Pole To Pole

My son told a pretty funny joke on the way home, something about God striking down a cursing golfer (you had to be there).

I started to tell a joke of my own, and stopped because I realised it broke our rule of disparaging a group of people (in this case, it was a “blonde” joke).  Instead, I veered off into a conversation of how jokes are sometimes used to perpetuate negative sterotypes, and how many times the “truth” behind them is far from it.

Some of you who are from the north might be surprised to learn that, at least in my neck of the woods, African Americans were NOT the subject of “dumb” jokes when I was growing up (widespread racism notwithstanding).  No, that honor was reserved for Polish jokes.  Or “Pollock Jokes” as my friends called them.

As I told my children about this, I had to ask myself, “Why the Polish?  In Nashville, TN?  It’s not like Nashville is overflowing with Polish immigrants.  Where did this particular prejudie come from?”

The only guess I have is that returning WW2 vets brought the prejudice back from Europe.  Maybe it’s a long-standing thing in Italy, France, and Germany to make fun of the Poles?  I really don’t know; I DO know that a couple of you are historians who probably know the answer.

I remember that “Pollock Jokes” were all the rage US-wide in the 60’s and 70’s.  Archie Bunker (from the show “All In The Family”), I remember, had a lot of contempt for “pollocks”.  Maybe Nashville kids were just joining the national trend.

I did tell my kids how all of us kids were shamed a few years later when Lech Walesa and his countrymen became the first oppressed people in the eastern block to stare down the mighty Soviet Union and win.  After Solidarity, you really didn’t hear too many Pollock jokes anymore.

So, anyway, a Fundie, a blonde, a Jew and a Mexican walk into a bar…

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4 Responses to “Pole To Pole”

  1. dolphin Says:

    I remember hearing a person once (i don’t recall who) who would insert a certain name when telling “dumb jokes.” So it was more like “Billie Joe was walking down the street…” No groups (or real people) being disparaged, yet the joke would be just as funny (or not funny).

  2. nm Says:

    Yeah. Or you could say, “some stupid guy/gal ….” I’ve never quite understood why the joke can’t be about a stupid individual.

    Interesting cultural notes: in Texas, the same jokes were “Aggie jokes,” in Lebanon they are “Syrian jokes.”

  3. jim voorhies Says:

    But, but, it almost seems to be contrary to nature if we can’t tell blonde jokes.

  4. Lynnster Says:

    “After Solidarity, you really didn’t hear too many Pollock jokes anymore.”

    Well, unless you dated one. In my lifetime I’ve come dangerously close to marrying two young men of Polish Catholic descent & let me tell ya, the jokes are pretty much neverending. Even 20 & 15 years later.

    I’m OK with blonde jokes, & if I’m OK with ’em then they pretty much HAVE to be OK. 🙂


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