There was a more important Madison for me; I grew up with the steelworkers of Madison Street.
This was the same time period, but a very different lifestyle and attitude. The collars were not white, they were blue. This was not New York, it was Pennsylvania.
Eighty years ago this month, WW II was coming to an end. Soldiers like my father were returning home to family, love and economic prosperity.
It was a one industry town. Steel. Open hearth furnaces were operating at full tilt; specialty plate steel was in demand during war time; ships, airplanes, building infrastructure.
The housing industry was thriving in the 1950’s; the union was well established, those well-paying skilled labor jobs were secure. Moms mostly stayed at home. Families flourished.
In a community of row homes, subsidized by the steel company as low-income housing for its workers and located walking distance from the mill, Madison Street was different.
There were single homes and half-doubles, cottages and ranch-style, all featuring bigger lawns, more ample space, and just a bit more removed from the megalith mill buildings.
This was a community of immigrants, mostly eastern European and Italian. Names were difficult to pronounce. Many different languages were spoken in the home. Ethnic awareness and pride abounded. The food was amazing.
And families stayed. Generations of them.
The steel industry has waned, jobs have moved overseas, the city is looking for a rebirth. It sits along the Brandywine River and the commuter route to Philadelphia and points north and east.
Condo communities are springing up along the rolling hillsides, but the city center has fallen to decay, superseded by malls, bypassed by highways; like so many of those manufacturing meccas of the past century.
Still, as I drive past the old neighborhood, the names on many of the mailboxes remain the same.
It always makes me smile.