Dad was old school, conservative in some ways, old testament religious. But he never saw race, which for his generation was less common than not.
Our family doctor was black, and his wife was black. They were both, intelligent, caring, spectacular people. You had to wait forever in their waiting room, but you were all theirs in the doctors office. Mrs Dorsey (Doctor Hosten) diagnosed my sister’s tonsillitis, when her (not to be named) pediatrician had not. My dad always felt Dr Hosten had saved her life.
40 years later, when Dad died, Doctor Hosten sent my other sister a condolence card and included my sister’s middle name. I was floored that in her 80s she either had a great memory or a great record keeping system which would allow here to retain a patient’s middle name for forty years.
But that’s not why I’m here.
Dad told a story about going to DC sometime probably in the early sixties
to Washington D.C., I don’t remember why. Maybe had to do with the army reserves.
You may say he should have done more, it would have been more remarkable, but as the story goes, it was a hot day and they wanted water.
Dad got in line for the Coloreds Only drinking and my uncle got in the Whites only line.
Dad litterally didn’t see color. I think he’d never heard of colored only water fountains. He got in the shorter line. He’d never encountered that kind of racism, and simply didn’t recognize it.
As I grew up in the sixties, I didn’t understand what I saw on the news about race. All people should be treated equally is what I learned. But I had no idea that Mississippi, was way different than the working class enclaves of European Catholic immigrants in which my sheltered childhood took place. The older people in my life just didn’t have any idea what was really going on either.
Until just this month I learned about the Freedom Riders. This year, and years ago reading Anne Moody’s “A Coming Of Age In Mississippi”, I’d not known about the sit ins at the lunch counters. I never knew people could hate and murder people for asking for their rights as citizens.
My Dad just didn’t have a clue. I’d never heard the name Medgar Evers until I read that book. I’m sure Dad hadn’t heard of him either. But what I’ve learned in the intervening years shocks me to this day. Blacks, and whites who helped them, were murdered in Mississippi back then. And it would have shocked my Dad, I’m sure.
We had our family struggles. Sometimes we thought we were living through hell! Little did we know.
The other thing I remember. Dr Dorsey had the softest hands, and the gentlest spirit. I’m proud of dad for not seeing race, and I’m so glad to have been cared for by those two loving physicians. People through the first 20 or thirty years of my life who cared for my whole family, tenderly. They made house calls, and you knew you were alright when Dr Dorsey was there.
[More about the Dorsey's - http://archive.pressconnects.com/article/20060201/NEWS01/602010311/Couple-blazed-Tier-trail-medical-field ]