I was born in 1945 in March before World War II was over. My dad was in the Army and was stationed about 60 miles west of Fort Worth at a training base. At Camp Walters he was a cook. On 24/off 24. He could hitch hike home in a couple of hours and did so frequently. My mother and dad were married right after they graduated high school. This was a time where I lived that everyone could leave doors to your house unlocked and the windows up at night. No one (at least anyone I knew) had any money to speak of after the essentials where paid for by the end of the month.
In my town, air conditioning was a fantasy in the 1950’s and most neighborhoods sat out in the yard every evening in the spring, summer and fall. This allowed the houses to cool down from the heat of the day. Kids chased “lighting bugs” and adults drank tea and beer and talked about their day. The point is we knew who lived next door. The other point is that they mostly had the same color of skin as we did. Sorta off white or a pink color. Where we lived no one had domestic help. In my town as a kid, I did not see black or brown people unless we went downtown.
One of the stores in downtown Fort Worth was a huge department store called Leonard Brothers Department Store. (This store eventually built a subway for their patrons to ride from their parking lot to their store. FREE. It was about a mile in length.) It had a basement and 4 or 5 floors. The common consensus at that time was that if Leonard’s did not have it you probably did not need it. In the 1950’s, Leonard’s allow beggars to gather on the sidewalk area near the front door. There were blind men and women selling pencils and a couple of guys with no legs that rode around on little sleds with wheels using their hands to power themselves along. There was always a couple of evangelists street preaching. Sometimes there were singers and guitar players who sang and played old Gospel songs. As a youth, I wanted to go to Leonard’s as much as humanly possible. For me it was like a circus, I loved seeing those people. My mom and dad were not always agreeable. It made mom and dad uncomfortable. Some of those people were black or as they said (insert the N word here). This is where I first hear that word.
The grade schools I attended were all segregated. We lived at the edge of town in those days. At recess the boys and girls all separated into groups and played different games. Even the big college in Fort Worth had no black player at that time. The university was Texas Christian University. As this was a private church affiliated school the tuition was extremely expensive. I don’t know for sure but I would bet TCU did not have any black students in the 1950’s. Remember this is well before President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Bill. I have read articles where it was the opinion of the writer was that that was what turned Texas into a Red State. The older boys in high school used to talk about riding around and beating up black people if they were on the wrong side of the tracks. I never saw any of that or knew if it was just boys trying impress the other boys or if it were true.
The biggest thing for me about race is we (whites kids) never really thought about it because we never saw it any other way. Probably the only time I thought about race was a Leonard Brothers. There were separate toilets and separate drinking fountains. There were white ones and green ones. All that period is gone now and we as a nation are better for it being gone. After electing 43 white presidents were are posed to elect the first black president of the United States of America. (thanks to Mr Democrat for giving me that thought). It is about time.
Vote Obama/Biden ’08
Adios para ahora, mis amigos
Yo soy un demócrata amarillo del perro.
¡yo soy Horsedooty!