Social and Political Commentary

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Discrimination
  goes big bucks

by Don Norris

Editor's note: The following two brief notes, reflecting life in Melrose over the years, appeared on the electronic bulletin board called the "49ers" -- after those Melrose High graduates of 1949. The initial thought is supplied by Dr. Donald F. Morrison, recently retired from the faculty of the Wharton School, to classmate Donald R. Norris -- who happens to be one of six editors of the SilverStringers' Melrose Mirror. Reference is to an article on discrimation in Melrose, written by SilverStringer Marjorie Burgess, in the October issue.

Dear Don:

In the '50s we had a good friend  whose parents had emigrated to the U.S. from Sicily. He went into business for himself, prospered, and decided to buy a home in Melrose. He was interested in a house on Lovell Rd, and approached the broker. "We don't sell  houses on Lovell Rd. to Italians," said the well-known  realtor. "Well, I AM a Mason,"  replied our friend. The realtor answered with something along the line, "Perhaps that might make a difference ..."  Our friend  got the message, and bought  an attractive home in Reading  instead.

Donald F. Morrison


Dear Don (and other 49ers):

Ah, your point on selling to Italians in the '50s is well taken.

But today Melrose is an entirely different place. Today, we refuse to sell houses on most any street to tall, blond and retiring academics. It is just a matter of choice of what or who is "in", at the moment. Smile.

As a matter of fact, we are now accomplishing discrimation by more subtle means. We are simply PRICING undesireables out of the market. For example, today my simple little Cape Cod ("Designed by Royal Barry Wills" he said, looking down his nose) would sell for a measely quarter mil, although we only paid $14,200 as newly-weds in 1956.

The problem is obvious. We would like to move to Winchester, but they too have endorsed the dollar-exclusivity clause, and we probably would have to pay at least half a million, would that our RBW Cape have been built in that sacred territory.

Now the realtor can straight-forwardly say, I'm sorry, Mr. Norris, you don't have enough money to move up to Winchester. So much for protestants.

Today, Melrose dotes on highly visible and identifiable Social Democrats. Gone are the days when everyone associated with Melrose politics was a Republican. Equality, as in the French Revolution, is the code-word.

And so today, anyone can buy a house in Melrose, and there are commissions to see that this line of thinking is upheld, openly. Thai, African, Sumatran, Mediterranean, Islander of ANY sorts -- all can buy a home here -- IF they have the big bucks. We no longer discriminate for We Are The Democrats!

Don.

November 3, 2,000


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