Immigration to and from Darlington, Wisconsin

Family home in Darlington, Wisconsin

The family home in Darlington, Wisconsin

This is where I grew up, my parent’s home in Darlington, Wisconsin. Darlington’s demographics have changed dramatically over the past 10 years or so. As a child I thought there were two types of people in the world: Catholics and Publics. I assumed the Publics were a branch of the Republicans and so was stunned when my parents told me they voted for JFK…I was in the third grade at the time. How could I go to the Public School and not be a Republican? How could my parents own a newspaper called the Republican Journal and not be Republicans? 

I don’t recall much ethnicity in Darlington during my growing up years. There were Sid and Elsie Garrett…the only Jewish couple that I knew of in town (how did they get to Darlington and why did they stay?). There was a Black woman who lived near Calamine and shot and killed some guy who got drunk and tried to break into her house. Then later on, one doctor adopted a Korean boy and another doctor adopted a Black-American/Vietnamese child. I’m sure there were more…but not 100% sure. 

Today there is a thriving Mexican population…I heard there were more than 500 Latinos living in the county. There is a Mexican church, a grocery store (they sell almost any kind of pepper you can imagine), a restaurant, and check-cashing store, all on Main Street. There is a Mexican cheese factory but the only place in town you can buy it is in the Mexican grocery store because some big Mexican restaurant in Chicago has bought up all their cheese…or so I heard. You hear Spanish being spoken around town. There is a Chinese restaurant run by Asians whose first language is not English…I heard a couple speaking in the Piggly Wiggly (which used to be called Dick’s Supermarket…why would anyone name their grocery store Dick’s? And now Dick’s has been turned into a Piggly Wiggly; it just gets worse.). I saw a couple of black people in the supermarket, too.

This is a microcosm of the continuous movement of people across the globe. We read about it in history…the Celtic people crossing Europe and on to the British Isles in the first couple of centuries BCE; the Goths moving into the Roman Empire; the Romans moving to Byzantium and changing it to Constantinople; the Europeans swarming over North and South America. I moved from the Midwest to San Francisco. Well that may not be quite as dramatic, but it is part of the same pattern…a lot of folks from the Midwest made the same migration that I made. As a species, we definitely have that traveling gene in our blood. Makes for a very interesting cultural smorgasbord.

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