Slovenian American Times
Slovenian American News

Slovenian Mayors in America and the World

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I first contacted Mr. Phillip Bayt, the Mayor of Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1969. In his beautiful reply he confirmed his Slovenian roots and also reminded me — and now reminds all our readers — of the enormous sacrifices endured by his and many other immigrant parents, in what was initially for them a foreign land, speaking a different, incomprehensible language and following strange, different customs.

It is easy to imagine that their American neighbors had difficulty pronouncing their last name Bajt. It probably sounded something like “dg” in the word budget. “Your request for information,” wrote Mayor Bayt, “reminds me of the tremendous sacrifice made by parents of first-generation Americans. There were eleven children in my family, nine boys and two girls. I was the oldest boy and l am aware from personal knowledge that both my father and mother made many sacrifices so that their children had a good home and received at least an opportunity for
education.” This tribute to his father Filip and mother Antonia was made by Phillip Bayt whom the Indianapolis News called “one of the best mayors in the city’s history — if not the best”; thus, Bayt has joined the list of American best mayors, including Lausche and Voinovich, who were of Slovenian descent.

America was always a country of opportunity, yet, unlike Mayor Bayt, most descendants of immigrants have no idea of the sacrifices their immigrant ancestors had to make and problems they had to overcome to give their children a better chance in life than what they themselves had encountered. Thus, James J. Divita, Ph.D., Professor of History at Marian College (later University) in Indianapolis, devoted a chapter of his excellent book, SLAVES TO NO ONE: A History of the Holy Trinity Catholic Community on the Diamond Jubilee of the Founding of Holy Trinity Parish (1981), to “Aspects of Slovene Life in Haughville,” Indianapolis, where parents of the future mayor and many other immigrants had settled.

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By: Edward Gobetz

 

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