Jerseydevil posted a topic that triggered a memory that may or may not be interesting. Apparently Steve Deace created the hypothetical of whether a black caterer could be forced to serve a convention of white supremacists.

So there is so much about my mom that I probably never knew. Her life before she married my father was largely kept private. My parents spent their honeymoon in Key West – they rode the Greyhound Bus from Pittsburgh and the half way point was Statesville North Carolina. They stayed overnight in a hotel across the street from the bus station and my father (who was blind) had memories of the bus station having birds in the waiting room. When he decided it was time to leave Pittsburgh behind, Statesville was on the top of the list of candidates. We had no relatives there, no connections and pretty naive about the culture. I loved the place and adapted. My parents, not so much.

So after we had lived there about eight years and I was living in Charlotte, my parents got involved in the senior center that was operated by the City of Statesville. My parents decided they wanted to be the President of the Senior Citizens club and were elected as co-president. The local daily Newspaper was remarkably active for a such a small town and would cover the happenings of the club.

So as it turns out, there were actually two senior clubs in town – one black and one white (this is in the late 1970s). I don’t know if my mother was a social crusader or just naive, but she proposed that the two clubs should have a joint meeting and get to know each other. They agreed on a pot luck lunch with people bringing in food to share. The guy who ran the recreation department liked the idea. Maybe he was the one who suggested it.

So the day comes and people show up, but there is a problem. The old white women don’t trust the black people – they suspect a conspiracy that the black people have arranged to poison them, so the women are carefully watching who brought what and comparing notes so they don’t accidentally eat food cooked by a black person. Keep,in mind, many of them probably had black women as housekeepers as a child. Maybe that is the source of their fear.

There was no government rule in place creating segregated senior clubs. It’s just the way things were and everyone was comfortable with the arrangement. Pretty much the same was true of the churches. It was eye opening for me to listen on the radio to the services of the black church in town. I struggled with trying to understand how the Christians around me planned to deal with eternal life in heaven with their souls living together with the people they hated in life.

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4 Responses to Trust

  1. You’d needn’t have wondered if that would be interesting. Thanks Fred for recounting that memory which illustrates one of the major challenges in our nation’s history.

  2. TheChairman says:

    Yes, very interesting. Do you recall if they tried it again or made it an annual event, etc?

    • Fred Stiening says:

      I don’t know – by then I was living in Charlotte. My parents moved back to Pennsylvania in 1980. Primarily, the reason was he realized memories of canaries from 30 years ago was not enough. Once I left the nest and my mother’s health problems started to accumulate, the idea of him living by himself became unworkable. After they moved back, I felt free of my responsibility to them and moved to Oklahoma. I drove a u-haul with a manual transmission up through the hills of West Virginia to get them moved. I just barely knew how to drive a manual (my college roommate taught me to drive his car)

      Totally blind people create a mental map, especially if they use a cane and walk by themselves. He had lived in the same house from high school until he was 65. He never was able to feel confident with his skills in Statesville. The religion thing also wore him down. Most social activity revolved around church activities. All his radio friends were back in Pittsburgh and he never really acquired any replacements. I do remember driving over to WHKY-AM in Huckory NC to visit one of them. This was the era of tube based transmitters and needing to take hourly readings of the transmitter. It was an old school AM building where the studio used to be with the transmitter. It still had a turntable “just in case”. If you remember the episode of WKRP where there is a bomb scare, so Johnny Fever and Venus Flytrap go out to the transmitter building to do the show, it was exactly like that except it was kept clean. The paranoia that the “FCC police” might show up is an amusing insight

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