I am privileged to have known Jim Short and to have worked with and learned from him. When we met in 2000, Jim (’51 PhD, University of Chicago) recently had become professor emeritus of sociology at Washington State University and was beginning to “unwind” after an illustrious career spanning half a century. I was a graduate student in my second year of the doctoral program and had just learned that my first mentor would be departing WSU for what were very understandable personal reasons. I am forever indebted to him for walking me three doors down the hall to introduce me to Jim.
Fifty years ago James F. Short Jr., a young sociologist at Washington State University, was asked to lead a study of Chicago gangs.
In smoky pool halls on Roosevelt Road, the baseball fields of Douglas Park, and the windy street corners of Lawndale, Short and a team of youth workers and sociologists spent three years trying to figure out if boys with monikers like Smack Daddy, Duke, and Commando were so very different from their counterparts in wealthier parts of the city.
The resulting groundbreaking analysis opened a window into the everyday experience of the Vice Lords, the Egyptian Cobras, the Imperial Chaplains, and the … » More …