Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Music

Change. I was telling a younger friend about my memories of 1968. I was only 10 years old, but I knew what was going on. Every night, I prayed to Jesus that my brother wouldn't be drafted and sent to Vietnam. In April, Martin Luther King was assassinated. Cities exploded--blocks and blocks of Detroit, Chicago, Washington, Baltimore and more burned during the riots that followed. In June, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. The United States of America was coming apart at the seams. Culture wars raged, even within my own family. I remember my mother, watching a news report about feminists and saying, her voice clotted with anger, "What do these women want?"

I called my mom the night Barack Obama became the President-elect. She's seen a lot--the Great Depression ("I thought it would never end") and World War II. She also remembers well the northern version of Jim Crow. Some time in the 1950s, while collecting donations for a club, she stopped in a sandwich shop in our little Ohio town. An African American man walked in. He wasn't from around there, but route 41, which connected Cleveland to Columbus ran right through Main Street. The man wanted to buy some food for his wife and young daughter, who waited in the car. The shop owner refused to serve him. Could his little girl at least use the rest room? He was denied that courtesy, as well. My mom said she always regretted not offering to let his family stop at our home. She was a newcomer in town, and was afraid of how she would be viewed. I can't honestly say I would have done any different in that time, or that place.

"I never believed I would see this in my lifetime," she said, through tears of joy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"What do these women want?"

I could totally see your mom saying that.

Larry B.