0159. Pennsylvania Onion Domes (USA 086--new)

Mt Carmel Travel Blog

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Church row...

Just a few miles from Shamokin is my next stop--Mount Carmel... not quite the cozy charm of Shamokin, but interesting all the same.  One thing you quickly notice in these Coal Towns are the onion shaped domes on the churches... this is "Little Russia", Pennsylvania.  Where thousands of Eastern Europeans came around the turn of the century to work in the mines.  There's a Ukranian Catholic Church, an Orthodox Church, a Lithuanian Club, two Polish clubs and a "Skola Slovenska" (?)

 I walk up and down the streets hoping to see more signs of the preservation of the Slavic cultures in this town, but I see almost nothing.  People greet me with a grunt or a "howzit goin"... the elderly "babushkas" traded in their scarves and shawls for halter tops and unsightly granny shorts a long time ago.

.. the restaurants are your typical cheap diners and fast food joints... you hear Toby Keith on the radio as pick up trucks rumble past...

 It looks like all these Russian folks have been pretty much completely redneckicized...

 And I wonder, is that inevitable?  Will any immigrant group become completely Americanized over time?

 Then I remember my Armenian neighbors in Los Angeles... they've been here for over 80 years, yet the kids still shout out to each other in Armenian at the playground... they still buy their bread in Armenian bakeries with the signs written in Armenian and listen to Armenian music...

 But such is not the case with folks here in Mount Carmel.

 Postnote:  Later on I have the chance to talk to a fellow whose ancestors were Slovakian immigrants.  He told me that back in the day, immigrants tried to be “Americanized” as quickly as possible… There almost seemed to be a feeling of shame about their origins…

 I’ve pondered on that a bit and I wonder if it might have been because there were so many Eastern European ethnicities living side by side in these towns—many of which had a long history of animosity towards each other, people felt they’d be safer if they shed their ethnic identity as quickly as possible…

 …It’s an intriguing situation… Maybe someday I’ll head back to this region to learn a bit more…


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Church row...
Church row...
Mt Carmel
photo by: nathanphil