Posts Tagged ‘Eastern Massachusetts’

Beverly v. Gloucester: Class War on the North Shore

July 8, 2008

The Boston Herald once again returns to the story of the Beverly Farms Parade of Horribles and its ridicule of the so-called pregnancy pact in neighboring Gloucester. The underlying issue, one of teens too recklessly having children is one, of course, of deep concern. But, to me, the Beverly parade — you can watch it below — suggests another, one which we hear little to nothing about these days, class division.

One of the unique aspects of Eastern Massachusetts, unlike much of the country which is defined by brand new, nondescript, “subdivisions,” is that the region still has cities and towns with unique identities. Also unlike other regions, such as the Southwest (Anglo v. Latino,) South (white v. African-American,) where divisions are primarily ethnic and racial, you’re still dealing with towns, which have similar racial and ethnic profiles. Our area, therefore, provides a good litmus test on class. And it’s ugly.

I can think of several other places in the region where a few miles means a major difference in income. Start where I grew up, Hull. Hull is bordered by Hingham, a former target of derision of the Globe’s Metro Editor, Brian McGrory. Nearby is Cohasset, an even wealthier town. Class was an essential part of the sports rivalry between Hull and Cohasset. Self-described “rich kids” from Cohasset even vandalized a portion of Hull’s sea wall adjacent to the high school after a football victory. There’s also the Winchester-Woburn divide.

At a time when fishing, the economic engine of Gloucester is imperiled, as Mark Kurlansky writes in his new book, towns like Beverly Farms are relatively secure as refuges for the rich. Even with the current downturn, I’ve watched some communities, such as Needham and Newton, go from affluent communities with good school systems, to homes for the super-rich.

Just something to think about as we sit back and watch this spectacle.