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Cynth'ya Lewis

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Confessions to Mama
By Cynth'ya Lewis
Sunday, October 30, 2005

Rated "G" by the Author.

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           >> View all 82

The way it was. . .

July 14, 1955

Dear Mama:

Becoming the only child of a young widow, I saw firsthand the results of segregation. To me it seemed normal for grown up brown skinned people to be afraid to speak to whites.  

Daddy was outspoken. They would have killed him anyway if the doctors had not killed him first with negligence. A crime, still the same. . . but it could not be proved.

Oh how often I wonder what would have happened if Johnny Cochan knew my father.

You remarried when I was four years old. And I thought I was going to some party. And there I sat in the wooden fold-up Sherman Street church pew, feet adorned in frilly blue lace anklets and black patent leather shoes. Hair all ponytailed up with blue satin bows. Trying to keep my tears from showing. Who is this man you say "I do" to? And why does he never speak to me?

I feel betrayed. Sometimes in my sleep, I still do. Why didn't you talk about my daddy? And when I bring up the subject, why do I get passed off to the others who wonder why a mother won't tell?

But he treated you well. You said he did. And so did Father Number Two. Why, I 'spect he treated you so well that he took on extra work as a mechanic in a town where white was always right. And being as black as he was, he learned what to say and when not to press an issue. Such a hard worker. Factory pipefitter by day, and sometimes by night. Then automechanic in the afternoons. You drove "Big Red"--now that was a living room on wheels disguised as a Buick. I have nothing but good to say about all the rides we took in Big Red. No air conditioning, and just a static-plagued a.m. radio that only got the gospel station and WHUT. But it still makes me smile on the inside.

Big Red would cruise down Barrow Avenue to 41st Street, and we'd park in the back of The Alibi. Remember, the KKK had meetings there. But they knew how much the Negroes loved KFC, and even though we could not sit down in the restaurant until the early 1970s. . . when black women were still forced into secret pregnancy by the will of curious white men--like Uncle Ted was with Great Grandmama Savannah--we could still pull up back, place our order at the window, and they'd hand us the bucket.

And I thought we were only doing what we were supposed to do. But you never taught me about Rosa. Guess that's because Daddy was six feet under when she decided to keep her seat on that segregated bus down south.

But oh we sure had fun, there on the corner of 23rd and Halford. We were a big block party kind of family. Even the few white folks too poor to live in the "good" neighborhoods were parents to some of my best friends, like Doris with her Chinese haircut, and Gayla with her bright Irish locks, and Cindy, my friend that looked so much like Pippi Longstocking. . . only prettier. Yep, those were certainly the days.

Then there was this nice house built on an east side field. It was way out in the country. Just a few negroes who had "made it" lived out there. It felt wrong to me.

Then at age 12, when the Civil Rights Movement was barely two years old,  we moved to a place where we were not wanted. The neighbors, now your best friends in old age, put up "Wallace for President" signs in 1966. We made fun of his wife. . . she didn't like us color'd kids. But what's a body to do when the world hates you for being blacker than their skin, but not as black as their souls?

(Very tired now. . . this will be continued every 2-3 days, Thank you for staying tuned for the next sequence . .  Alone In the Middle)

© 2005 cynth’ya lewis reed

All rights reserv’d


       Web Site: Cynth'ya Lewis Reed at Authors Den

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Reviewed by Audrey Lewis 11/22/2011
This is my first time reading this article and it brought on tears and stirred me in the deepest way - like in the pit of my gut. probably because the "daddy" she refers to was my daddy's brother. Very profound and very well done. I love you, cousin. God bless you. Audrey
Reviewed by Sandra Mushi 10/31/2005
Excellent, profound write Cynth'ya!

God bless,

Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 10/31/2005
great write, cynth'ya; very well done!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in tx., karen lynn. :D
Reviewed by Birgit and Roger Pratcher 10/31/2005
Thanks for sharing these thoughts in such a beautiful style, we can't wait to read on tomorrow.
Hugs, Birgit and Roger
Reviewed by Carole Mathys 10/31/2005
I can only imagine what a confusing time that was for a young person trying to understand why....a very insightful write Cynth'ya.

love and peace, Carole
Reviewed by Tinka Boukes 10/30/2005
Excellent offering!!

Love Tinka

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