Monday, November 2, 2009

Piney Woods

They arrived on a bus. From Piney Woods, Mississippi, they made their way to Painter Creek Church on the Hog Path in Ohio. The choir sang in our church and at my school. Beautiful young women singing a new experience into our lives.

Mom and Dad invited them to park their bus at our house. They used our bathroom and ate our food. For a young girl who had never met a person of color, I was mesmerized.

My space away from the world was in the corner of the basement with the old record player. It was OLD. Often when I touched it, a small electrical charge would zap me. But turn it on I did. Small Golden Records with worn grooves played time and time again. My small voice sang "Davy Crocket", "Peter Pan", "Three Blind Mice", all the songs I loved. Here the painfully shy girl was happiest.

She came down the stairs looking for me, I guess. I was oblivious when my music played. When she spoke, I was mute. Marva Jo walked over and asked if she could listen to my records. She started to sing. I joined in. Soon the basement was full of girls. Me sitting on Marva Jo's lap, we all sang together song after song. Shyness turned to laughter.

I'd never been around people of color. We lived in a very white world. These strangers were no strangers when we shared music. They understood what the music meant to me. Their soulful voices reached into a little girls and hugged her.

It was the 50's. It was a time of discontent. It was a time of creating a child who would grow up to embrace all people looking past differences in religion, color, belief. My encounter with these lovely girls brought light into a place that I didn't even know was dark.

They arrived on a bus from Piney Woods, Mississippi. When they left, they changed a girl on Neff Road.

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