Home > Uncategorized > Entry for March 26, 2008

Entry for March 26, 2008

Racism is something we have become very sensitive to in this country. My father and his family is what I would call racist. They came from the south and believed they were competing with the negro for work and affluence. My father had a good job. He was a foreman in a railroad yard. My mother also worked and I grew up in a nice sub-urban community. One black girl and one black boy went to school with me and I remember their names. They didn’t do very well in school but another black student above me by 4 years was on the basketball team and appeared to be quite a scholar.
There were advocates of Kennedy in my neighborhood and not all strictly catholics although catholics attending catholic school were well represented there. My mother had been a catholic and her first 2 children form her first marriage were catholics. They all went to public school. So, I was sensitive as my mom besides formerly being catholic was also of Irish descent. I was only 7 years old when John Kennedy ran for president but I remember the importance of my support.
My father’s family was from the south and baptist, but dad himself who drank a quart of Fleischman’s in a week including the weekend when he mostly slept, called himself a heathen. It seems he thought he was part indian. Since most weekends you could see him in his boxer shorts and sleeveless undershirt the image of an american indian with little but moccasins and a hatchet easily comes to mind.
That was the standard image of the indian in those days, violent and ignorant. Dee Brown, who wrote Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee did much to mitigate this idea. If you read another book by Mr. Brown, who was actually born before my father, you will learn of the railroads hiring southern men to ameliorate the hostility the south still felt toward the railroads even in the 20th century.
So, my father was something I had to overcome in my life though he claimed to his death he was a great blessing to me. He supported me. And presumably my mom but my mom didn’t need any support as she was a working woman. My father had had a child before who needed support but that boy’s mother did not work.
I just want to point out the sensitivity we have to racism in America. My father was a racist and I was not.
When my father retired with mom and moved back to Florida I took a lot of hard shots for being for desegregation. Actually, I could take those shots up north as well where I expressed sympathy for the Black Panthers and others even though I had been told of injustices my peers found in a book called “Black Rage.” We had a rivalry with a black high school in sports and a favorite story was of the black high schooler’s overturning a bus when they lost to that high school. I never knew how true that was or whether it was our high school to which they referred. I believe it was – at first.
So, when I moved south there was apparently a high school that was not so desegregated and mom wanted me to go to it. My cousins went to a school that was more fully desegregated or so they told it. Actually, according to them the high school mom had wanted me to go to was not desegregated at all which made mom look like a hypocrite. I never found out about the status of that school’s desegregation. It was my understanding from the Supreme Court decision that all schools in the south had to desegregate, but I was still very young and not inclined to challenge my cousins who were older than me and showing me a good time.
It’s strange how all this has come out and I am just trying to tell you about the time I was in Orlando. I had visited the Keys with an older friend of mine and we had ideas of buying pot down there and carrying it with us back to our little Gainesville to sell. We had been taken in the Keys by some fellows who needed money claiming they had pot to sell. We still had some money left, canadian as my friend had come from Canada. I had split up with him when he went into a grocery store. He had thought we could get a job there and thus have a little extra cash. He was in the store for such a long time and I was out on the road. I had a romance with the road. I loved putting my thumb up and “catching” that ride. I guess I longed to be home and I couldn’t admit it. I put my thumb up and caught a ride. I wasn’t going to eat out of the back of dumpsters as my friend Bob had suggested we might do. I caught a ride with a Joe Cocker fan and it was a good long ride but I had to get off somewhere. I remember coming to Orlando and deciding I could take a bus ride to G’ville. They wouldn’t take canadian cash in Orlando. I saw some of the police force physically molesting a young black man. I guess the fellow was quite a hood. The officer had hold of his hand and was pushing the young man’s fingers back causing him a good bit of anguish. I was sensitive, as I said to racial issues and I didn’t appreciated what the southern Sherriff’s Deputy was doing. Soon a couple of other, older black fellows came in and started talking to me. I told them about the canadian cash and they took me somewhere presumably to get coke. They took me on a long ride to somewhere where somebody was supposed to live who would get me some coke. One fellow went in while another stayed with me in the car. When the fellow came out with the “coke” he never showed it to me or let me try it. I guess I had over a hundred or more in canadian cash but the fellows treated me like they were cops and I was a hood. They drove down the rode and stopped the car. They got me out of it and searched me. They took my wallet and all the money that was in it. When I got back home I found out it wasn’t coke at all but most likely headache powder. Nobody who snorted it got off. BP Powder.
Well, I guess you could blame a bus station that wouldn’t take foreign currency but you could also blame my naivete and innocence about racial issues. I had called my mom as I recollect. I may have called friends. I’m not sure who I called since I didn’t have a dime that wasn’t canadian.
It was a great embarrassment to me.

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