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Stevens Point Journal from Stevens Point, Wisconsin • Page 23
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Stevens Point Journal from Stevens Point, Wisconsin • Page 23

Stevens Point, Wisconsin
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Stevens Point (Wis.) Journal 'Polish Broadway' changed By DOUGLAS E. KNEELAND They did not of course. More Poles who has been in the 80-year-old family Douglas I. Framness, D.C. CHIROPRACTOR FRAMNESS CHIROPRACTIC OFFICES 1903 Green Drive Plover Phone 341-8311 Wednesday, June 10, 1981 two-family homes that has been drawing increasing numbers of upwardly mobile Puerto Ricans, Mexicans and Cubans. "My father worked in the fields of Pennsylvania, New York and Michigan and worked here as a dishwasher for years and I was born here and have lived here ever since," Claudio said. "I think we have made our last stop in the place where we live now. We feel comfortable and safe." He said he feels no ethnic tensions in the neighborhood, except among the youth gangs that exist there as elsewhere in the city. "My neighbor is Polish," Claudio said. "In fact almost all of my neighbors are Polish. We share the same things. He keeps his house clean. I keep my house clean. He mows his grass. I mow my grass." As for Milwaukee Avenue, the onetime "Polish Broadway," he said that not everything had changed. "There is still a commitment by the Puerto Rican community to develop the shopping there," he said. "It is a very lively street" PROFESSIONAL FEES business for 45 years, echoed a question with a wry smile. "I've had this thing up to my neck." He bridled when asked if the changing ethnic character of the "Polish Triangle" was a factor in his decision to retire. "This isn't Spanish," he said, "it's still Polish. The Spanish come in here and say it's Spanish." Then, pausing and thinking for a few moments, he added: "It's time for a change, to give the neighborhood to somebody else. We took it from somebody else, so give it to somebody else." Edwin Claudio is part of that change. A 29-year-old of Puerto Rican descent, he is an appointed member of the Chicago Board of Education. He grew up in a Hispanic neighborhood near Humboldt Park and now lives just off Milwaukee Avenue in the Logan Square area, a section of attractive one- and DOCTOR IN ATTENDANCE 15 Minutes Or Less 30 Minutes Or Less SERVICE FEE BRIEF $10.00 INTERMEDIATE $12.00 EXTENDED $15.00 45 Minutes Or Less EXAMINATION $10 Routine With First Visit X-Ray Service Available If Necessary HOURS Monday 9 to 5 Wednesday 9 to 7 Friday 9 to 5 We guarantee dad will lave moved farther northwest along the avenue. Although most Poles deny that racial or ethnic hostilities caused the exodus, some acknowledge that they moved because they fear the black and Hispanic newcomers, whom many of the older residents still refer to in a collective euphemism as "the element" And the heavy iron gratings and plywood-protected windows on many of the remaining shops give mute testimony to the crime that stalks the neighborhood. Vividly describing the burglaries, intrusions and window-smashings that have afflicted the museum and the Polish Roman Catholic Union in the last decade, Father Bilinski said it was becoming increasingly difficult for those institutions to get employees. "It's hard to get the help to come here," be said. But he added, almost wistfully: "I was a youngster when they would refer to the Poles in a derogatory manner. Given time, they acclimated themselves. I see these elements here-given time, they'll be acclimated." Ten months ago Cleon Berry bought the Polish bakery that had operated a few doors from the museum for years. Now the building houses Leon's Bar-B-Q, named for a string of South Side barbecue restaurants owned by Mr. Berry's father, Leon. "This was pretty well tightened in for years," the younger Berry said. "The Polish had it pretty well locked up. Then after they could afford a little better, they moved out and we and the Spanish moved in." Now, standing behind the bulletproof glass that protects his cooks and clerks, Berry, who says his is one of only two black-owned businesses in the area, is waiting for things to get better. Farther up the avenue, at the "Polish Triangle," the shops are mostly Polish and Hispanic American. The people mingling on the crowded streets are blacks, Hispanic Americans and whites, and many, if not most, stores have signs in English, Spanish and Polish. David Cambero has operated the Gold Palace Discount Store, just off the triangle, for 11 years. His customers, he said, are "mostly Spanish and black, but some Polish; not so many as years ago, but some." On the triangle itself, the signs of change are everywhere. The Polish Daily Zgoda building is now a Tru-Value Hardware Store. The former headquarters of the Polish National Alliance houses Social Security and unemployment offices with signs in three languages. The Kowynia Travel Agency sits next to Su Amigo Foods. The Sajewski Music Store, founded in 1897 and generally acknowledged to be the largest Polish music specialty store in the nation, closed its doors a couple of weeks ago and the sign on the door announcing the decision is in English, Polish and Spanish. Nearby, at the Starsiak Clothing Store, signs plastered on the windows announce, "All Stock Sacrificed." "Why leave?" Alexander M. Starsiak, N.Y. Timet Newi Service CHICAGO-Across Milwaukee Avenue from the Polish Roman Catholic Union's headquarters a the corner of Augusta Boulevard, one bench at the bus stop has an advertisement for the Walter L. Sojka Funeral Home. The other, with golden arches rampant, proclaims that a McDonald's is three blocks north. In the near distance, the spires of St Stanislaus Kostka and Holy Trinity Churches are formidable reminders of days past But in the foreground is the present low-income housing project whose residents are predominantly blacks. "We're practically an island here," said the Rev. Donald Bilinski, the gray-haired curator and archivist of the Polish Museum and library, housed in the union building. Speaking at midday behind doors locked against what be considers the cruel whims of an increasingly alien world, he added: "I might be overstating it but those other organizations, like the Polish National Alliance, they ran away. They ran away. If they had stayed, maybe something would have worked out" For most of this century, Milwaukee Avenue, an aging but vibrant thoroughfare that slashes from the suburbs diagonally through Chicago's Northwest Side into the heart of the city, has been known affectionately as "Polish Broadway." But Milwaukee Avenue is changing. The changes are not easily apparent in data from the Census Bureau, which deals in numbers and categories, not neighborhoods and individuals. The bureau's 1980 count merely confirms what has long been understood by people who live in many of the nation's older cities like Chicago, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Detroit Cities evolve as the latest immigrants, now blacks, Hispanic Americans and Asians, replace some of the earlier Germans, Irish, Poles, Italians and Jews. In many ways Milwaukee Avenue has become a microcosm of Chicago. More than half of the city's 3 million people are blacks, Hispanic Americans or Asians. Abandoning their South and West Side districts, thousands of blacks have in the last decade moved into such North Side neighborhoods along Lake Michigan as Rogers Park, Edgewater, Uptown and Lakeview. In some of the areas, Hispanic Americans, Southeast Asians, Koreans and East Indians have arrived in significant numbers, sprinkling the neighborhoods with an ethnic medley of shops and restaurants. Even Bridgeport, the late Mayor Richard J. Daley's 11th Ward political bastion on the South Side, is 21 percent Hispanic American, according to census data. But in few places is the transformation of the rityscape more visible than on Milwaukee Avenue, especially along the three-mile stretch from Logan Square in the northwest to the old "Polish Triangle" to the southeast, where the avenue is crossed by Ashland Avenue and Division Street. A few blocks southeast of the triangle, where Father Bilinski sits at the Polish Museum recalling the disruptions of the nearby Kennedy Expressway, urban renewal and the construction of public bousing, the neighborhood is heavily black, although a scattering of Polish shops and older residents remains. "Mayor Daley was promising that for the Polish people it would be fine," Father Bilinski said, recounting expectations that the displaced Poles would move into the new public housing when it was built. 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