Memories of Race Relations in School – Part 4

My first integrated school was Middletown High School in New York state.

My father had moved the Chinchilla Breeders and Marketers Association from Salt Lake City when he convinced the members that they had to sell fur from the soft little animals and, to do so, it would be useful to be near the fur market in New York City.

Middletown was about as far from NYC as Crystal Lake is from Chicago, but the rail service on what he called the Erie and Lackadasical Railroad was abysmal.  It took about an hour and a half to go the 50 miles.

The Middletown High School I attended from 1956-58 had morphed into Twin Towers Junior High. I did notice that my Class of 1960 had planted a granite stone at the base of the flag pole.

Entering my freshman year at the high school with no acquaintances except Boy Scouts from my Methodist Church troop, I ended up sitting with those not in a clique.

One was (I guess I would have called him) a “Negro” in 1956.  We hit it off enough that I invited him to come over to our home.

When we moved to Crystal Lake in 1958, again there were no blacks.

No minorities I can remember at Crystal Lake Community High School.

After getting elected to student council in the spring of 1959, I was put in a gym class with seniors because student council met when juniors had gym.

There was one conversation I remember in which two seniors were talking about what would happen when the first black kid entered Crystal Lake Community High School.  He used the “N” word and it had something to do with being locked in a gym locker.

The college I attended was Oberlin in Ohio.  The school brags about being the first to admit women and blacks.

While I was there from 1960-64, black students were just like anyone else.

I noticed a startling change when I returned from the University of Michigan to Oberlin for Homecoming that fall.

Blacks were all sitting at the same table in the Rathskeller.

They were not the spring before.

A step backwards from my viewpoint.

The campus was fully integrated when I graduated.  It seems to have gone in the other direction after that  summer of “Black Power.”

And that brings me back to the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

One of the demonstrations during mid-year 1964 was just south of Talbot County in Cambridge, Maryland, in Dorchester County across the Choptank River.  H. Rap Brown got arrested there and, even in the midst of non-stop studying, I noticed.

I also noticed that the resistance to integration did not occur in my home county to the north. That pleased me.

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