Friday, October 10, 2008

WHEN I WAS A KID


I grew up in a small town. A town where football ruled during the fall. Summers were filled with Little League Baseball and hours of swimming. To go to a mall, or a movie, one simply had to drive to the nearest "big city" (pop. 108,000), a mere 30 miles away.

I grew up as an only child, but I had 2 cousins that lived in the house just across the street. One cousin is 10 months younger and her brother 3 years younger. We did everything together for YEARS. We lived in an area of town that was right on the line separating the blacks and the whites.

Now, if you know me at all, you know that I'm not being racist in the slightest...also, if you lived in my town (or know the area) you know that I speak the truth when I say that there was a wall (which is still standing, by the way) that kept the whites in their neighborhood and the blacks in theirs. My kindergarten building used to be the black school. I often walked passed the shut-down black pool, and would swing and slide in the white park...being able to see the black park. The only thing we lacked were the signs that indicated the drinking fountains for "colored only." (And I'm sure they were there at one point.)

SO....my cousins and I would play in the street (on this border) a game that we made up. The street that crossed between my house and my cousins' house was 2nd street. It led to a grocery store (going East) and led into the black neighborhood (going West). Then going North, Katherine Street would go to the livestock pens and finally, going South, the road would lead to the swimming pool. (That was desegregated.)

The name of this game was "CAR!" And let me tell you....HOURS of fun, my friend. HOURS we would play this game...standing in the middle of the the intersection. We were lucky to spot about 10 cars an hour, but we loved it.

This is the gist of the game....

We decided that we couldn't have anyone driving a car see us. What would happen? We haven't a clue, so stealthy we were...so good at avoiding detection...we were never spotted, thus never finding out what horrors awaited the one who was caught.

Our escape was simply running to my yard to hunker down behind the 2 foot tall, cinder block fence. OR, we could run to my cousins' yard to peer twixt the branches of the Crape Myrtle. As this would only work when the thing was in bloom and leafed out, we would often find that we had no choice but to throw ourselves on the ground face first, flat as we could get and eyes pinched shut....because you know the rule....if you can't see them, they can't see you!

Our warning system was the most sophisticated of the day. We would stand and watch for cars. When one was spotted, all shimmery in the heat, floating on the apparent lake that hung on the horizon, we would holler at the top of our lungs, "CAR!" Then we would give the location. This information was vital to our escape plan.

Now, before I go on....let me refer you to paragraph 3. I am NOT racist, but my grandfather was, as was a lot of the town. Nurture over nature my friend...we talked as any self-respectin' redneck was expected to talk.

So the following are the 4 most common warnings that could be heard:

"CAR! Coming down Circle M Road!"

"CAR! Coming down N****r Road!"

"CAR! Coming down Pool Road!"

"CAR! Coming down Sheep Pen Road!"

Creative, no?

So difficult was the game if there were 2 cars coming from 2 different locations at the same time.

You will be happy to know that neither my cousins, nor I, ever got caught. We were able to escape the cars, as well as our prejudices, to lead relatively normal lives.

2 comments:

Mommy Spice said...

My cousins and I played similar games as far as hiding from cars, people, and such. I spent much of my childhood in north Dallas, so there were no separations that I knew of then. I do remember the first time I realized there was "tension" between the two races. There was one black girl in my second grade class. I remember her name. She lived in some apartments near me. I wanted to play with her one day, so I asked my grandmother to take me to her door so I could ask if she could play. My grandmother warned me that her mother might not let her play with me, but took me anyway. When I knocked on their door, I met her mother. She was very polite, but would not let me play with her daughter. That was the first time I saw the difference between black and white.

Miss Paula said...

How creative!! I like that! I remember when the neighbor kids and I made a fort and thought we needed a fireplace....you get the drift! But now, everything is electronic. No creativity! Bummer for the kids now adays!