The Help

I just read The Help by Kathryn Stockett. It takes place in the early 60’s. The 50’s were my growing up years so I was able to identify with much that was written here. No, we didn’t have ‘colored’ help but I attended schools in Covington, Oklahoma and Des Moines, Iowa where there were definite ideas and rules concerning black folks.

We lived in Oklahoma from ’46 to ’48 in a small town where negro people were not allowed to stay over night! They could pass through town but that was all. I remember seeing a black man walking down the railroad tracks one day and my thoughts, as a little girl, were, I hope he knows he can’t stay overnight. He’s just got to keep going. I had no idea what the consequences would be but I knew where the jail was and was quite sure he’d have to spend the night there if he was still there by evening.

The jail was a little separate building next to the sheriff’s office. The sheriff was my best friend’s daddy! He also worked in the oil fields and they lived on a small farm. People were hard-working folks back in the 40’s and 50’s.

In Des Moines, Iowa, I attended Nash Elementary and Kirkwood Elementary Schools in the middle 40’s. I don’t remember very much about the elementary schools. I attended Washington Irving  Jr. High and North High Schools in the middle 50’s. The junior and senior high schools  were probably half black students. I had a few good black friends.

I have several memories that I will never forget. I’ll write about one. I was walking home from school one day and a classmate was also walking the same direction. He happened to be black but he was a good friendly kid and we were friends. We were walking along a busy street, talking and laughing, having a good time. A car, going by, suddenly veered over. The driver was a white man who noticed a white girl and a black boy walking together. The look on his face was one of shock and anger. He nearly drove up onto the sidewalk. I knew what his problem was: I was walking with a black boy.

So what! He was a good boy and a good friend. I was a good girl and a good friend. We never walked together again.

I’ve always had a soft place in my heart for folks of color. I knew there were problems with folks accepting them. I’m proud of my dad because he was Director of Interracial Evangelism for our church denomination, Free Methodist, in the late 50’s.

I read The Help with riveting attention because of my association with black folks over the years and growing up in the 40’s and 50’s. I felt the discrimination and I wish I had been a better friend. There are more experiences I haven’t written about here because there isn’t room. I’ll just say here that every association I’ve had has been a positive one and I’m glad to have been a friend.

I know everyone who reads The Help won’t have the same reaction I’ve had because they haven’t had the same experiences I’ve had but I do hope it wakes some folks up as to how black folks were and sometimes still are discriminated against.

God loves them and so do I.

About allinadayofme

I can't believe I'm in old age! I'm now in my eighties! I'm a child of God, wife to one, mother to five, grandmother to 15 plus two granddaughters-in-law! I'm a great-grandma now! I'm a sister, aunt, cousin, friend and neighbor. I'm a housewife and former ESL tutor. I love reading and writing. I've just retired from writing and editing a newsletter, Prime Time News, for seniors. I love genealogy, traveling, birds and animals, blogging and taking pictures.
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2 Responses to The Help

  1. Sue Husted says:

    Thanks for sharing Anita. I feel I know you better. I grew up in Toledo and there the colored folks had their place. Some lived about 3 blocks from us and were very respectable. I appreciated them and I had respect for them. There was never much talk about them in our home, so I never had dislike for them. Most of them were kind and sweet people. In the 60’s there was some gangs that broke out near Detroit and into part of Toledo that caused a lot of heart ache. I remember being scared that I would be attacked. But the folks that were doing horrible things were just trying to stir up trouble. When I went to college I had several friends that I counted precious to me. They were black. In a Christian atmosphere, like Spring Arbor, there wasn’t much discrimination. So glad black folk have a good place in society now.

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    • Thanks Sue, for your comments. But living in the north was nothing compared with living in the south. There is so much more I could have written. More experiences are coming to my mind even now. I’m glad to be a Free Methodist and am proud of the stand our forefathers took.

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