Crazy Charlsie Part 23

Charles staggered into the kitchen under a mountain of farm goods expecting exclamations of joy. Instead, the normally voluable Cora met him with pursed lips.  Clearly disapproving, She announced.  “The Reverend Mason is waiting for you in the parlor.  He says he’s here on business that can’t wait. I’ll bring in coffee and coconut cake in a minute.”  Cora had never made a secret of her feelings about Dr. Mason since he’d dodged her congregation’s request to purchase the old Presbyterian sanctuary when the Presbyterians built a new new one, especially after it stood empty for three years till being turned into apartments and a thrift store.

Though Charles still golfed and served on the school board with Reverend Mason,though  he’d not invited him into his home since the pastor refused to sell to Cora’s congregation, responding.  “I don”t think the neighbors are ready for a black congregation.”  Charles didn’t want Cora to have to serve a man with his prejudice.

“This is a surprise, Joe.  Have a seat.  The coffee should be ready in a minute.  Cora put it on before she left.   I’ll just duck out to the kitchen and get it.” Charles greeted him, knowing Cora would be listening at the kitchen door, anxious to learn the pastor’s business.

” I can’t stay, Charles.  I just came by to to let you know about the schoolboard’s decision.” Reverend Mason replied, avoiding Charles’s eye.

”What decision?  The schoolboard’s meeting is not until next week, is it?” Charles said.  Something wasn’t right.

”A special meeting was called.” Reverend Mason replied.

”A special meeting and I wasn’t notified.”  Charles spoke flatly.  “What’s your business?”

Dr Mason answered miserably.  “You know that last year the board voted extend from eleven to twelve years for graduation starting next fall.   Since Charlotte only lacks two credits to graduate, the board voted to award her diploma now, instead of making her attend another year.  I have her diploma with me, all signed by the board.  Would you like me to present it to her?”

Charles was stunned but fortunately, not speechless.  “I would NOT!  So you don’t want Charley in your school!  Charley is the same person,now, he was a few weeks ago.  He has never caused any problems and suddenly the board thinks he is unfit to attend!  How can they justify this?”

”This is miserable for us all, Charles, but we have to consider what’s best for everyone.  Many parents have expressed their concerns over sports teams use of locker rooms.  Students do not feel comfortable with Charley as things are.  Charley might not be comfortable either.  We have to think of what’s best for ALL students, Charley included.”  Dr. Mason felt righteous in his thinking.

”You pompous, Jackass!  Did it not occur to you that we are well-aware of the problem?  We live close enough to school that Charley could have come home when necessary.    Please tell the school board they won’t be bothered by me or Charley in the future.  You and your board must feel you have a divine guarantee of a perfect life to come to me with this.  Please show yourself out!”

 

 

I Am So Sorry, Rosie. I Didn’t Know.

black maidPlease excuse the offensive word used in context in this story.

Rosie was beautiful, the first black woman I ever knew.  She tolerated my stroking her creamy, caramel-colored legs as she washed dishes or ironed. Her crisply starched cotton housedresses smelled just like sunshine.  Normally, I trailed my mother, but on the days Rosie was there, she couldn’t stop suddenly without my bumping her.  Rosie ate standing up at the kitchen counter with her own special dishes while I ate at the kitchen table.  I wanted to eat standing at the counter with her but wasn’t tall enough.  One day as we ate, she told me she had a little girl.  Pearl was three years old, just my age,  Three years old.  I was enchanted.  “Is she a nigger girl?”  Rosie’s face fell.

“Don’t say ‘nigger.’  That’s a mean word. Say ‘colored’.”  I was surprised Rosie corrected me, not knowing I’d done anything wrong.   I was also surprised to hear “nigger” was a mean word.  I’d heard it many times.

Rosie said no more.  I was relieved when she seemed to have forgiven me, soon allowing me to hug her and stroke her beautiful, smooth legs as she worked along.

It was years before I realized how deeply I’d hurt her.  I am so, so sorry Rosie.  I wish I could unsay that awful thing.