In Australia, there’s a genuine and easy feeling of mateship because most people are white. In diverse America, mateship is more difficult to find.
In 1952, when Kaczynski was ten, his parents moved from Chicago to the suburban community of Evergreen Park—in order, they later explained to Ted, to provide him with a better class of friends. The community into which the Kaczynskis moved would soon be in turmoil. Evergreen Park was a mixed neighborhood of Irish, Italians, Czechs, and Poles who now felt themselves under siege by yet another group of new arrivals.
On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that segregated schooling was unconstitutional. To many people in Evergreen Park this was tantamount to a declaration of war. Even before the Court’s decision they had feared what they saw as black encroachment. African-American communities stood just next door, and black families came to town to shop and eat at Evergreen Park restaurants. Black teenagers hung around Evergreen Plaza.
This environment tended to isolate the Kaczynskis, who by several accounts were liberal on race matters. Aggravating their isolation was Evergreen Park’s fragmented school system. Until 1955 the town had no public high school building, and students were bused to high schools in surrounding communities. Evergreen Park High School was not completed until 1955, and Ted Kaczynski, who became a member of the first class that spent all four years there, found himself in a school without cohesion or community, where few of the students knew one another. As Spencer Gilmore, a former science teacher, lamented, there was “no commonality in the student body.” Howard Finkle, who was then a social-studies teacher, describes Evergreen Park in those years as a school for strangers. Soon the school was riven by cliques.