The guest of a Fruitcake

I had eaten my Swanson’s TV dinner on top of the TV tray and watched and listened to what I could on TV. Even Dr. Kildare, who usually makes me foolishly swoon, looked more like Barney Fife. I’m going bonkers. I know it.

But bedtime was bliss.

The “TSR”, the Temporary stay room,” as Olvie calls it, could be a lot worse than it is. Although the dresser and the headboard on the twin bed are stained puke green, the room itself is at the front of the house. I have one window that looks out to the street. The window on the side gives me a view of the neighbor’s trashcans lined up against their pink brick house.

I had discovered that the window locks are easy peezy. One twist and I could be home free. I know where our spare house key is hidden. How hard would it be to go home, at least for a few hours? Crank up my record player. Listen to Booker T. or the Isley Brothers on Mom and Dad’s new Magnavox player. Or, with the money Mom gave me for “emergencies,” I could go someplace else. Like, for days.

 

Current Work in Progress, a novel set in 1963 during segregation.

Snoopy of Dog Pile asks a question

Andy_Griffith_TV_Guide_1961.jpg

“TV Guide says Mayberry is calling to us,” Olvie says. “I don’t much care for Aunt Bee. She’s a prude. But I like it when she lectures Andy. Still, Andy and Barney are country bumpkins. But that Opie Taylor? He asks questions that make sense. And he teaches Andy more than he teaches his son. Chicken Coop, You could learn a lot from Opie Taylor.”

I could learn as much from Opie as I could from bumbling Barney Fife. Right now, I need real advice. I need my parents.

“When is Mom calling back?”

“Why? You can’t talk to me?” Olvie says. “You know me better than most now that you’ve seen my boobs. And I know you better, too. On the rag, you get bitchy.”

I picture telling Olvie about Tanner’s troubles, about the police showing up at her door any minute to ask for him. In my head, I hear her tell me to grab the bat under her bed and hit the deputy in the head if he tries to take away her employee.

Which reminds me. “Did you pay Tanner his wages?”

“Not that it’s any of your business, Snoopy of Dog Pile. But no, I forgot. Wonder why he didn’t ask. He asked for the job, didn’t he? Any person who asks for a job expects to get paid. If they don’t, they hold out their palm. And here I thought he was better than Elias Ford who fords not across the river when he could stand up right and stop acting like a slave.”

I hear Mom’s words. Now, more than ever, I know. Olvie might be a lot of things, but a racist isn’t one of them. Still, as Daddy once said, “When it comes to another human being, how can you truly judge them if you haven’t walked in their shoes? And not just for a mile, either. You’d have to walk in their shoes a whole lifetime. Otherwise, you’d never know where they’d been, what they’d seen, what’s important to them …”

When Daddy kept talking, I finally put up and hand and walked to my room. I don’t really know anything about Mr. Ford. Or Olvie for that matter. I suppose I’m only trying to know myself. At least that’s a start.

“Olvie,” I say a bit hesitantly. “Can I ask you a question?”

“A long or a short one?”

“Does it matter?” I say, sounding like her.

She glares at me.

“The question is short. It’s up to you how long your answer will be. That is, if you want to answer at all.”

“Gotta love having Control of a situation,” she smiles. “Well, go on then.”

“Have you ever been discriminated against?”

“Me? Discriminated against? More times than I can count.” Without saying more, she leaves for the bathroom saying, “Can’t watch a show on a full bladder. They gave me so much of that IV crap that I can’t stop peeing.”

 

Excerpt from “Olvie and Chicken Coop” (working title), set in 1963

 

 

I need your help. Seriously.

No matter your walk in life, we have all been affected by racial diversity. Some find it threatening. Others find is socially and culturally mesmerizing and exhilarating. For the purpose I am pursuing, let’s narrow it down to the white and African American culture.

While starting my new novel, my fear is the voice inside my head. It says,”How can you, a white woman, write about the African American experience in 1963? How could you possibly understand?”

Here’s my goal. To write an entertaining novel for all age groups but especially for young adults who may not know important historical facts about the Civil Rights Movement- which I will weave into the novel. I want the reader to take pause, reflect, and think about their actions going forward.

Big goal, huh? But I sincerely believe that understanding the past will put us in a better position for the future.

Here’s the premise to the novel:

In 1963, while staying with the unhinged friend of her deceased grandmother, a 14 yr old white girl from Texas meets a teenaged “Negro” boy from Alabama and learns first hand about racial injustice.

 

I am doing tons and tons of research. I have read “Black Like Me” by John Howard Griffin and The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin.

So here’s how you can, hopefully, help me.

  1. Is this a reasonable goal?
  2. What suggestions do you have for reading material that may help my accuracy?
  3. What experiences have you had that led you to a racial awareness/enlightenment?

I appreciate any and all suggestions!

Thank you for reading and responding!

Carolyn

Oh, and if you decide to write on this topic, MAKE SURE YOU LET ME KNOW. I promise to reblog unless it is offensive to humanity.