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Debbie Sharp Loeb, teacher by training but full-time mom to a disabled son, craftsperson, bead artist, great cook, creative homemaker & terrific spotter of cool new products for everything under the sun, presents Hodgepodge: recipes, household hints, stories about children, friends & relatives, cool stuff, music, & much more.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

More from Dee

I asked Dee if there was anything else she'd like to share and she wrote back the following:

"The only further thing I wish people could all know (altho' it wouldn't now serve much purpose, I think) is in just what awful conditions our black brothers and sisters lived. Those are stories that, also, I'm glad I experienced so I would truly know what they were up against; however, I am grateful for them that things have changed mostly beyond THAT stuff which was just ghastly - 11 people living in one room right across from the all-white the high school; a mother and toddler baby trying to exist in a cinder block shell of a building which had been under construction - it was winter and the baby had a bad cold. This is what the public health nurses saw all the time and how, on just one day, I saw it, too."

"I guess my memories of these black friends are all positive ones of people whom we knew. When I say "worked for...", they might come once a week as our helper did - her name was "Gussie" - Augusta Lewis - and she helped Mom with the cleaning and ironing. She taught me how to iron perfectly and I was only 6 or 7. She would NEVER come in and have lunch in the dining room with us no matter what so I took my lunch into the kitchen and ate with her - a big treat for me! I heard from her as late as when I was married as she had an invitation; she was 90+ years old. And then there was "Rosie" who looked after me part-time when I was a baby. Her sister Minnie came and helped Mom clean but Minnie broke things a lot so she had to be "let go". Margaret was Rosie's and Minnie's mother and she was chief cook and housekeeper for my mother's best friend. Remember that none of us had large homes - the ladies just needed good help as everything was done “from scratch”. Margaret was the most loving person I have ever known - she was always there with a hug and a treat whenever I went with Mom to visit her friend. She had been there for years and still talked about the beautiful garden party that she helped with when my aunt and uncle came over from England in 1936 for a visit. It was an evening party; there were Chinese lanterns all through the gardens ( not large but lovely) and two orchestras (quite swell!) - one was a local popular dance band for the guests. The other was a black banjo band present in the back yard and out toward the barn for all those who liked to hear that music. I would so love to have been at this party! Everyone was in evening dress. At any rate, there was a certain amount of pride in how one did one's job and for whom one worked. There was also a man at the local manufacturing plant -he was half American Indian and half black. He could work all day long from 7 to 4 without a break except for a drink of water. He had no fear of heights and my Dad, upon having to inspect the smokestack which went 40 feet into the air, got stuck up there due to fear of heights. It was this man, Mr. Sally, who dropped everything and skedaddled right up there, got hold of Dad and "talked him down". He came to help us clear land at our new home in the Fredericksburg Battlefield Park and again, would arrive at 6 a.m., stop for a drink of water at noon, and keep going until 4 p.m. He amazed me. The saddest thing I've seen in my older years is in trying to write an article about the black cooks at local popular restaurants at home. The magazine editor was quite in favor of the article but it was quite amazing how there was NO information as to the cooks' names during the l930's, '40's and 50's. Goodness knows, we would all have crawled over crushed glass to eat anything they fixed - it was SO good!"

"Other than this - things have changed in that there has been a black mayor of our town and altho' there is much more tolerance over the later years, there is still quite a division between white and black in their daily activities. Interesting. Have we progressed or not????
Thanks for the opportunity to share my experiences." - Dee


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