Summertime, 1938

Discussion in 'Reading & Writing' started by Richard Paradon, Feb 16, 2015.

  1. Richard Paradon

    Richard Paradon Well-Known Member
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    (I wrote this story a few years ago after talking with a friend about prejudice. It is not really me nor is the story true although I suppose it could be)
    Summertime, 1938. I was only a young lad then, but my heart was exploding with joy! The brownstones in the Bronx were my home. And the arena of my life was within the four blocks surrounding our apartment.

    My older brother woke me up early one morning and told me that Mom and Dad were planning to take us on a trip. It would be my first one and I was so excited I was shaking. I couldn't imagine what it would be like to drive in the car and go to a new and exciting place.

    Two days later the city was far behind us. All we could see besides the narrow road was green. Big trees and fields of everything you could find in a bowl of vegetable soup!

    My father had put some sandwiches close to the engine in tin foil so that they would be hot to eat in a few hours when the sun started to go down. The first time he did this my brother and I just looked at each other and grinned; we could not believe what he did, but the food was hot and delicious.

    On the fourth day of our serendipity we found ourselves in a small southern city. My dad pulled into a gas station and asked the owner to please fill up the tank. The man replied, “Boy, do you know where you are? We don’t sell to coloreds here, now get your black ass out of here while you can”.

    I started to cry, what was this man telling my father, nobody ever talked like that at home. Even my brother was scared. I started to say something, and my father told me sharply, just be still. It was a voice I never recognized but I paid attention.

    Maybe thirty or so minutes later we were in a different section of the city and all we saw were people like us. My father got the car filled up and we started on the way home, where my real summer vacation started.
     
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  2. Pat Baker

    Pat Baker Well-Known Member
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    Thanks for the story. I can't imagine what life was life for my parents back then in the south. Most of my family moved up north for jobs, although we still have family in the south.
     
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  3. Richard Paradon

    Richard Paradon Well-Known Member
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    I am not a black person but grew up in New York and when I was in the South (early '60s) I could not believe all the bias determined by a person's color. Hopefully it is a lot better now, but I am sure that there will always be a certain amount of "rednecks" around.
     
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  4. Priscilla King

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    I think it was worse in cities. A dynamic that's always interested me was that it wasn't always even about hate; people of good will thought rigid color lines would boost minority-owned business.

    As late as 1988 I was surprised to find two convenience stores as close together as they were in Alexandria Old Town. I usually bought lunch at the one closer to the job I was doing, but one day I went into the other one just to see what they had. By the way people looked at me I could tell...they had a clientele who wanted to keep that "by us and for us" thing going, and I was probably the Whitest person who'd been in the store in many years. They were polite, and the food was up to standard. I never went back though. Why freak them out, and anyway I had no quarrel with the other store.
     
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  5. Richard Paradon

    Richard Paradon Well-Known Member
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    Perhaps after so many years of being depressed, the safety in numbers factor comes up. Sad. I remember when my brother and I were kids we went to Florida and used to love sitting on the bus seats that were directly over the tires as we wanted the bumpy ride. We got a lot of strange looks as we were sitting in the "colored" seats. This was probably in 1955.
     
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  6. Ouch! I like your story very much, but ouch! You summed up what it must have been like for generations of black children, whose innocence was heartlessly stripped from them in such a way. As a reader, I began the journey as blind as the child in your story. I like that there was no mention of race; the reader is as unaware of it, as is the child. The realization of the truth is a like a cold splash in the face to both child and reader, and evokes a response. For a writer and a reader, the ouch is good.
     
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  7. Richard Paradon

    Richard Paradon Well-Known Member
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    Hi Yesterday...welcome and thanks for your words. Most of my stories are totally Hitchcock in nature, but occasionally one will come with a bit of reality.
     
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