Cultural Differences and Anti Fascism

Cultural Differences and Anti Fascism

The corner of North Clinton and Upper Falls now occupied by a coca cola bottling plant and abandoned houses was once a thriving neighborhood. In the forties the neighborhood was a central hub for Sicilian immigrants coming to Rochester NY and was the home and greatest inspiration to famous writer Jerre Mangione.

Mangione grew up in the Sicilian neighborhood facing prejudice faced by all Italians at the time, that they were nothing more than thieves and mobsters as well as battling the differences between American culture and the culture of his family. He would use those experiences to write his most renowned work, Mount Allergo.  Published in 1943, the book was listed as fiction instead of an auto biography under the insistence of his publishers. Forced to change the names of every character of the book Mangione put a tongue and cheek disclaimer in his bok stating “The characters in this book are fictitious and have fictitious names. Anyone who thinks he recognizes himself in it is kindly asked to bear that in mind.”

He didn’t limit his writing about the cultural differences back home, Jerre spent some time in Sicily to get a feel for his family’s culture. While he was there he witnessed pre war Italy during the rise of fascism. He became one of the first anti fascists in America before America itself declared war against the Axis. He would write cautionary pieces for the New Republic, The Globe, The Travel, and The New Masses describing what he saw. Later Mangoine faced heat from Mcarthy’s red scare because of his leftward leanings and his organization The Feder al Writers’ Project was targeted.

Mangoine would publish five more works and would go on to be a professor at the University of Pennsylvania in 1967 until 1978. Before his death in 1998 he donated all of his unfinished works, notes, and original writings to the University of Rochester for public use.