“What My Dad Said”

When my dad retired from the Army, we moved from Ft. Benning, GA to Center Point, AL (a suburb on the NE side of Birmingham) where he opened a barber shop and cut hair and held court with his friends who happened to be customers. I was maybe 4 years old. This would have been around 1965 in the Deep South.

Center Point at the time had one major intersection in the heart of town, cornered by Civitan Park, the Capri Theatre shopping center, a gas station, and the first Jack’s Hamburger joint.

One day, Dad and I were going somewhere and we were pulling up to this very intersection. That day it was hopping with activity. Guys in white robes were on each corner, holding signs and extending buckets toward the stopped cars. Hands would drop money into those buckets. I remember more folks giving to these white-clad people than those abstaining.

I distinctly remember when we passed by our bucket opportunity, Dad mumbled something to the guy I didn’t quite catch. I could tell he was angry about something. I meekly asked “who are those guys in those robes…?”

“A bunch of GD fools…”

He didn’t use the abbreviation.

My dad was a merchant marine as a teenager, and sailed around the globe  a couple of times before serving his country in the Army as a member of the Corps of Engineers. He was one of the first teams in Japan during the aftermath of war-ending atomic destruction. He was in the Korean conflict, and did tours in Europe long enough to have some of us kids born in France and (then) West Germany.

The point of this rambling post is that in his travels, my rural Bama-born father learned that racism and hate are the byproducts of “GD foolery” and taught his kids that all lives matter, long before any slogan.

Under the skin and under the sun
We are all the same

So if you ask what I think of haters marching with torches, declaring their superiority over others, you already have my answer.

What my dad said…

4 Replies to ““What My Dad Said””

  1. George, I remember rolling through that same intersection as a teenager and seeing them out there. I rolled up my window before I got to them so I wouldn’t have to interact with them. I have told that story to disbelieving people for 40 years or so to show them what it was like where I grew up in the 1970’s.

  2. Weird, I grew up in Birmingham in the ’60s & ’70s & never saw any KKK people until I moved to Atlanta. I saw some in 1988 in downtown. Atlanta during the Democratic Convention. There were All kinds of parades & demonstrations in the streets.

  3. in 1978 in early September my ex husband and I were married at the Center Point Methodist church. I had a cousin from Cullman drive in for the event and at my reception she said did you know the Klan was having a rally at the corner down by the Civitan Park? I was so embarrassed. I had hoped after all this time that sort of hate group would be long gone. Watching the news today shows me some people need to learn we are all Americans.

  4. Didn’t know we shared such history George my dad was corp of engineers WW2 and 3rd engineers attached to 24th infantry in Korea. He grew up in Mississippi the grandson of a civil war veteran and thought the KKK were idiots. He shared your dads colerful verbs. He had to train “citizens groups” in Starkville during the civil rights protests. Funny there were never any confrontations someone warned the protesters. That was my job by way of our maid. Those goofeball sheet wearers found out and wrote N lover in our front yard with salt and they didn’t abbreviate. I resent likeHell a bunch of hate monger pretending to represent ” white people” the only thing we share is skin color and they make me ashamed of that. And then to have the gall to say they are protecting Christian Values! WWJD

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *