Last night I woke up at 2.30 and my radio was tuned in to KGO in San Francisco as usual. I always listen for a while to John Rothman when I first go to bed. Sometimes for hours, sometimes I can't remember a word he said for I was tired enough to go to sleep as soon as my head touched the pillow. That's what happened last night. And then I woke up too early and listened to Ray Thaliafero until five am when I got up to take a shower .
What I heard Ray say upset me SO much. He was correct but I never heard it before and it is true what he said. The discussion was about the governor of Arizona. Her latest edict is that there can be no studies in public schools about black or Mexican traditions. A man had called in saying: My parents came from Italy. They came legally, became citizens, and led fruitful lives. Why can't the Mexicans do the same? Ray said 'where your parents black?' No they were Italians. 'What color were they?' They were Italians. 'Were they brown? No they were Italians. Were they yellow? No they were white. Ah, they had no trouble getting to be citizens. Read up on our history and see what happened to the first chinese who came here. They were used to build our rail roads and then could not become citizens nor could they buy Real Estate. And how did the blacks get here. They were shipped in to become slaves. And how long before they could become citizens. And how long before they could ride the buses or eat in our restaurant? And what about the mexicans? When they come across the border because they want to earn money to send home, they work in the fields and live in sub standard housing, and get sub standard pay.
This is what I remember from this nocturnal conversation. I can not get this out of my mind. And what have I done during my ninety year long life to ease or help anyone so unfortunate. I remember paying a woman twice what she charged for doing my laundry in Georgia. She charged quarters and I paid her dollars. I did not have any money for we were paid $60 a month and our room and board, but her charge was ridiculous and she picked up and delivered. That is a tiny thing to put on my grave stone.
Maybe one other thing could be put there also. I never allowed anyone to use the N word in my presence. Even my step father-in-law. We were sitting at the dinner table in HIS house and he used it. I said I will eat in the kitchen if you must use that word. He never did it again and we had a fine relationship while Sam was overseas. But ninety years. I could have done more.
Maybe, one scary day when I had to drive around the Los Angeles area to find a town were we would like to move. The free ways were new to me. I was in Long Beach I think, when I saw a huge building in the distance and discovered that it was Sears.
I stopped and went in to ask were I could have a cup of coffee. They sent me to the seventh floor I think. I got a cup and looked around to see where I could sit. There were not many people there. I saw a table with a teenage boy and asked if i may sit. He nodded. Then I tried to start a conversation and realized he spoke no English. That was fun for me for I had had four lessons at the famous language school in New York. I tried and tried. Finally I made out that he was going to go to work someplace. I asked him about School and he hung his head and said no dinero. I said save money and later and he just got sadder and sadder. I had never seen anybody so without hope. I've never forgotten him. I hope now he is rich and honest .