Letter from a Poor White Kid
I have been listening to a podcast or two of yours about white kids at black schools. It reminded me of my earlier life, (I’m 65).
From the age of 2 until 9 years old, I lived in Florida. My father/family were reasonably well off. We lived in Fort Pierce, in a gorgeous poured concrete, flat roofed house that we owned. One day my father decided we needed a swimming pool and some very extensive landscaping, so he had it done. Yacht clubs, country clubs, etc. etc.
He was gruff, easy to anger, but generally, looking back, life was pretty good, I didn’t know any difference at 2 to 9 years old.
School was ‘school’, no big deal, it took away from my fishing time, but I just accepted it as something I had to do. I didn’t know from nothin’ about race issues. Then we moved back, (I was born in), Wisconsin.
We moved to the “township”, more like the reservation, as I would come to later find out. School was still just school, lucky me, I was still blissfully ignorant of race issues, never had any interactions with ‘negros’, as I knew them to be called at the time.
Fourth, fifth, and sixth grade on the ‘reservation’, then the shit hit the fan! My folks got divorced and my bucolic life was forever changed.
My father, naturally get the house while having to purchase another for my mother and us. It was in a reasonably nice subdivision, but it was in the city. As we moved in the summertime, I still didn’t know the significance of living in the city school district, I mean school is school right?
Oh my f*cking God! What a horrid, rude awakening! I had no idea ‘people’ could/would act like that! Running up and down the halls screaming and yelling, didn’t they know any better, didn’t their parents admonish, (beat) them if/when they displayed that behavior? I’m speaking about the ‘blacks’ of course.
I was bewildered, what happened, where was I. My father was probably clueless about what he had done, I got the general impression that he didn’t like me all that well, but he would never do this to me intentionally.
The behavior ‘they’ displayed, movies like this weren’t even made yet. Walking around mechanical drawing with ‘his’ phallus exposed, another one striking a 65 year old math teacher in the face.
Then they came after me one day. After school, at least a dozen of them. I had no idea what transgression or slight I had done. After about 5 or 10 minutes of deflecting blows, I flagged down a passing car that thankfully rescued me and took me home.
I don’t remember any subsequent actions the next day or thereafter. But it was enough for me to know I ‘wasn’t in Kansas anymore’.
Anyway, sorry to prattle on.
Next stage of my life. Married, great factory job, just had our brick bungalow redone, copper plumbing, new combination wood/gas furnace,rewired with circuit breakers, new roof. We were set…until…
My four year old son comes home from riding his bike around the block and tells me, “dad some black people sent their dog after me”.
Then it hit me; we lived in the city and my son was approaching school age, we had to move. Move from this really nice brick bungalow that, oh, did I mention that we just had the hardwood floors redone? I said to my then wife, “we have to move”.
Move we did, to the ‘reservation’, to a nice English Tudor on a 700 foot deep lot,high up on a hill.
Sad to say, we got divorced and she got the house, my how times change…
But, I had one job, I got my children the hell out of that black school district. No blacks in the neighborhood either.