Negros were all over the place there and they seemed really nice. Dad got along well with them so I paid no never mind to their differences in looks once I got over the novelty which at that age took about 15 minutes. Seems that Dad had business dealings with a Negro named Bill. I didn't know his last name until I met his family and at age 7 I didn’t care. He had a daughter who was about age 6 and a son age 8. We had a great old time playing when we stayed overnight at their home.
The mom was a wonderful cook and we had the best food I can ever remember. I don’t remember what it was but I know I ate a lot of it. Then Billy Jr., Isabel and I would go to the near-by park and play the day away. Billy Jr. was rather non-athletic to say the least. He had very thick glasses and just didn’t seem to move right. Isabel on the other hand kept right up with me as we ran and played on the jungle gym and swings. It was a great time and I was sad to leave after a few days. I still remember the huge hug Mamma Wilkins gave me. I was in heaven smelling all the good food on her clothes and felt so loved and safe. My mom never hugged me and always smelled of bleach.
I sure hated to leave. I never visited them again. I guess the timing was not right. Billy and Isabel did write me and I respond until this day. I still have all their letters and re-read them sometimes. We talk about everything. Billy and Isabel were as different as day and night. Billy liked to discuss science and math and Isabel was all about sports. She still is. Neither of them has married or talks about any special friends. She knew all the players of the Cubs and some Negro team that her dad would take her to their games. They still go to this day. Billy didn’t go with them and I don’t think even knew how many bases or what a baseball diamond was.
In fact they are my most faithful correspondence as I went through boot camp and have been shipped out. Isabel writes almost daily and Billy about once a week. I’m lucky to get a letter a month from home. Mamma Wilkins sends the most fantastic food and some in my unit ask me every day if more is coming. About a dozen of the Southern boys won’t have anything to do with Mamma Wilkins gifts even though they probably had Negro cooks at home. I just don’t understand their way of thinking. I just something that I don’t think you will ever overcome.
We got our first two Negro replacements yesterday. They seem like real nice fellows and I know I’m going to get on well with them. The Southern dozen (I call them) won’t even shower or go to the same bathroom with Sam and Jacob. All shit smells the same to me. Sam is very smart but pretend he isn’t. He confided in me that many Negros men are taught from very early on by their mothers not to stand out or draw attention to themselves. Apparently there is a history of smart, talented Negro men being lynched by angry mobs of white trash. I don’t know if this is true or not but it is a reality as far as Sam and Jacob are concerned so they play dumb a lot even though they are very capable men. It sounds like a horrible thing to teach your children. Imagine having to hide your talents and having to live in the shadows.
I asked Billy and Isabel in my last letter if this was what they had been taught and both answered yes. That Mamma Wilkins had warned Billy many a time not to be too “uppity” and to hide his talents in science and math. He studies at home but does not “show off” in school. He’s hoping to get into one of the all Negro colleges and then he can let his mind loose and really show what he is capable of but in the mean-time he has to hide in the shadows in public school just getting good enough grades to be the smartest Negro but not the smarter than most of the white kids.
Isabel luckily doesn’t have to do the same with her athletic abilities. Her heroes are Tuskegee University sisters Margaret "Pete" Peters and Matilda Roumania "Repeat" Peters and she wants to go to Tuskegee as well. These two Negro female tennis players are trail blazers for not only Negro women but for all women. She has it easier than Billy because of Pete and Repeat Peters. These two have made it acceptable for Negro women to compete on a national stage. The Brown Bomber, Joe Lewis has done kind of the same thing for Negro men athletes and this Willy Mayes might be what we need in baseball but we still need a lot of work for Negro men in most fields of work. We need more George Washington Carvers before Billy can really show his intellect outside of a Negro college. Who knows maybe Billy will be the next Carver. He certainly is smart enough.
I'm not saying all Negros are angels mind you. Hell that Snookie asshole in B Company is the sneakiest guy I know. I'm sure he has stolen some jewelry and was put in the stockade for sneaking off during guard duty. I'm surprise he wasn't shot. So it don't matter the color of your skin it just a combination of who your parents are, where you grew up and some inner voice that some call your conscience etc.
Look at those Tuskegee Airmen and what they accomplished. Old Snookie would be in trouble in that outfit. They would not put up with any of his crap. I heard they was in Spain flying against the Reds. Mighty fine pilots they tell me. Just shows what can happen when you give the right man or I suppose a women the right chance at the right time. Who knows maybe the Pete and Repeat sisters could be the first girl fighter pilots. I heard the Soviets had some. Efficient use of talent if you ask me but then again they never seem to ask me.
That reminds me of that horrible race riot in February in Columbia, TN. We had been horrified at all the violence. A true case of a racist bigot thinking a Negro was uppity. Imagine the nerve of a returning vet complaining that you had been cheated. Cheated because he was charged for a repair that was not done. That deserves a lynching in some men's minds I guess. That Negro was a former veteran from the Navy who had just come back risking his life for his country and some white asshole thinks he doesn't deserve the respect he earned. Then things get out of hand and the police trash the Negro neighborhood and arrest 100 men. Two die in custody supposedly shot while trying to grab a gun while handcuffed.
I think we have another 20 years at least before something really happens to improve the situation. Maybe this war will do it. I heard the Reds have a movie where a white American woman is run out of town when she has a Negro child and is almost killed by a mob but escapes and becomes a star in the circus in Russia. At the end of the movie the various peoples of the Soviet Empire sings the child to sleep in their different languages. An obvious attempt to divide us with propaganda but still compelling if true. I wonder if communism is appealing to Negros? I don't think so but who could blame them.
Boy how the mind wonders when you're on guard duty. Wonder when those flyboys are going to start bombing again. All these B29s sitting around here out in the desert and were supposed to guard them. Heard that some had atomic bombs in them. That should put a dent in Old Joes steel curtain. Lots of accidents and engine failures. Sand and those big old engines just don't mix I guess. From what I hear those engines have always been trouble and have killed more crews than the Japanese by conking out to and from the target. Hope they figure it out soon. I hate this place.
Crap here comes the Sarge. Time to wake up and look alive.