What if you lived in a rural area with an unspoken rule? What if you never saw the real estate agents turning people away? What if the only dark faces you ever saw were on television?

That was my world in 1969. It was lived in limited air. Oh, you could orbit the earth or go to the moon if you were white, male, and in the military. Otherwise, you had to make the most of the oxygen that you were allowed. You would think that Northern Ohio wouldn’t be so stifling.

My parents never told their friends at church that they watched the Smothers Brothers Show. I laughed at Laugh-In because of the name, not because I understood it. I understood Hee-Haw. “Saaaa-LOOT!”

It wouldn’t be a surprise to you if you found me sitting next to a very dark-skinned older gentleman at the mall in the big city like my Grandmother did. She couldn’t find me for five minutes, and when she did, I was sitting next to the indoor fountain talking to a black man.

“Grandma,” I said, “Look at him! He must be famous!”

View this story's 3 comments.