I’m sure you understand why I have had time or the ability to write a blog.
Prayers will be joyfully accepted.
My parents didn’t teach me to hate
I look back over the years and realize what an amazing statement this is: my parents didn’t teach me to hate. Never once did I hear a word against any group or people, religion or race. I didn’t grow up with the burden of prejudice. I didn’t have to unlearn the lessons of racism.
You may not think this statement makes my folk sound special. I hope your parents did the same.
What makes this fact remarkable is that my father was born in 1904 and my mother, in 1907, hardly years of openness and acceptance of others. I was born in the 1940’s and grew up in a world filled with bigotry and hatred, in a world of separate restrooms and in a city where the public swimming pool was closed because white people didn’t want to swim with black people. Because of the way my parents raised me, I didn’t understand why anyone would object to this. Thanks, Mom and Dad.
I thought of this again about a week ago when I watched a PBS program about Oscar Hammerstein. He was a man born in 1895, a man ahead of his time, a writer who asked questions and forced discussion on many issues, especially of race and prejudice, in the lyrics of his marvelous musicals.
In 1949, Hammerstein wrote South Pacific. I was born in Kansas City, MO, a little off Broadway, but wonderful touring companies came through. I saw South Pacific in the theater when I was eight. After the show was over, I asked my mother about the song You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught. She told me that some parents teach their children to hate other people, people who are different. I asked her why. She couldn’t explain. Neither can I.
In Showboat written in 1927, Hammerstein dealt with misogyny. Julie, who had “black blood”, was married to a white man, a union which was against the law. I saw this movie when I was nine and couldn’t understand why two adults who love each other couldn’t marry. I still don’t.
My parents raised me in church and taught me that the Gospel means acceptance and love for all, no exceptions.
Thanks, Mom and Dad.
Please stop by. I’d love to see you. http://booksbylyncote.com/SWBS/
Don’t forget: THE WELCOME COMMITTEE OF BUTTERNUT CREEK will be available Tuesday!
Guest blogging today is my sister-in-law, Diane Perrine Coon. She’s an expert on the underground railroad in Kentucky and surrounding states, a speaker, a respected historian, and the daughter of one on my favorite people. Thanks for dropping in, Diane. Take it away.
It was one of those fortuitous events that many believe are God incidents, I was living in Pennsylvania and taking an early retirement from a large corporation at the same time my Dad died leaving Mom with an oversized house and yard exactly 857 miles away. So I left my daughter and grandkids up East and came back to Kentucky, to small town Kentucky. That move meant I spent the next 12 years getting to know Mom all over again in a new and fresh way. And it also meant I got bored and went back to graduate school, this time in American History.
In her last year as Mom at age 95 was dying of congestive heart failure, I was amazed at how many of her friends, some she had known for 50 years, others for 30 years, and some just 10 years or so visited her frequently. Sometimes there were shouts of great merriment. Other times it was a time of reflection, of that gentle gossip among old friends, or of Mom reading one of her favorite poems by Billy Collins. Then it dawned on me that Mom had taught Bible for over 65 years and these were her students. This was their way of thanking her for bringing a very real Jesus into their lives.
As hospice was called in, her oldest Kentucky friend, Joyce Rose now with just one kidney after her own surgery and in her late 80s, visited bringing homemade soups because Mom could not get solid food down anymore. When we moved to Kentucky in 1950 to a tiny hamlet called Pewee Valley, Joyce lived just down Maple Avenue from our house on the corner of Maple and Elm Street. She had five children and often found herself at the doctor’s office (my Dad) and visited Mom’s kitchen. Then Mom, a nurse, gave allergy shots to one of Joyce’s children and never charged for it. A deep and lasting friendship grew between them.
On one of her last visits, I asked Joyce to help me remember the people that lived on Maple Avenue, Pewee Valley, during the 1950s. It was such a momentous time in our lives. It was our first real house with a big yard and fabulous big trees. There were only 650 people in Pewee Valley when we moved there, so it was a very small town. My Dad was setting up medical practice after years in internship, residency and four years in WW II. My brother and I were adjusting to our fifth (and third) school. Of course that first Sunday, Mom trotted us all off to our new church in the next village. Within hours everyone on Maple Avenue knew who we were, and within days, we had met all the kids that lived up and down the street. And within months our side yard had baseball games going, rabbits being raised in the other side yard, and Duchess, my horse, was munching everything in sight in the back field.
A couple of months after Mom died, Joyce phoned and asked if she could come over. She brought with her a piece of cardboard. She had drawn a couple of lines to represent Maple Avenue and there along the edges were the names of all the families that lived there in the 1950s. I almost burst into tears. Instead I hugged her tightly. I could imagine how many memories had flooded into her mind and soul and she drew the map. This was such a great act of love toward my Mom from her oldest Kentucky friend. And that is the heart of Maple Avenue.
My sister-in-law Diane Perrine Coon, whom I introduced last week, will be blogging Tuesday about Pewee Valley and memories of her childhood. Pewee, as the natives call it, is a lovely town with huge trees and beautiful, historical houses.
Thursday, another blog about being frugal, about my husband this time.
So this week seems a lot like, family week but that’s okay. I married into a marvelous bunch.
By the way, Pewee Valley is named for the pewee bird seen to the left.