Monday, December 15, 2008
Here is a sort of Christmas memory. At least it has some association with the holiday.
When I was very small and we lived in the big house, Hattie used to come and work for us sometimes. She and my mother worked together, cleaning, doing laundry, etc. It was a really big house. Hattie and my mother were good friends and they worked well together. I think I've mentioned before, my father was not a very nice person. I may even have mentioned that I feel he was the world champion bigot of all time. He was never happy with the friendship between Hattie and Mother.
I loved Hattie, and I loved her son, Richard. He was very nice to me whenever he would come, but I'm sure he always thought of me as just a little kid. He was several years older than I.
Long after my parents divorced, Richard would often drive his mother out to our house to visit. Later, when I was working at Graduate Hospital, I would sometimes walk down to Catherine Street to visit Hattie after work. - But I digress. The day in question was a Sunday, just after Christmas, and Hattie and Richard were visiting our apartment. Hattie and Mother were sitting in the kitchen, talking, over coffee. Richard was in an arm chair, and I was sitting on the floor near him, under the tree, showing him what I got for Christmas. I must have been about sixteen. I had received a book of Carl Sandburg's poems, and I do believe I might have been reading one to him.
Ever since the divorce, my father would come on Sunday afternoon, and take me out for a ride in the country. He showed up as I was sitting there reading. He stood for a few moments, listening, then announced that it was time to go. I had no choice but to say good-bye to Richard and leave with Dad.
We rode in silence for a few minutes, which was not unusual. Any time we talked, we argued, so we often rode in silence. But then my father said something I could not believe. He told me, "A white woman does not sit at the feet of a black man." He was dead serious. I burst out laughing at first at the ridiculous statement, which did not go over too well with him. But it was just too absurd. Of course, then I thought about it, and we had our usual argument.
That's all. Not very Christmasy, but that's all I remember about it that year.