Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween Back in the Day

Halloween back in the day in Oakland was sooo cool. Trick-or-treating in the 50s and 60s in the neighborhoods in which I grew up, 24th Avenue and later, Brookdale Avenue was safe, fun and a community event. I can remember going trick-or-treating with my mom when my sister and brother were younger but the real fun was when a group of us kids from age nine and up would go off all over the city (not really but it seemed like it) and getting loads of candy. We would be gone for hours and we did not worry about someone putting something in the candy or razor blades or any of that stuff. We just had fun.

The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock was regular fare so we were really geared up on the scary movies. The Adams Family and the Munsters television series got us ready for the haunted houses. I remember this old lady’s house over on East 26th Street that was spooky and we called it a haunted house and being scared to walk past but we marched bravely up to it on Halloween night, still scared, but not to miss out on any goodies. The lady just gave us regular candy.

I remember being a fairy, a ghost, Snow White (ha ha). We got huge amounts of candy. My mother would go through it and throw out loose unwrapped candy and then we would put our horde in big glass jars and we were supposed to be meted out a few pieces but my brother and I always ended up eating as much as we could. I remember getting a tummy ache one year. But that was then and this is now. Parents now have to worry about every little thing and have to think on every angle. Most people go to people’s houses they know, some do not trick-or-treat at all. I see lots of churches have parties; some call them Harvest day. They have games, costume contests and plenty of goodies. But I still remember Halloween back in the day when we were carefree and innocent.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Memory Monday-- Oops I Did It Again

Well, this is the second time I forgot Memory Monday blog. There has to be a way to remind myself, a tickler or something. I mean, I thought about it that morning but then poof, I completely forgot.

Memory, forgetting, it's all in rememberances.

Well, I'll be back later in the week with a new blog.

Peace out!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Memory Monday- I Remember Fall Days

I remember fall days

a light wind blowing a leaf down the street

Walking to school with a cool breeze

whipping against my legs

Buttoning my car coat up to my neck and

pulling the hood over my head

Autumn leaves dancing in synchronization

of burnt amber and new gold

I remember fresh boxes of crayons

The smell of new pencils

and learning times tables and spelling words

Drawing diagrams of verbs and nouns on blackboards

Games of kick ball and tetherball wrapping around a pole

I remember ashy legs that became shiny with Vaseline

Pigtails with ribbons and barrettes that hit me in the face

when the wind kissed my weathered cheeks

I remember the first rain that signified

summer was over

Halloween masks and trick or treat

Big bags of candy and delights

Darkness descending earlier and earlier making

the days shorter

Taking a bath and running to the portable heater

Sneaking to watch Amos n’ Andy before bedtime

I remember fall…..

My favorite season, the best time of the year.

Copyright © 2009 Dera R. Williams

Monday, October 5, 2009

Memory Monday- The Little Rock Nine

I was too young to remember the Little Rock Nine, the nine black students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957. I was born there and at two years-old moved with my parents to Oakland, California. We were frequent visitors to Arkansas, but it was not until I was much older did I read about and realize the sacrifices those young people and their families made.

I read several of the Little Rock Nine memoirs, and I am currently reading Carlotta Walls Lanier’s account, A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School. The youngest of the nine at 14, Walls Lanier would not speak of the ordeal; so traumatized was she, for thirty years. She left Little Rock in 1960, as did her immediate family after the bombing of her home. Lanier Walls was a bright, ambitious, intelligent young lady, who just wanted to best education possible to secure the future she felt she deserved, yet there were thousands of people who tried to take that basic right away from her. And Why? Because they were threatened by the color of her skin and threatened that their way of life would be changed. Arkansas’ Governor Faubus was determined to keep the six girls and three boys from entering Central High by calling out the National Guard. Angry white parents taunted, threw things, berated these youngsters, their faces full of hate. But Daisy Bates, a journalist and activist who was born in my mother’s hometown of Huttig, was unafraid of standing up to the white establishment that dared violate these young people’s rights to an educated as mandated by the 1954 Brown vs. the Board of Education ruling.

This past summer I visited Little Rock, along with my mother, sister and niece as part of our family reunion in the southern part of Arkansas. It is a much different city then it was in 1957. You would never have known this was formerly a Jim Crow city. We spent a lot of the time visiting and reliving the history of that city. We visited my parents’ alma mater, Philander Smith College, the Mosaic Templar Museum on 9th Street, other museums. We also visited Central High and the majestic school’s architecture is amazing. Lanier Walls gives the history of how this school came to be built and why she so wanted to attend. Earlier this year, monuments were erected to the Little Rock nine on the Capitol grounds and we of course, visited that. We took lots of pictures at both places.

Last year in 2008, Soledad O’Brien of CNN featured Central High in her Black in America series. Little Rock schools are totally integrated, I dare say, more integrated than the schools in Oakland. So it pained me that now that black students can freely attend Central High--- which is still considered prestigious, that the students self-segregate themselves and that black students are routinely herded into low-achieving classes. I know this is not endemic to Little Rock particularly but a symptom of the inequality of the educational and economic structures of this country. However, I am proud of the great many prominent African Americans that graduated from Central High and those faces I saw in the glass cases honoring high-achieving students. All in all, I have to say I am pretty much proud of my birth home.

Enjoy the pictures.