Good Old Days?

In the early 60's, I worked in a Phillips 66 Gas Station in Wichita. Having grown up in an all white neighborhood on the east side of town, I had little contact or knowledge of blacks.  To be period correct, colored people.  At the station, there was a fellow from Cherry Point, one of those Carolinas and he was the first educated racist I ever met.  Most of the white trailer trash in my neighborhood called the blacks or colored, niggers.  Most of them didn't complete High School and worked in manual labor jobs.  The fellow I worked with had attended a couple of years of college and was in the Air Force.  I assume that other than he talked funny, he was fairly well educated.

For the purpose of this story, I will just call him Johnny (short for Johnny Reb). One of the first things I noticed was that if a car owned by coloreds would pull up on the drive, Johnny would find a way to not be the first one out to serve them.  Me, I knew that it all paid the same and I for the life of me didn't care who or what was driving the car.  Back in those days, we not only put gas in the tank, we cleaned the windows, checked the oil and asked the customer if they wanted me to vacuum the front floor.  Johnny would maybe clean the driver's window if the owner was colored but to raise the hood or vacuum would be a bridge too far for him. 

One day I asked him about his childhood back home.  he said that when he and his momma would walk down the street the black men would step off the sidewalk and tip their hats as they passed by.  He told me that once young black man didn't do that and his daddy knocked him off the sidewalk and said something about teaching that nigger a lesson.  That just didn't compute in my book.

In my perfect world, we raise our children all the same.  We encourage them to do well, work hard, get a good education and they will be a success.  I encourage you all to smile and greet everyone everyone with the same smile as you pass through the day.   It will surprise you how many people that kind of the people that formally would not look at you or smile will actually look up and smile back.  My greeting is "howdy" like in the old westerns and it just makes me smile. If they have a child, I always say how cute they are.  Never fails to get a smile back.

I am sure that my momma would want me to be the same with everyone.  Hope you will.


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