Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Childhood Glimpses: My friend Joan

I have a friend from church who has written out many of her memories from her childhood up. It so happens Joan is just a few years older than I am, and she happens to come from the same hometown, even though we never knew each other until we became members of the same church in a different community. With her husband's help, Joan has had these memories printed and bound in a book. This is something so wonderful for her children and grandchildren, and the generations following. Imagine what this will mean to them when she's gone. She was kind enough to make enough copies for most of us in the congregation, and I have to say I treasure this book. I probably feel this way more than many of the others because I can really identify with her recollections of life in that small town we grew up in. I was only three years or so behind her.

However, there was one area where our experiences were quite different. You see, Joan and I are of different ethnicity and that, of course, affected many areas of our lives. This was especially true of life in the fifties, even in the northeast. Recent events in Florida have caused so much emotion, unfortunately some of it cutting to the core of race relations in our dear country. I don't need to go too far into this except to say that some things I've seen and heard brought to my mind an account by Joan in a chapter she wrote about the integration of her school when she was in the eighth grade. I love the way she closed that chapter, which I'll quote here with no further comment. 

"We look back at some of the great problems as our nation began its long struggle out of the unfortunate ways of racial segregation. We often remember only the worst times. I have experienced the quieter side of change. I see the quiet dignity of a beautiful girl who was denied access because of her color but persevered with her dream. [She had earlier discussed a black girl who wanted to be a model.] I remember something else we learned in eighth grade. When one of our new classmates hit his head on the sharp edge of a wooden goal post on the playground, he bled from the cut. His blood was the same color as mine." ~ Joan B.

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