NOW:53207:USA00949
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Get this: I'm going to tie President Andrew Johnson to Bay View. Well, I'm going to try.

My command of history is lousy. Don’t begin to nod your head, thinking you know as little as I do, because, trust me, I win the prize for knowing the least.

I was just tutoring a student who is working on a 10-page research paper for her history class. She sought my help to brainstorm ways to focus her paper, which is about political cartoons that ran during the push for impeachment of former president Andrew Johnson.

{Note to those of you who are as ignorant as I am: Johnson was president from 1865 to 1869. He stepped into office after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.}

Fortunately for my student, while I am in the not-so-knowledgeable camp when it comes to history, I can write a mean research paper and I understand a thing or two about political cartoons and editorial commentary.

Once I was able to help her tie these cartoons from the 1860s to those with which she is more familiar from the inky pages of the Journal Sentinel and the New Yorker, she was able to see their relevance more clearly.

Understanding that relevance isn’t always easy. And even when we grasp it, we’re not always sure what to do with it. How do we meld the old with the new? How do we learn from the past enough to apply it to the present?

We need to collaborate. And that’s a lesson this neighborhood needs to learn.

During my tenure as editor of The Bay Viewer and later South Shore NOW, I got to know many of you. Over the years, I learned I could break the neighborhood into two camps – the “oldies” and the “newbies.” And rarely do the two mingle.

The oldies (please don’t hate me for labeling you as such, it’s for simplicity’s sake, I promise) include those who are involved with groups such as the Bay View Historical Society, the Bay View High School Alumni Association and the Humboldt Park Fourth of July Committee.

The newbies (and, yes, I know you’re not all new to the neighborhood, again, please bear with my labels) include those who are involved with groups such as the Bay View Neighborhood Association and Forward Bay View and those of you who hang out at the neighborhood’s hipster watering holes.

As I got to know these two camps, I also learned about the events that each camp gets involved with. And they’re quite different. I can sum it up by saying the oldies enjoy the South Shore Frolic while the newbies enjoy the Bay View Bash.

Let me acknowledge the obvious: I am annoying many of you with my generalizations. And, yes, I am oversimplifying the state of the neighborhood. But what I do not understand, and never have, is why these two groups continue to operate on parallel tracks instead of running into each other head on. Such a collision would create a beautiful mess.

The oldies have so much knowledge of this neighborhood’s history and its traditions, while the newbies have zest and creativity. Imagine what we could do if we could harness the combination of all the oldies and newbies have to offer this neighborhood.

When I heard that the BVNA had canceled the Bay View Bash, I asked a member if the group would consider a partnership to enhance the South Shore Frolic and make it a joint effort that encompassed everything the oldies and the newbies wanted in a festival. She indicated that was likely not in the cards.

Why not? Imagine a monster truck pull, followed by a punk rock concert, followed by some polka dancing, and wrapped up with a movie on the beach and some fireworks. What would be more representative of Bay View?

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