Saturday, February 21, 2009

The story of Confederate House in Levittown

Jonathan Yardley has the story of Confederate House in Levittown.

"What followed was a protracted period of tension punctuated by frequent small riots and near-riots. Led by a "hulking flattopped man" named James E. Newell Jr., "a thirty-year-old electrician from Durham, North Carolina, who lived around the corner on Daffodil Lane," and his "sidekick, an unemployed forty-eight-year-old named Eldred Williams," a small but noisy and openly racist group of Levittowners made life so miserable for the Myerses that they took their children out of town. Police protection was half-hearted at best; "the local police . . . sat by and watched the harassment . . . for weeks." The Ku Klux Klan arrived on the scene and found eager supporters. Crosses were burned, epithets were painted on the Wechslers' house, and an empty house at nearby 30 Darkleaf Lane was rented to new neighbors, who turned the place into a kind of clubhouse:

"The Myerses and Wechslers recognized in horror the familiar faces of their tormenters, including Newell, and even the mailman who had started the riot after he'd delivered the first letter to Daisy Myers on that August day. Outside, the caretaker of the house, Eldred Williams, walked his black dog up and down the yard. He had renamed the pet in honor of this day. 'Here, Nigger,' he called to the dog, 'come here you, Nigger.' The neighbors had arrived."

They called the place 'the Confederate House,' and 'called themselves the Dogwood Hollow Social Club.' "

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