I got a call from my cousin. He read the book, Our Kids, and we shared our impressions of it. All in all, we agree that Putnam glossed over inequalities that did exist in Port Clinton back in the 40s and 50s. My cousin would go with his dad out to poor families his dad knew about b/c their kids would work as pin setters in his bowling alley (as I did and my cousin did). His dad, my uncle, would load up the trunk of his car with groceries and routinely go out to these houses. A place Putnam doesn’t mention is Dooby Town. It turns out, as my cousin says, it was a small community of impoverished people living east and north of the bowling alley. I think many small towns had satellites like that. Even in Phoenix we had Sunny Slope and Wittman; a social worker told me her husband and other police officers would run people out of town and Wittman was their destination. To our east here in the East Valley (Valley of the Sun aka Phoenix metro area) we have Apache Junction; you don’t worry about HOAs in those places telling you you cannot put your junk cars in the front yard.
My cousin was good friends with two boys from Dooby Town and that goes a ways toward bolstering Putnam’s contention about the lack of class consciousness in the town in those days. The same with many immigrant families (European) just to the east of my aunt’s house. Partly, that was b/c all the kids went to the same school. My cousin moved away after college and I moved away in my sophomore year of h.s. (1956), so neither of us has a truly adult perspective on the town. The fact that he frequented the pool hall and was a radio preacher tells you how relaxed things were. OTOH, his first church had a couple who backed him into a corner after one sermon and told him he would split the church if he said anything political; the congregation was split among Democrats, Republicans and Independents. So even then, 1953, politics was a hot topic.
The loss of industry doomed the town, which is now split between high income commuter families and poor families with little in between, according to Putnam.