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Upon Their Hands They Will Carry you
Page 18

Hoards of Children

"This depression Iíve suffered is a result of being alone, too much alone." I pressed Rodney to hear me out. "I know how to remedy that. Thereís a whole city of people surely I can find them."

"After the meeting I want to drive around this town. We have really not seen very much of it. Sunday is a good time to drive down town, too. There wonít be any traffic."

Rodney didnít know what my plan was but he was willing to do what he could to make me happy.

We did drive around the town. The downtown area was particularly of interested because this was where the Hightower Building showed lovely pieces of art displayed in their windows.

Reno street was another section altogether out of this world as far as being unique. The old street has been done away with in the sense of what it was then. An unending number of junk stores once lined both sides. Every antique imaginable could be found.

"What a treasure this is!" I was excited. "We must come back when they are open."

Rodney loved that sort of thing too, so it was a nice find for him as well, and how many fun times we did come back to poke through all the found troves of interesting things.

Here was a drug store and we got out for a soda only to discover after ordering that we were in the segregated part of town. The proprietor was friendly, even though some of the folks walking by didnít seem to be happy with our presence. It wasnít a time to dawdle and with a few sips on our drink we left in a hurry and laughed so hard after we had driven off because of our ignorance.

It could be said this was a sign of the times in 1960 but sadly the conditions are still there. Just a few years ago we stopped in a Churchís Chicken place in this part of town and still we were treated with distrust because of the difference in the color of our skin.

I who loved my mother as my mother and didnít wonder about the warm browns of her skin other than this was a most beauteous part of her and I could only laugh, if not out loud, about these entrenched behaviors. There is no anger, not an understanding, no belief in one or another stigmas of such. What other emotion can be called up other than nervous laughter from someone like me who feels like a flat board marked with squares where people are playing a game. White checkers in direct conflict with black checkers with each jumping over the other in order to win.

"Crown me! Crown me!" I laughed out loud. "Iím all across the board now."

Rodney had not an idea of what I spoke and didnít even ask.

The capital building was special. There was such a big area of grounds around it. Neither of us wanted to walk that much so the sites were seen from out of our car windows. It was lovely to see the beautiful old homes around the capital. All was sedate, quiet and looked to be uninhabited. Not one person made an appearance on the sidewalks.

Rodney took our car around the Classen Circle and up that drive. Oh my! The homes were so beautiful in 1959. These were huge old mansions like no one could imagine. I only wished we could have stopped and walked through each one of them, but, of course, that was a foolish thought. They must surely have owners, although, no one was available outside or around them.

Finally, we came to a much older part of town on Elliot street, close to Northwest 10th. The houses were large but it was evident that these places were rental properties. Gone was the polished look of a house owned by an individual. Instead, shabbiness in some careless repairs and drab color made for what could be called a slum area. There was a bright situation there and I was quick to see it.

"Look,! Rod! Do you see all the children playing outdoors? This is the first Iíve seen inhabitants. They are a bit tattered looking but; nevertheless, visible. Letís drive some more in this neighborhood and see if there is something here to rent. Iíll bet there is.

"You donít want to live in this part of town?" Rodney wasnít too happy about that decision.

"Well! Yes! Yes I do, that is if we can find a place.

Sure enough, sandwiched in between two or three large houses was what looked to have been something like an old servants quarters which had been turned into four apartments. As we were getting out of the car to look there were hoards of children who were asking us all sorts of questions.

"Lady! Is that your kid? How old is she? Can she talk? Are you going to move in here?" One of the older boys was the leader and wasnít afraid to ask and know what our business was to be in his neighborhood.

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