Two summers ago, the little white house next to my parent's sold for $89,000. My dad did backward flips over that news and complained about the ridiculous economy. He could have bought the house for $5,000 in the late 70's but chose to take our family to Mexico instead. Dad has regretted that decision to this day because the only good neighbor that ever came from that house was Beverly. She ironed clothes in her tiny hot living room wearing a bra and shorts with giant boobs and drank iced tea from a blue plastic glass. Everything she cooked tasted delicious, and she always let us girls dance on the porch in the hot sun until our albums would warp from the heat. Her three daughters and I spent many summers together making fairy houses out of the over grown lilac bushes and playing dress up. I loved them and they loved me.
It wasn't long before Linda, the middle child started to point out our differences. She made fun of her older sister for being light and the baby sister for being so dark and looking like a "gorilla". I learned new words that summer. My sisters and I were "honky's". When I laughed, she grabbed me from the waist and slammed me to the ground. We were wearing long dresses and high heeled shoes, dressed so proper then Beverly came running out of the house screaming, "you ignorant, ignorant children! when will this kind of fighting ever stop? get in the house, go child, GO!" Then Linda called everyone a nigger and I watched while Beverly broke a switch from the tree and beat Linda in the legs.
We mended our fight, but the tension stayed. As we grew older, it seemed we could only play together as long as we stayed in the yard and not seen in public. One day, Beverly's husband was killed in a car accident while at work. The insurance money bought her family a new white car, new furniture, new lamps that she kept the plastic on and a new life away from us. I cried so hard when they moved and we have all since lost contact with each other.
Every time I visit my parents, I think of them when I see the little white house. My mother learned to sew from Beverly and we learned the sting of prejudice. I know things have changed since my father's times and even mine. I see it getting better with my children's generation and someday, my grandchildren will be color blind to their neighbors. We all belong to one God, under one sun. $89,000 for a little $5,000 house! What a change! Happy Martin Luther King day to all!