Philadelphia: Campus Publishing, 1950. First Edition. Small Folio. (32 x 24 cm.) 140 pp. ills. Full, marine-blue vinyl. Front board with chain and anchor motif. Raised titles and motif in silver. Front and rear endpaper pastedowns with seashore and lighthouse theme. Nautical themes throughout. Original ownership signature to front pastedown. Personal inscriptions throughout. Small, inoffensive, white paint smudges to top corners, unaffecting text block. Slight bumping and edgewear to corners and front board. Very mild soiling. Item #119
Bridgeton, New Jersey in the 1950s, like many small, rural towns across America during that time was segregated. It was an historic town of old Victorian homes, a vibrant mainstreet with a popular theater, a soda fountain lifestyle for the teenagers and a love for cars and football. The theater was segregated as was the soda fountain. Kids of different racial backgrounds did not mingle. There was a portion of the town for everyone but they did not overlap socially. With one outstanding exception: High School. The Bridgeton High School Yearbook is a time capsule of how Americans in certain isolated towns defied, either by necessity or by accident, the prevailing racial norms. During the World War II years, nearby employer, Seabrook Farms, the largest supplier of frozen vegetables to the military, had a shortage of farm laborers. To make up for that shortage, Seabrook Farms was registered as a War Relocation Authority (WRA) center and enlisted more than 2,000 Japanese Americans from West Coast internment camps to live and work at the farm as cheap labor, working alongside African-Americans from Gouldtown, an African-American settlement that boasted to be one of the oldest in America, established in 1675. In Bridgeton, all the kids from the area went to Bridgeton High School. Therefore, the teenage Japanese American youth from the nearby work-camp, also known in the town as the "Seabrook Gang" and the African-American teenagers from Gouldtown and the descendents of early European settlers were socially integrated four years before the 1954 Supreme Court Brown vs. Board of Education decision. A fascinating and complicated glimpse into the true lives of pre-Civil Rights era America.