Great Balls of Fire

Over break, I’ve had time to remember stories told to me by my parents. Tonight, I will share some of my father’s personal stories.

My great grandmother’s sister worked down south as a school teacher.  She was light skinned and could pass as white. Across the street from the school, there was a hat shop. At this hat shop, only white customers were able to try on hats and choose to purchase one or not. However, black customers had to buy hats they tried on. My great grandmother’s sister would try on as many hats on in that shop as she could, since she could and never buy one.

My grandmother’s father was a light skinned man with light colored eyes. He could pass as being white as well. He worked as a painter at a hotel. One day, he walked into the hotel with the colored maids. His boss said “Why did you walk in with the colored women?” My great great grandfather responded, “Well, they play cards with my wife.” Astonished, the manager replied, “Your wife, you mean to tell me you’re colored!?” He replied, “Yes sir.”  Then, the manager whispered, “Look, I like you, you’re good at your job, but don’t tell anyone you’re colored or we will have to fire you.”


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