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(51,794 posts)
Thu Feb 7, 2019, 07:42 PM Feb 2019

Just a real life story....

In 1957, I was 9 years old and suddenly there was a major shift in my world. My 43 year old father had a serious heart attack and was told to stop working. My dad was a full time Chevolet parts manager and farmed 225 acres in his spare time.

So, we left Ohio and my rural grade school (class of 18 kids) and headed to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. There I was appalled by the strange teaching methods I found in my new school where there were 6 fourth grades! We were divided into teams and there were all kinds of point systems.

It was a much different world from the corn fields and woods of Ohio. I saw water fountains and restrooms labeled 'black' and 'white'. There were no African Americans in my school. I saw the shabby 'black' school and the neighborhoods blacks were to live in. I was even called a 'damn Yankee'.

The biggest shock came with participation in my grade school's annual 'minstrel show'. My mother tried to explain what these shows were. I had to learn a bunch of Southern songs and I had one speaking line. I can't recall what my set up for the punchline was, but I had to call out, "Mr. Interlocutor, Mr. Interlocutor!" Then I asked my question and the interlocutor responded, making a joke.
And they covered our faces with black makeup. They left white circles around our mouths and eyes.

As the years passed, I realized how awful all this was. But I don't believe I was given an opportunity to opt out. 3 years later I was back in Ohio and began to support the Civil Rights movement. Been an activist and a Democrat ever since.

People do become enlightened and they can change over time. And what is unacceptable in society also changes with time. That's how we progress.

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(23,562 posts)
1. I appreciate your story.
Thu Feb 7, 2019, 08:04 PM
Feb 2019

What a culture shock for you!
I agree wholeheartedly that people can become enlightened if they are willing to keep an open mind and heart. Society and culture can follow suit. If one can be judged by the terrible thing that they have done then it seems fair to also judge them for the good things they have done. When is a screw up so bad that we don’t give someone another chance? I don’t know the answer but it’s a question worth asking.


(2,952 posts)
3. I'm close to your age and from the north, never knew it was like this in Florida back then.
Fri Feb 8, 2019, 12:07 PM
Feb 2019

Thanks for sharing!


(28,176 posts)
6. A side question..
Fri Feb 8, 2019, 03:28 PM
Feb 2019

Did your dad make it into old age?

That sad experience in FL probably greatly shaped who you are today, a very compassionate person.


(51,794 posts)
8. Yes, he survived two bypass surgeries, but died from heart failure,
Fri Feb 8, 2019, 06:27 PM
Feb 2019

in a hospital, at age 75. Thank you for asking. He returned to Ohio and bought another farm. He loved farming.


(1,323 posts)
7. I was 9 in Florida school in 1957, too!
Fri Feb 8, 2019, 03:49 PM
Feb 2019

But, I don't remember doing blackface, but do remember my father doing it on stage somewhere in Ft. Lauderdale.

Also remember segregated water fountains, bathroom, schools, etc.

One time I went to get a drink at a "coloreds only" water fountain in a department store. My mother screamed at me not to touch it. I went ahead and got a drink. I couldn't understand what the big deal was.


(109,197 posts)
9. Even in the best of circumstances a move at that age is difficult.
Fri Feb 8, 2019, 06:40 PM
Feb 2019

But in your case you moved to an entirely different culture. That must have been quite a shock.

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