

SYNOPSIS: Ladies and gentlemen: the story you have read is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty. This is the town. Waterloo, IA. Some people graduated from high school there with pleasure. Some went because they had to and didn’t graduate. You never know. My name’s DeBonis. I graduated from East High in 1966. I was eight years old . . . .

  1. Perspectives: Waterloo 50 years later
  2. The Wisdom of Leon Mosely, Community Activist

Here’s a vignette from the era 1970-73 The Years of Reorganization in Search of a Solution. It’s 24 pages with 1.5 line spacing. And, no, I haven’t calculated into how many book pages that translates. That will depend on the text block on each page, which will be determined by the page size of the book, font and font size, line spacing, etc. For us centenarians, I think an 8×11 page size (think HS annual) with LARGE TYPE and only 4-5 sentences per page would be best. Of course, that will also increase the cost of the book which increases the margin which . . . .

I’d appreciate any and all honest, constructive — ok, or vicious — reactions, feedback, suggestions. I’m still tinkering with how to present all of this information so it flows logically, answers the readers’ questions, is easy to navigate (skim & scan), etc. You can post responses.

Comments can be posted here or, to make sure I see them, email me at drnickdebonis@gmail.com. And always, please feel free to share think blog with any- and everyone.

To read the excerpt, click on it, and it should open in a browser tab. If it doesn’t, try downloading it and opening. It’s a *.pdf format, so it should be accessible to all. If it doesn’t, email me and I’ll send you a link to my OneCloud.

_TBB1_6X3_BLOG EXCERPT WEST JR 1970-73 25Aug17_The Years of Reorganization

I haven’t lived on the southeast coast since I graduated from college in St. Augustine in 1973 in the last millennium, doncha know? I’d forgotten the summer monsoons, particularly in the afternoons. Great time to sit under the patio umbrella and contemplate life. The humidity also keeps my curl hair curled. Have a blessed week.And I hope it exceeds all of your expectations !!!!!!!!!!!!

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Writing Right is a Rite, Wright

There is no such thing as a good writer or writer’s block, in my mind. Even with years of practice, it’s impossible to write the perfect first draft of a news story, a speech, a magazine article, a blog post; you get the picture. (I just changed that sentence twice.) The best writers are actually better editors. Michener always talked about how he would wordsmith a sentence for hours to make sure it connected to the previous sentence and set up the next.  Once done, he didn’t go back.

Writer’s block means that someone can’t write anything. Anyone can write. (I avoided the double negative, “no one can’t write.”) Maybe not write right. My technique when feeling “blocked” is to just start writing. Do a core memory dump about everything I know about catfish farming and then go back and edit it into a centerfold story with pictures in a weekend magazine newspaper insert.

My ability to write right is based on a rite which is uniquely my own, as I told Wright. And when the rite puts you “in the write zone” and everything feels right, as it has this past two weeks, that calls for a “right on.”

During breaks in writing, which is also a right rite for a writer, Wright, I’m pulling together other background material, formatting data, locating and editing photographs and creating maps so that readers have an understanding  of  East and West Side, the black triangle and other landmarks, like the locations of the five Waterloo high schools, Sloane Wallace Stadium where the East-West football games were played during the years covered in The Bridge Between and others. I never knew until a couple of weeks ago when I was mapping the schools that the park across from Columbus was/is called Bontrager Park.

This map is the first draft of describing the location of the 1967 riot on East 4th Street. I bought a used (duh) 1962 city directory on line, and and have used it to verify the location and names of the businesses along the stretch of East 4th which suffered the most damage that week. One of those treasures which pop up occasionally was the stamped name of the directory’s original owner: A.N. Caines, ACLU, in the Black building. Mr. Caines was a member of our church and a friend of my parents. Eerie.

North End Map_Sanborn 1961_BUSINESSES The link below is to a video about the last couple of weeks and some trivia from 1963 when The Bridge Between story begins; 1968, which is in the middle of the decade; and 1973, which is the 10th year. Click on the link and YouTube should open in a separate tab.

LINK:   The Bridge Between Update 20 July 2017

Feedback — good or constructive criticism (is there such a thing as “neutral” feedback?) — is always welcome, here, at my email drnickdebonis@gmail.com or on Facebook, either in The Bridge Between page or as a message.

I hope life continues to bless you.

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What Keeps Me Awake at Night

There are a couple of pieces of information in The Bridge Between which keep me awake at night, because they’ll largely determine whether the book is fiction or non-fiction. OK, I was told a gabazillion times not to exaggerate. These are important data and I’m running them to ground in between the writing.

  1. Smokey’s Row, the Black Triangle, the North End. Among those of you who have said you knew any or all of these names, there’s a wide variation in the name of the area in Waterloo where blacks lived in Waterloo before, during and after the 1963-73 decade and, more importantly, the boundaries which define its size. Secondary resources ranging from the state archives to official reports and research papers about the origin of the black community to newspaper accounts also have a disparity of information about both. After cadging all of the data together, here’s the map which is currently in the draft of Chapter 2 There are Blacks in Iowa? As always, any constructive feedback or criticism is appreciated . . . and the best place to make sure I see it is to me reply to the email from drnickdebonis@gmail.com which has this blog’s link in it.

Smokey Row_North End_11Jul17.png

2. The second major unverified “fact” in dispute is whether the Waterloo school board from 1963-1973 was elected by district or at-large. And if there were districts, where were they and did they change during that 10 years? This is relevant to establishing an important context for Chapter 5 The Years of Activism (1967-70) and Chapter 6 The Years of Discord (1970-73). I’ve been bugging the school district, which has been responsive to a fault, but we’re talking ancient archives in the same vein as the Dead Sea scrolls. Newspaper reports of candidates filing for the seats and the election reports themselves aren’t providing many clues. If you’re an explorer/researcher, any and all assistance is appreciated.

Finally, there have been a number of people who have come forward in the last week to participate. I’m working to get all of you . . . or “them” if you’ve already participated or decided to wait until the book comes out . . . before the end of the week. There may be some spillover into next week. But now that my wife’s business website has launched — http://www.flair-southern-style.com — it’s back to writing as long as I can sit and stay awake . . . .

Hope your week exceeds all of your expectations. And when someone asks us locally how things are going, the only honest response in, “Just another day in paradise.”

Toes in the Water Mar2017   Nick

UPDATE: The Bridge Between

Good Friday afternoon from the Golden Isles of Georgia. The writing of The Bridge Between (TBB) has been going well the past two weeks, with the usual breaks for life’s little unplanned and planned interruptions, and breaks to rest the mind mentally and the legs cramped from sitting on the beach. Chapter 3 is in draft form, and I’ve started sorting your contributions into chapters 4, 5 and 6. That will help me discover the themes in them. 

I’m closing off phone conversations next week so that I can concentrate on writing those “meaty” chapters. While it will still be possible to shoe-horn later conversations into the chapters later, trying to do that while staying focused on the road map for the chapter is a fools’ exercise. If you graduated from one of the five Waterloo, IA,  [TRIVIA ALERT: There are 30 places in the U.S. named Waterloo and I’ve heard from people in a number of them] high schools from 1963-1973 and would like to be one of the contributors. contact me at drnickdebonis@gmail.com or Nicholas DeBonis on Facebook or @DrNick48 on Twitter. Let me know three days next week and the time for each that would be optimal for you and I’ll call. If there’s a conflict with all three, I’ll call and we’ll make an appointment that does work. And pass this information along to anyone you know who graduated during those 10 years and I’ll schedule them as well. 

I’m including the opening paragraphs for Chapter Two There are Blacks in Iowa? and Chapter 3 Guess Who’s Coming to School to provide a look at where the chapters are heading. Chapter Two is still historical background, but with your comments added where relevant.  Chapter 3, without counting words, is probably 90% what people contributed.

Feedback about spelling and grammar are appreciated. I’m an experienced and competent editor, but it’s tougher when you’re editing your own work — you can read things the way you know they should be and miss the way they’re actually written.

Chapter 2 There are Blacks in Iowa?

Iowa. That’s where the potatoes come from, right? – Typical response received by a number Waterloo high school graduates when meeting people not familiar with the state.

My wife was from Southern California and when I started going out there with her, people didn’t know what to say to me. They imagined I lived on a farm. That there was a lot of corn. And nobody from her family would ever visit us until we had kids. They were surprised by what they saw when they did. [WHS 69 white male]

There are blacks in Iowa?Response to a black Waterloo high school graduate introducing herself to people in another state

When I tell people where I’m from, they imagine a white environment. They shake their heads. “Are there whites in Waterloo?” If you only knew. Come to my town and see it ain’t all white. [EHS 73 black male]

The East-West crosstown rivalry began when the town was settled on both sides of the Cedar River. That natural divide became an artificial political and social demarcation which has reverberated in the town through the decades.

There was East-West competition for government buildings, schools and a library. Business also contributed to crosstown competitiveness.

The West Side became affluent, more sophisticated socially, which fostered a sense of arrogance among its residents that was noted by Eastsiders. The East Side was the blue-collar, middle class section of Waterloo, a distinction which engendered its own pride.

Race, racial tension and racial issues with which we high school students in Waterloo 1963-1973 experienced were fated before, during and after that decade. They were foreordained by the influx of black strikebreakers primarily from the South into Waterloo as a result of the 1910 railroad strike. The social and civil rights restrictions imposed on the black strikebreakers was a catalyst for later local unrest like the strike at the Rath Packing plant in the 1940s. Housing covenants and redlining in the 1950s and 60s continued to add to the permanent, scarring dimension of racial separation between the East and West sides.

Guess Who’s Coming to School?

African Americans in the North lived in a strange state of semi-freedom. The North may had emancipated its slaves, but it was not ready to treat the blacks as citizens. . . or sometimes even as human beings.[i] — Africans in America (PBS)

Put 10 healthy babies with the same birthdate from 10 different ethnicities and cultures in a bassinette row, and the only differences between them would be physical appearance. What are the odds that any of us could correctly identify the race or ethnicity and culture of any of them? They all make the same noises, the same kinetic movements, their eyes track bright objects in the same way, they respond to tactile and aural stimuli the same way. “. . . babies the world over, each exposed to thousands of disparate languages from birth, reward their mothers with roughly the same first word starting with the letter ‘m’. . . .”[ii] “. . . the genetic difference between individual humans today is minuscule – about 0.1%, on average. . . .”[iii] “Ultimately, there is so much ambiguity between the races, and so much variation within them, that two people of European descent may be more genetically similar to an Asian person than they are to each other.”[iv]

Babies are race and ethnic and culture and skin-color-blind.

That’s an extremely simplistic explanation, but it sets up an understanding that babies begin to recognize familiar faces and different ones as early as three months old. And by four months, their “brains already process faces at nearly adult levels. . . .”[v]

Awareness of differences between self and others is inevitable; humans are different in myriad ways. Many of us remember our first experiences of recognizing these differences and even pointing them out. For example, recognition of skin-color differences happens at a younger age for some than for others.

Our individual attitudes, opinions and beliefs (behavioral dispositions)[vi] about differences become more or less important or unimportant to us because of learning and reinforcement, positive, neutral or negative.

This learning process includes both enculturation – how the values and norms of a society are passed on to or acquired by its members without direct, deliberate teaching — and socialization – deliberate learning promoted by family; social groups like peers and churches; schools, including our elementary and junior high pathways to high school; and the mass media.[vii] While enculturation and socialization are somewhat vicarious, our behavioral dispositions are also affected by our first-hand experiences.

By the time we entered high school, our behavioral dispositions about race and ethnicity were already formed.

[i] Race-based legislation in the North 1807 – 1850. People & Events. PBS: Africans in America. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4p2957.html. Africans in America Narrative Writers. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/credits.html.

[ii] Why every baby around the world’s first word starts with the letter M. (September 16, 2016). Quartz: Tongue Ties. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/y9shreo8.

[iii] Genetic Evidence: DNA. What does it mean to be Human? Human Evolution Research. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Retrieved from http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/genetics.

[iv] How Science and Genetics are Reshaping the Race Debate of the 21st Century. (April 17, 2017). Chou, V. Science in the News. Harvard University: The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved from http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2017/science-genetics-reshaping-race-debate-21st-century/.

[v] Infants process faces long before they recognize other objects, Stanford vision researchers find. (December 11, 2012). McClure, M. Stanford University: The Stanford Report. Retrieved from http://news.stanford.edu/news/2012/december/infants-process-faces-121112.html.

[vi] ”Behavioral dispositions” refer to tendencies, acquired in socialization, toward particular acts, such as evaluating or acting toward a particular object, e.g., person, or a particular process. They’re forces that channel consequences like human perception, categorization, organization or choice, for example. A Theoretical Note on the Differences between Attitudes, Opinions, and Values. (1998). Bergman, M.M. Swiss Political Science Review, 4(2), pp. 81-93. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/j.1662-6370.1998.tb00239.x/pdf.

[vii] Enculturation. Sociology Index. Retrieved from http://sociologyindex.com/enculturation.htm. Enculturation and Socialization: Expert Answer. (13/6/10). Rawat, P. Ask & Answer: meritnation. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/ycuavsqm.

I hope that the rest of the summer exceeds all of your needs and expectations. Remember, “life’s what happens when we’re busy making other plans.” (John Lennon)

nick, East 66 [100th graduating class of Troy]

Toes in the Water Mar2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bridge Between Table of Contents

The first draft of The Bridge Between (TBB) chapter two has been completed. Editing will start on Friday, even though I did a good bit during the writing process. Friday’s edit will be to read the content objectively for flow, style, misspellings (which is one of the top 3 misspelled words in English), continuity and consistency, and typos.

I’ve revised the Table of Contents this past week as a result of contemplative breaks, musing at bedtime, in the shower, driving . . . . A project like this one which is under the skin is always top of mind. Here’s the latest version which, other than a little tweaking, is probably close to a final road map through TBB.

Table of Contents

FRONT MATTER [Traditional; will probably shorten]

  • Half title page [title only]
  • Blank (or Also by the author)
  • Title page
  • Copyright
  • Dedication
  • Foreword

CHAPTERS (Working titles)

Chapter 1 The Bridge Between

SYNOPSIS: Establishes the context for The Bridge Between, especially for readers who don’t have much or any knowledge about Waterloo or Iowa. This was the “Our Town” of our day.

  • Waterloo, Iowa
  • East Side, West Side
  • Segregated by a River

Chapter 2 There Are Blacks in Iowa?

SYNOPSIS: Explains the East-West king-of-the-hill, social and business rivalries which were endemic to Waterloo from its founding and which had an influence on the lives of those of us who graduated from one of the five Waterloo high schools from 1963-1973. The last third explains how the racial divide between East Side and West came about, and the genesis of the North End, the Black Triangle or Smokey Row on the East Side.

  1. Genesis of the Racial Divide
  2. Racial Enculturation: learning about skin color
  3. The Civil Rights Movement in Waterloo

Chapter 3 Guess Who’s Coming to School (To Class)?

SYNOPSIS: Our attitudes, opinions and believes about life and race were formed by the time we entered high school. These were influenced by family, church, experiences, which graduates share. Insights are also shared about how our public or private school elementary and junior high pathways also influenced us. And no school district ever crossed the Cedar River.

  1. Recognition of color differences
  2. Family influences on racial understanding
  3. Experiential influences on racial understanding

Chapter 4 Years of Status Quo: Life as a High School Student Pre-1967

  1. Students’ experiences, perceptions and insights about life and race relations during their three years in the four high schools. (Central didn’t graduate its first class until June 193, the last year of the decade in The Bridge Between.)
  2. The common perception was that high school was a “no worries,” fun experience, although the racial gap between friends existed.

Chapter 5 Years of Activism: Life as a High School Student 1967-1970

  1. Students’ experiences, perceptions and insights about life and race relations during high school
  2. The common perception, born out by circumstances, was that racial tension had reached the ignition point and activism to create change was the only solution.

Chapter 6 Years of Discord: Life as a High School Student Post-1970

  1. Students’ experiences, perceptions and insights about life and race relations during high school
  2. The common perception, born out by school decisions and actions, and subsequent open enrollment allowed Waterloo to dodge the Department of Justice bullet for a systematic pattern of racial segregation through the use of school district boundary lines.

Chapter 7 Adult Lives and Lessons Learned

  1. Graduates’ experiences, perceptions and insights about life and race relations after high school.
  2. In hindsight 50 years later, what are the perceptions and insights these 1963-1973 Waterloo high school graduates have on the ultimate impact of their high school experiences on their adult lives, especially their interracial relationships and their children’s’ attitudes and behavior.

UNNAMED: Any suggestions?

SYNOPSIS: Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to read is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty. This is the town. Waterloo, IA. Some people graduated from high school there with pleasure. Some went because they had to and didn’t graduate. You never know. My name’s DeBonis. I walked at the 100th East High graduation in 1966. I was eight years old . . . .

BACK MATTER [traditional, but optional, could be collapsed, deleted]

  1. Acknowledgments
  2. List of Kickstarter contributors
  3. Bibliography, reference list
  4. Author’s bio

Feedback is welcome on the blog or by email to drnick31522@gmail.com.

Traveling tomorrow. Until the next blog. remember, the wet bird never flies at night. . . .  Signature INITIALS

Chapter 1 The Bridge Between

City of Waterloo

The Atlantic couldn’t separate the East & West Side any more than the Cedar (River) does. – Anecdotal Waterloo metaphor

Prairie Rapids or Prairie Rapids Crossing was settled in 1846 in Black Hawk County, IA, at a site which provided good fording of the Cedar River near what became 4th street in Waterloo.

From its inception, the settlement was not only physically divided by the river, but it was divided from the outset into East Side and West Side by a natural a social and economic competitiveness. As the town developed, the West Side acquired the cachet of greater affluence, while the East Side attracted more industrial development and working-class houses.[1]

The East and West Side designations are an historical oddity whose reason is lost in time, since the Cedar River runs through the town from northwest to southeast, dividing it into north and south sides.

The town presented a petition for a post office in 1850 to the Cedar Falls postmaster six miles up-river, since it had a post office. No name was listed on the petition, which was required. Local folklore says he looked through a list of current U.S. post offices there, saw and liked the name “Waterloo,” verified there wasn’t one in the state and wrote it on the petition. The post office and the name was approved by the U.S. Postal Service.[2]

The location of the county courthouse in Waterloo was another of the early contentious issues for the East and West Sides.

When Black Hawk County was sufficiently populated to set up its own administration in 1853, Cedar Falls was larger than Waterloo became the county seat. Two years later, Waterloo boosters convinced the Iowa legislature that Cedar Falls wasn’t as centrally located as their town and that Waterloo was growing more quickly. Waterloo was chosen as the new Black Hawk County seat by a vote of 388 to 260 April 2, 1855.

Interests of those on both sides of the Cedar River resulted in a disagreement about where the courthouse would be built. A vote was set up for December with an odd ballot choice:  Voters could either select the East Side or the side that would pay the most money for the location and erection of county buildings. Cedar Falls voters formed an almost unanimous voting coalition with the East Side in retaliation against and attempt to reduce the local influence of West Side business interests which had petitioned the legislature to allow the county seat election. The East Side got the courthouse on a 467-264 vote.[3]

In the late 1800s, local architect Charles Mulford Robinson summed up the community rivalry. “Waterloo was a town not joined, but divided by the Cedar River. There seems to be only one danger that seriously threatens the advance of Waterloo in municipal aesthetics and effectiveness. That is the lack of complete union between the East Side and the West, of the whole-souled cooperation which forges itself in the greatness of a common task.”[4]

When Andrew Carnegie offered Waterloo a $30,000 grant for a library in 1902, the East and West Side factions disagreed on its location for two years. Carnegie heard of the feud and reportedly suggested the library be built in the middle of the river to resolve the dispute. The mayor suggested building it on the Fourth Street Bridge, which hadn’t been completed.[5] Carnegie increased his donation to allow the town to build two libraries; Waterloo was the only city to receive funds for two full libraries. Not coincidentally, they were both dedicated on the same day in February 1906.

Public schools are an extension of the relationship of the symbiotic political and social structures in a community. It’s often difficult to separate the influences of the two.

The East-West rivalry extended to Waterloo schools also from the start. The first school house was built in on the West Side in the spring of 1853; the first east-side school opened the next year. Children were schooled on their own side of the Cedar River even after the first bridge was built in 1859.

“The location of neighborhood schools thus became an issue more politically charged than usual.”[6] A large three-story brick school was built on the West Side in 1860 despite the fact that the East Side school was overcrowded due from population growth in the industrial sector on Its side of the river.  “. . . the affluent West Side received the new facilities, it seemed.” [7] A new school was built on the East Side four years later.

Two years after that, In March 1866, East-Side residents petitioned “for a school district of their own, independent from the existing, west-dominated district. West-Side citizens opposed the split, but when the ballot was held on March 19, heavy rains and flooding on the Cedar prevented most of the West-siders from reaching the East Side polling place. As a result, the measure passed overwhelmingly. The Independent District of East Waterloo was formed; the West Side schools were organized into the Waterloo School District.” [8] The two districts operated autonomously 76 years before consolidating 1942.

East Side, West Side

Very few of us have a choice about where we grow up and attend school. We’re subject to our parents’ decision. Their choice unquestionably has an impact on our life experiences, friendships and education, all of which continue to influence us during our adult lives.

Growing up and going to school on the East Side or the West Side of the Cedar River had such and influence.

The Divide

Waterloo was a very divided city. [West 71 white female]

We were a town split down the middle. [WHS 70 white female.]

Waterloo is a segregated City separated by the Cedar River. And you went to school on one side of the river the other. That’s the way it was. [WHS 69 white male]

The East-West issue was just always there. And a source of frustration, anger and bitterness. [East 66 black female]

Socioeconomic Divide

I have often described myself as ‘growing up poor on the East Side of Waterloo’ and that we had a river in Waterloo instead of tracks and I grew up on the wrong side of the river. [EHS 67 white male]

My personal feeling was we on the East Side were poor or working class, black and white, and those on the West Side were members of the upper crust. We didn’t mix with the West Side people. [East 68 white female]

The East Side was the poorer side, but the West students were snobs. [EHS 66 white female]

When we moved to Waterloo, my parents bought on the East Side rather than the West Side because it was affordable. And they told me that I would be going to a school where there would be black people. I felt like there was a snobbishness on the part on the West Side toward the East Side, although I really didn’t think about why. Personal perceptions, I guess. They on the West Side were elite in their white environment and didn’t have to live next to black people or have their kids go to school with blacks.[EHS 66 white female]

People in Waterloo looked down their noses at people from the East Side. You were either black or poor. From the bad side of town, the other side of the tracks. The people on the West Side were more affluent for the most part. And more proud of themselves, I guess, for who they were and where they lived. People on the East Side were a lot more down to earth and friendlier. [EHS 67 white female]

The typical stereotype was that West students had more money and were stuck up. Not always true in either case. The East students were more middle class and lower class and not as stuck up. Probably not true either. [WHS 69 white female]

My parents’ families moved from East to West Waterloo when they were in Jr high and high school, to improve their lives, I assume as part of the white flight. As West Side residents, we thought we were better, black or white. “West is best, East is least, Columbus doesn’t even rate” was the expression. On KWWL evening news, describing events as “in the North End” was code for blacks involved. [WHS 70 white male]

I had twin cousins at West High who were a year ahead of me and they’d take me along to some of their parties. I got the treatment from their friends for being from the East Side. I was the “poor cousin from the other side of the tracks” and, since I went to East High, I was an “easy woman.” It worked out fine once they got to know me. My cousins didn’t have any more money than we did, but I was a poor white girl from the East Side with whom they wanted to share their parties. [EHS 66 white female]

Blue Collar Town

There was always a perception that East Side people were a little rougher, not quite as elite socially. (10:15). [EHS 66 white male]

Iowans familiar with Waterloo always referred to it as a rough blue-collar town. But when I was growing up on the West Side, I assumed that my life was normal and didn’t view it as a blue-collar town. I could walk anywhere I wanted to. I walked to school. Until I went to West High, I didn’t realize that there were such large homes in Waterloo. Like the homes on prospect Boulevard. I’d never been exposed to professional people. So, when people would call Waterloo that blue-collar town, I’d just smile and say, “Yah, but it was a great place to grow up.” [WHS 67 white male]

The Racial Divide

Almost all of the blacks in Waterloo lived on the East Side and attended East High. West was predominantly a white kids’ school. I think there were one or two black kids in my graduating class. [West 71 white female]

The Cedar River always had that stigma when I was growing up. That was the West Side, this was the East Side. That blacks weren’t welcome on the West Side. I don’t know why or where it came from. It was like the “have” and “have nots.” [EHS 89 black male]

I always thought the West Side was where the rich people lived and the east was for the middle class and poor people. [EHS 73 white female]

The East Side was a good place to come from, although I lived in Evansdale and didn’t have much interaction with city people until was bused to East. It was a good learning experience for me. [EHS 66 white female]

The Cedar Falls Effect

My ex-husband always told my in-laws I was from the wrong side of the tracks. It didn’t make any difference to my friends that I was from the East Side of one of those. Friends in Cedar Falls said, “There’s no way I would live in Waterloo. I heard that all the time.” [EHS 66 white female]

People in Cedar Falls looked down on people in Waterloo, partly because of the university there. They saw themselves as more white and middle class, better, safer, richer, more educated than Waterloo. They thought of Waterloo as rowdier, more violent because of the racial mix. [WHS 69 white male]

Waterloo always has been and still is a second-class citizen in the minds of the people from Cedar Falls. It’s primarily white. The racial makeup of Waterloo had something to do with the attitudes of paper people from Cedar Falls. Although there are a lot of ethnicities in Cedar Falls particularly because of the University. [WHS 69 white male])

Final Thoughts

After we moved to the West Side, my dad always made us wait until we’d crossed the bridge from the East Side to throw the apple cores out the window. We were Eastsiders. The whole time we lived on the West Side my dad refused to buy a power mower. He used to push a mower because “I’m an Eastsider.” [CEN 73 white female]

My father always told me the “East Side” was actually the North Side. [EHS 66 white female]

Segregated by the Cedar River

Downtown Waterloo was laid out with the numbered streets running north-south and the east-west roads bearing names. The numbered streets’ names began with “East” or “West” based on which side of the Cedar they were located. This general checkerboard grid was similar to the one used by the agrarian state of Iowa in which county roads ran north-south and east-west, and were a mile apart.

The first bridge built between the East and the West Sides of Waterloo was in 1859. The 4th Street bridge was built in 1872 just east of the falls and was the main road for crossing the Cedar River through downtown Waterloo. The 5th Street bridge in 1908. The original Mullan Avenue bridge one black west of 1st Street was erected in 1913. A bridge was put in on 18th street adjacent to the Rath Packing Plant in 1931. For years one of the largest employers in the town, Rath opened in 1881, but ceased operations in 1984. Park Avenue was tucked in between 3rd and 4th streets and gained a bridge in 1938. The 11th Street Bridge was built in 1953. And the 1st Street Bridge in 1967.[9]

By the 1960s, there were eight different routes across the Cedar River between the East Side and the West Side.

But the division between the two communities continued to grow.

Exacerbating the schism was the influx of black strikebreakers in 1910 primarily from the South who were sequestered in a section of the East Side adjacent to the Illinois Central rail yard where they were working. The blacks remained socially quarantined in the North End until well into the 1960s.

ENDNOTES [UPDATE, CORRECT, CONSISTENCY]

[1] Roosevelt Elementary School, U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service: National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, section 8, p. 10. Retrieved from http://focus.nps.gov/pdfhost/docs/NRHP/Text/04001402.pdf.

[2] Among the sources: Waterloo, IA. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterloo,_Iowa.

[3] Veeder, G., County Auditor. (February 2011). Black Hawk County Courthouse History. Retrieved from http://www.co.black-hawk.ia.us/DocumentCenter/View/565

[4] Roosevelt Elementary School, U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service: National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, section 8, p. 10. Retrieved from http://focus.nps.gov/pdfhost/docs/NRHP/Text/04001402.pdf.

[5] Brief History of Black Hawk County. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/zoqxmhz.

[6] Brief History of Black Hawk County. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/zoqxmhz.

[7] Roosevelt Elementary School, Ibid., section 8, pp. 11.

[8] Roosevelt Elementary School, Ibid.

[9] Thanks to Steve Walker of the Waterloo Engineering Department for providing dates for the 11th and 1st Stree bridges. Primary online source: Historic and Notable Bridges of the U.S. Retrieved from https://bridgehunter.com/category/city/waterloo-iowa/.