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F William (Bill) Broome

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Inhuman Relations
By F William (Bill) Broome
Friday, May 19, 2006

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A fictitious peek into race relations in the southern states before more human solutions came into the lives of all citizens.

Inhuman Relations

You had told me that you had never been in the South before you came to see me in Atlanta back in 1950. The time was when things weren’t right between the South’s people, when half of the people riding street cars sat in back, and the other half occupied front seats.

I recall meeting your train from Philadelphia, and a lack of taxi money put us, and your two bags, on a street car for the short ride to the small hotel where we would carry out a rendezvous with raw passion, posing as young love.

You and I had met earlier when I attended a business conference in the city where you worked, Philadelphia. Your friends and mine had invited you to be my dinner date. The three of you lived in Doylstown, outside the big city. Our dinner was fun, but you and I wanted to go dancing, so we said goodnight to them, and went to dance in the hotel ballroom. We danced to heavenly music for an hour or so before floating up to my room, where we danced far beyond the moon and planets; all the way to the stars and back to our satiated world.

An hour or so before dawn, I recall vividly, a taxi took us to your home in Doylstown and the sweet kisses in your parting promise to come to Georgia soon. Riding back, I remember telling the taxi driver that I never knew about people working in Philadelphia and living half way to New York. He laughed, and later, relieved me of more money than I earned in a week. .

You were looking over my home town of Atlanta from a street car window, as I point with pride to several notable buildings. Our day changed drastically as two students from the all black college nearby, enter and drop into seats between two customary sections; for white people in the front, and black people in the back. Immediately, the young men were challenged by an apparent farm boy, turned hourly worker, and self appointed guardian of custom and its rules.. He ordered them to move back a few rows. Their seats were not in the section for whites, so they refused.

And, I recall the bully threatening them without results, provoking him to forcibly pull both from their seats. A frightening scuffle began, and the police were called, who placed the three under arrest and took them away. You were quiet and speechless during several blocks before we left the trolley and stood in front of the hotel. But, as I gestured toward the entrance, you didn’t budge. I asked why, and your answer stunned me, “I can’t stay here.”

When I suggested another hotel, your response was shocking and final, “And, I will not enjoy anything in a city whose people treat others the way I saw today.” I couldn’t believe that you were putting such importance on an everyday happening, and remember laughing softly about such a thing.

Your “Irish” was up, as you said firmly, “I want you to take me back to the train station where I will go back to my people in Doylstown on the next train,” she stated defiantly. That was followed by, “I’m sorry I can’t stay, but what I saw tells me that your people here have no respect for others, so I don’t want to be around them.”

My protesting plea was met with a personal attack, I recall. You said something about my being a part of the South, and, “You are one of them,” and that you no longer had any feeling for me. That convinced me that you were totally serious, so we boarded the street car for a precarious ride back to Terminal Station. I was deeply hurt, too, when you wouldn’t talk with me as we waited until past midnight for your train. You did thank me for the sandwich and coffee, but the dessert of a parting kiss wasn’t offered along with my early morning snack.

While waiting, I remember how ridiculous and stupid I thought you were being about an isolated incident having nothing to do with us. The entire experience stayed in the back of my memories until years later, when a brave seamstress on a bus in Montgomery, and a fearless minister from Atlanta, proved me to be so terribly wrong.

Today, watching a news program on TV, showing the honoring of these two history making Southerners, I pictured you, now, a fat little grey haired grandmother, who, long ago, had no taste for the old and prejudiced South. My recall included our fabulous togetherness in Philadelphia, and the abrupt ending of it all in Atlanta.

I long to let you know of the continuing ache in my heart for you. and that during the many years after our short time together; my work provided opportunities for me to help my South change drastically. In that time, programs were adopted and carried out giving opportunities for all young and older people to succeed in several Southern cities where I lived.

You might be proud, too, that such work helped further the ending of human segregation and humiliation in the backward Southern states. And, I believe you would approve of my part in the work of the long overdue movement, which might never have been offered to me, had I not, in 1950, traveled to, and gone dancing in, your big city of Philadelphia.


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Reviewed by Michael Kersting 1/26/2010
Interesting write !
Reviewed by Lois Christensen 7/8/2008
Very good story and has a good ending to it. Your travels helped you see the light. We all should be able so to see the light and forget about predudice. We are all God's people whomever we be, wherever, we live for God alone to help us.
Reviewed by Walt Hardester 6/7/2007
Fiction the story may have been,
but only the names were changed to protect the innocent. The story line was very much a fact of life back then. And in some ways continues to this very day.
I'm not at all proud of that part of my southern heritage.

Reviewed by Guy Hogan 1/16/2007
Bill, Martin Luther King day was yesterday. I just happen to stumble across this story and was struck by its simple, straight forward honesty. It's my kind of fiction. Thanks.
Reviewed by Missy Cross 5/19/2006
Bill, what a poignant story. You show real courage here in presenting the inconvenient truth that it's so easy to be blind to injustices around us. Deeply moving, indeed. You have a rare gift for painting epic emotions with the clarity of your pen... I didn't just read this, I experienced it. That's a real gift!
Reviewed by Birgit and Roger Pratcher 5/19/2006
Bill, this was a brilliant, deeply moving and thought provoking write. Thank you for sharing this.
Birgit and Roger

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