no bums or aggressive beggars on the street; if anyone wantedrnto see a bum, they could go to a short street downtown calledrnthe Bowery, where bums or “winos” hung out. And even theyrnwere not strictly “homeless,” as they lived in very cheap Boweryrnhotels. The streets teemed with fascinating charactersrnhawking their nostrums and ideologies. Soapboxes in UnionrnSquare or Columbus Circle featured any speaker who wantedrnto get up and address the crowd. I remember with affectionrnone elderly guy working the streets in the Wall Street area,rnearnestly hawking the idea that lemonade or lemon juice wasrnthe panacea for all bodily ills. And at that time. New York wasrnstudded with inexpensive cafeterias, where one could sit nursingrna cup of coffee for hours and either read or discuss ideasrnundisturbed. One guy came to be called “Senator Mendel,”rnfrom spending most of his hours in the Senator Cafeteria onrnthe Upper West Side. Nowadays, of course, such cafeteriasrnwould be filled with aggressive bums and muggers, and quietrnor discourse would be impossible.rnLooking back on it, all the discussions and arguments I gotrninto, whether in street, neighborhood, family, or school, werernmarked by an instinctive civility and courtesy. Even thoughrnthere were lots of communists around, there were no angryrnsquads of enforcers of political correctness or threats to sendrnyou to brainwashing or sensitivity training sessions. And evenrnthough I was, with the exception of my father, virtually thernonly rightist I knew personally, I was uniformly treated not withrnhostility but rather with reactions ranging from astonishmentrnto amused affection.rnThe one important aspect in which my growing up differedrnfrom these other Jewish memoirists, of course, is that they werernsome species of communist or socialist, whereas I was a rightwingerrnand bitterly antisocialist from the very beginning. I grewrnup in a communist culture; the middle-class Jews in New Yorkrnwhom I lived among, whether family, friends, or neighbors,rnwere either communists or fellow-travelers in the communistrnorbit. I had two sets of Communist Party uncles and aunts, onrnboth sides of my family. But more important, the one greatrnmoral question in the lives of all these people was: Should I actuallyrnjoin the Communist Party and devote the whole of myrnlife to the cause, or should I remain a fellow-traveler and “selfishly”rndevote only a fraction of my energy to communism?rnThat was it; any species of liberalism, let alone conservatism,rnwas nonexistent. And, contrary to the fond memories ofrnKristol, Bell, Howe, et al, I never heard of a Trotskyist in thisrnperiod. Trotskyism was confined to a few intellectuals andrnfuture academics; for middle-class New York Jewry, thernpolitical world revolved around the C.P. (In later years, therernwas a reality-based joke on the left: “Whatever happened to thernOld Left? The Trotskyites went into academia, and thernStalinists went into real estate.”)rnThe one exception to this communist milieu was my father,rnDavid. My father emigrated to the United States from a Polishrnshtetl in 1910, impoverished and knowing not a word of English.rnLike most immigrants of that era, he had resolved “to becomernan American” in every sense. And that meant, for him,rnnot only learning English and making it his language, but alsornabandoning Yiddish papers and culture and purging himself ofrnany foreign accent. It also meant devotion to the basic AmericanrnWay: minimal government, belief in and respect for freernenterprise and private property, and a determination to rise byrnone’s own merits and not via government privilege or handout.rnRussian and Polish Jews before World War I were swept withrncommunist, socialist, and Zionist ideologies and movements,rnor blends of the three. But my father never fell for any of them.rnAn individualist rather than a socialist or tribalist, he believedrnhis loyalty was to America rather than to Zionism or to anyrnZionist entity in the Middle East.rnhe last gasp of thernOld Right inrnforeign policy wasrnthe defeat of the Bricker Amendment tornthe Constitution in 1954, an amendmentrnthat would have prevented internationalrntreaties from overriding American rightsrnand powers. The amendment was sabotagedrnby the Eisenhower administration.rnI grew up in the same spirit. All socialism seemed to mernmonstrously coercive and abhorrent. In one family gatheringrnfeaturing endless pledges of devotion to “Loyalist” Spain duringrnthe Civil War, I piped up, at the age of 11 or 12, “What’srnwrong with Franco, anyway?” It didn’t seem to me that Franco’srnsins, however statist, were any worse, to put it mildly, thanrnthose of the Republicans. My query was a conversationstopper,rnall right, but I never received an answer.rnWhen I shifted in early grades from the debasing and egalitarianrnpublic school system to a private school that I enjoyedrna great deal, I found myself in another odd ideological climate.rnIn those days, girls of the wealthier classes were protected, andrnso they were sent to a day school in New York, whereas upperclassrnboys were sent out of town to boarding school. The privaternday school I attended was coed, but it had difficulty attractingrnboys and was in danger of falling into all-girl status. Asrna result, they gave scholarships to bright, middle-class boys.rnThe result was socially anomalous: the girls were all wealthy,rndriven to and from school in chauffeured limousines, whereasrnat least half the boys were scholarship lads such as myself. Anotherrnfascinating note was that the students were mostly,rnthough not solely, Jewish, whereas the staff and instructors werernall WSPs. None of the Jewish students felt oppressed by thisrnsituation; indeed, none of us felt aggrieved when every Fridayrnwe attended chapel, nondenominational to be sure, but singingrnglorious Christian hymns. None of the Jewish students felt anythingrnbut happily assimilated into what America—which was,rnafter all, a WASP and Christian country—was all about.rnBut while none of my fellow high school students was a communist,rnthey were all left-liberals, what came to be called inrnNew York “Park Avenue” or “limousine” liberals—all too literallyrnin their case. I soon became established as the school conservative,rnarguing strongly in the eighth grade against Roosevelt’srnintroduction of the capital-gains tax in 1938 and laterrnagainst Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia’s left-wing policy of coddlingrnAUGUST 1994/17rnrnrn