Friday, February 9, 2018

A Silver Golf Trophy and Prejudice



What does a silver golf trophy have to do with prejudice?




I'm not talking about the prejudice some people have against the scent of hyacinths. Really, some people hate it.

I happen to love their scent, and one gift I can count on getting from RH in February is a potted purple hyacinth.

Even if I have to remind him.




And I'm not talking about the prejudice that most designers have against keeping the pretty paper they come wrapped in.

I realize that's supposed to be removed and moss draped artistically across the top instead. 




The prejudice I'm speaking of here is one I hope no longer exists today, not in this country.

When I spotted a tarnished silver golf trophy at a thrift store a couple of years ago when we were living in Florida, I quickly put it in my basket. It was half price Saturday and only $12.

When I got home and polished it I was able to make out the inscription on it:


Beauclerc Country Club
Golf Champions
Husband-Wife
1958

Away to Google I went and discovered that the Beauclerc Country Club was a historic Jewish country club in nearby Jacksonville. 

I immediately remembered a movie starring Gregory Peck where he was a journalist assigned to cover the subject of whether there was antisemitism in New York City.

Surely not, he felt. But once he went undercover, pretending to be Jewish himself, he found it everywhere including in Darien, Connecticut, the home of his new fiancée played by Dorothy McGuire.

One scene in the movie particularly surprised me. When Peck's character tries to register at a nice hotel he finds there are suddenly no rooms available to him. 

When I began researching the history of the Beauclerc community and the country club there, I found out that it was first established because the San Jose Country Club nearby would not accept Jews for membership.

Disturbing, isn't it? 

I hope that the movie Gregory Peck starred in in 1947, Gentleman's Agreement, helped change some of the prejudices in our country then. It was nominated for eight Oscars and won Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Celeste Holmes), and Best Director (Elia Kazan).

I guess prejudices will always be with us. 

Hopefully not as much as in 1947. 








4 comments:

  1. Gentleman's Agreement is one of my favorite movies. I love Gregory Peck.
    I didn't know as a child so much about the anti Semitism people faced.
    but having lived in some parts of the south growing up I remember seeing the signs "white drinking fountain" and things like that.
    and the confusing sign to me as a child was always this one in a restaurant.
    "we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone."
    it was a polite way of telling those of color to get out. to stay away.
    to not even try. (recall the restaurant in Giant?) what a scene it was.
    I remember asking my parents once... how do they take a vacation? how do they know where they will be welcome? I couldn't even imagine it.
    a little child already worried and knowing it wasn't and will never be right in ANY form or era.
    this is a beautiful post in so many ways.
    and I LIKE the paper! phooey on moss! XOXO♥

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  2. I think you were much more sensitive and aware to these things as a child than I was, Tammy, I'm very sorry to say. Perhaps because you lived all over the place, not just the South. To someone like me, born and raised in the South except for WW II years when my mother and I followed my father from Air Force base to base, all of the horrible signs were just something I accepted as part of my world, not that my parents ever ever spoke or acted as if they should be there. It just wasn't talked about. As I've said before, I was wrapped in a cocoon of white wool and it seemed normal. But then it also seemed normal when I was a senior in high school and the times were changing, that things needed to change, had to change, why did it take so long and move so slow?

    Yes, Rock Hudson winning his wife's pride in him for fighting Sarge in his cafe is a memorable moment. And one that is not in the book, at least Rock is not present then. Sometimes movies are better, in spots, than the book.

    I want to find the book Gentleman's Agreement now and see how close to it the movie came. And to find out if the book also exposed the pervasive prejudice in Darien, Connecticut.

    But then I always want to read the book if the movie came from one!

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  3. A very meaningful and timely post, Dewena. From reading your exchange with Tam, above, I realized that growing up, we NEVER had any such signs. Canada was always looking for new immigrants to populate its vast square footage, and as far as I can remember, everyone from ever corner of the world was welcomed. My grandfather emigrated to Toronto in the late 50s, and I am so grateful for his decision.

    Having said that, recently, believe it or not, there have been some instances of racial discrimination in my country of birth, and for this, I am very saddened.

    I am not familiar with the films that you and Tam speak of, but I'm sure they are wonderful.

    It's a funny and freaky world we live in, isn't it?

    xoxo
    Poppy
    P.S. Your purple hyacinths are so pretty, ESPECIALLY wrapped in that polka dotted pink wrapping paper and placed in that beautiful golf trophy, shining with history.

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    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you like the golf trophy, Poppy! I was charmed by it when I found it.

      I have hope that eventually children, or their children, will grow up without the prejudices of the past. I see my little granddaughters in church or school or neighborhood playing with children of other colors and not even noticing any difference. Won't it be a grand thing when that happens in succeeding generations?

      That will happen except for the adults who hand down their prejudices. Remember the line in the song in South Pacific about that? "They have to be carefully taught."

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