BW and I live in suburban west Indianapolis in Plainfield. We are born and bred Hoosiers, Caucasians. I grew up on a farm she on a farmlet.
After about a year of marriage, I began to serve my military obligation in the U.S. Navy assigned to the U.S. Naval Mine Base, Charleston, SC. The deep south. The people there were still fighting the Civil War.
Racial segregation flourished in the South that Rhett and Scarlet knew. There were white and black water fountains, Schools, theaters, churches, restaurants. The thought of dating and intermarriage would bring talk of hanging, shootings and all-out war between the races. Black residents who worked as maids, gardeners or servants had to be out of white town before sundown.
After that we lived a short time in Louisiana and then in Arkansas before moving back to Indiana in the 60s. We know segregation by its first name.
Last week we spent some time in Montgomery, Alabama, as part of a two week spring trip. In February 1861 Montgomery became the first capital of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis presiding; later moving to Richmond, Virginia, to represent a clear threat to the White House. We visited the information center, the state house, the renown Baptist church where Martin Luther King preached, the Hank Williams museum and other attractions.
One of the must see places was the Rosa Parks Museum. We know all about that noble lady. She said "No" in 1955 when asked to get up and give her seat to a white rider. Her courage ignited The Civil Rights revolution that did not end until that piece of paper crossed the desk of Pres. Lyndon Johnson ending segregation.
The doors opened and we entered. Many black elementary students came in to learn their history which was altogether fitting and proper. They comported themselves most properly. The room continued to fill with 95% black patrons and about six Caucasians including BW and me. We were seated in a sort of "L" shaped arrangement. Seating was first come first served.
As the room filled two elderly black ladies entered. I stood and motioned to one of them to take my seat. This is what a gentleman does wherever he is. She smiled at me and nodded "No, thank you." I motioned again. She respectfully declined and squeezed in another place with some people she knew. I motioned to the second lady who was struggling to walk and it was evident she would have trouble standing. If I say a person is elderly, write it down that person is elderly. I know elderly. Some of my best friends are elderly. I know how they act, how they talk, how they walk and even how they sit and get up. She graciously accepted my seat.
As I said earlier 95% of the attendees were African Americans. They seated themselves as they entered. The group was mixed male and female and was tilted toward the over fifty set. Many members of the group were men. I sat beside a black man. None stood to offer these two ladies a seat. The irony of this setting did not escape me.
My website Larryvandeventer.com - Read about my books, buy them, and my columns. Larry Vandeventer grew up North of Calvertville on a farm and graduated from Worthington High School and Indiana State U. -- four times. He can be reached at Goosecrick@aol.com or 317-839-7656.