Racism: Chopped and Channeled

3540-004-1F568E2EI grew up in post-war San Diego. My family lived in plywood rooms tossed up for the influx of the wartime factory workers. We could have conversations with our neighbors without leaving our mutual homes. When I went to school I was exposed to a lot of people who didn’t look like me—tow-headed blue-eyed white speaking kindergarten English. Spanish was common and I often wished I had been dark haired, dark skinned, and dark eyed. Years later I learned that my brunette mother had considered brown eyes preferable but she kept having blond haired, blue-eyed children.

My early school class was probably a third black; I remember thinking there was something wrong since at least half of those kids had no shoes so the light skinned soles of their feet showed a contrast with their dark skin. Other than that, I was mostly concerned if a classmate was bigger than me (I was a wimp).

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Stay Classy and Read

images-3.jpgI want to again warn everyone that although I occasionally refer to these as “Suggested Reading,” they’re not really suggestions. When I was in school they built a new shopping center across the canyon from my parent’s house. At the time it was big and fancy but I was there about two years ago and they have doubled or even tripled the size of the mall and added a couple of movie theaters and four or five large themed restaurants.

But when it first opened. the star attraction for me was a well-stocked bookstore called Hunter Books. Up until Hunter opened, I made my reading selections from the wire racks down at the candy store. At Hunter I could browse for hours seeking just the right book to read. Do you remember scanning up and down the shelves being drawn in by a colorful cover or a catchy title. I would say that I selected my reading matter with my eyes. It was much later that I actually opened a prospective read and tasted the prose for a page or two.

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Christmas in Snow or At the Beach?

images.jpgMerry Christmas! Any snow where you are? Here in Hilton Head it’s a balmy 80 degrees and I’m sweating. Growing up in San Diego I guess I’m somewhat used to the warm weather during the holidays (water skiing on New Year’s Day anyone?). But I did spend over 30 years in New Jersey, experiencing more than my share of cold and wet and frozen.

I remember San Diego days driving up into the mountains, cavorting in the snow, and driving back to the beach for some gnarly waves. They used to say that San Diego would never support a major sports team because there was too many other fun things to do: who wanted to sit on a hard seat and watch what you could more comfortably enjoy on the television, possibly when relaxing at your neighbor’s beach bungalow.

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Is Race a Bigger Myth Than God?

Liberty ShipI grew up in San Diego, California, although I was born in North Carolina and my folks were from Arizona. Right after the war we lived in what is now a very posh area of San Diego—Point Loma—but when my Dad got into San Diego State College on the G. I. Bill, we moved to married student’s housing down by the jetty in Old Town. Most of the living arrangements in that area of town were temporary plywood multi-units built for the influx of workers for the war industries: building airplanes and ships. In Southern California where the weather is friendly, temporary buildings tend to last a long time. When I came home from New Jersey to surprise my buddy who was getting married, they held his bachelor party in a newly built townhouse on the side of a long hill where, until that visit, I would see only those old two-story plywood firetraps still being used to house the less fortunate of San Diego.

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