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The Spartan Greeks of Bridgetown - PDF - / Send As Email
Community Cohesion
by J. Mayone Stycos
In Common Ground, March 1948, pp. 24-33 - Previous Article / Next Article

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THE SPARTAN GREEKS OF BRIDGETOWN:
COMMUNITY COHESION
J. MAYONE STYGOS
{This is the second of several articles
on the Bridgetown Greek Americans by
J. Mayone Stycos, who was graduated
from Piinceton University last June and
has since then been with the Princeton
population-research group working in
Puerto Rico. Mr. Stycos' first article ap-.
peared in the Winter ig^8 issue, and
the next, concerned with the secondgeneration
group in its reaction to the
Greek American community, will appear
in the Summer 1948 number.)
PROBABLY the most striking result of
my investigation of the first and secondgeneration
Greek Americans of Bridgetown
was the discovery of the unusual
amount of community spirit and active
co-operation the members manifested.
While stresses and strains on the -community
do exist, they seem the exception.
The unity is of two kinds, psychological
and structural. The Greeks think of themselves
as a unit. The sense of this unity
was frequently expressed. Several persons
said the community was like "one big
family," while others showed in their
attitudes a preference for those of Greek
descent on a basis of "feeling at home,"
"being with your own kind," etc. Nearly
all those interviewed commented on the
friendliness of the Greeks in contrast to
"Americans."
At Church affairs, dances, picnics, etc.,
I was constantly given the impression of
a primary group gathering. Informality,
spontaneity, and thorough mixing of the
members of the crowd demonstrated the
close personal ties of the participants.
These informal, friendly attitudes are seen
too when members of the community visit
other Greeks. The visitor is ordinarily
greeted vociferously" and ceremoniously,
and heartily invited to make himself at
home.
Much of the mechanics or etiquette
of these friendly attitudes is a distinct cultural
habit. Said a successful business
man: "The Greek spirit is different. We
are more friendly. You visit an American
house and they ask you where you are
staying and how you are doing. The
Greek brings out food; he makes you feel
at home. It is our tradition. It is not that
the Americans mean anything wrOng.
Their ways are different." No one leaves
a Greek home without being treated to
food, drink, or both, and this custom
seems firmly ingrained in the second
generation as well. One second-generation
girl informed me that she and her sisters
had been thoroughly trained never to allow
a visitor to leave without having him
partake of some item of nourishment; and
at every home or restaurant I visited I was
oflEered at least a liqueur and often pastries.
Further evidence of the psychological
"big family" atmosphere of the community
is evidenced in the many remarks
of the Greeks concerning the absence of
class among them. Said the Greek priest
after a year in the community: "The first
thing that struck me about Bridgetown
was the absence of class distinctions. In
Ró, where I was previously, there was
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