The Adventures (of quoting) Ozzie and Harriet

10.31.11 | By Edward (Ned) Hill

Last week I was quoted in a New York Times article on poverty in suburban Cleveland that was widely distributed, including on the BRR blog.  What was fascinating was the response to the quote, which appeared as the “Quotation of the Day” in the Times, Chicago Tribune, and in columns in papers from Salt Lake’s Desert News to Winnipeg’s daily paper. It also showed up blogs that ranged from Time.com and the Maddow Blog to something called Balloon Juice. Sparkaction did the dailies one better by making it the quote of the week. 

Here’s the quote, remember it is in a column about suburban poverty:

“The whole political class is just getting the memo that Ozzie and Harriet don’t live here anymore,” said Edward Hill, dean of the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University.

The response to the quote turned into a Rorschach test.

I received a blog-blast charge of false equivalency (from Balloon Juice) for mentioning the entire political class rather than Republicans in DC.  The Juice’s blogger John Cole has followers who know how to use email.

Several sent sociological treatises on the current scarcity of Ozzie and Harriet nuclear families in America; the irony was lost on the scribblers.  The best is in Legally Sociable.

And then a series of rifts on where are Ozzie and Harriet now followed, most by email:

They are elderly, want to move into a continuous care facility, but cannot sell because they are surrounded by foreclosed houses that tanked the value of their house.

Poor Ozzie and Harriet want to downsize but cannot because they take care of their grandkids. (Another version had the three generations living together because their sons David and Ricky lost their jobs.)

Ozzie and Harriet are divorced and slugging it out in court to determine who gets the upside-down mortgage.

The coldest: “Ozzie and Harriet are dead.”

The best was from my 23-year-old daughter: “Cool Dad, but who are Ozzie and Harriet?”  As Legally Sociable’s Brian typed…the last show was taped in 1966.

So join in: Where are Ozzie and Harriet now?

I am thankful that I did not refer to Cleveland’s post-war suburbs as the “former land of the Donna Reed’s.”

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