I wrote this some time ago. Thought I would share this here
I was around 10 the first time I saw an African-American. Two dark men in work clothes had backed a truck full of hay up to my Cub Scout den mother’s barn. The other guys and I were playing about 30 feet away from them. They had a boy about our age with them. He was a little bigger than we were. The other boys cut off running when they saw they had seen us. But to me the boy looked like a chance to make a new friend. I don’t remember if we said anything as we approached each other, I think I said “hi”. The next thing I knew I was on the ground with him on top of me. He wasn’t hurting me but he sure had me trapped. I heard the men yell “what are you doing?” I was wondering the same thing. He got up off me and ran to the men and started helping them unload the hay into the barn. I figured that’s why he had bigger muscles than me.
Several years later I learned why I didn’t see any other African-Americans around, when a guy in junior High told me “No n—-r ever spent the night in Pryor and none ever would. They didn’t dare to”. I kind of knew what that word meant but the only time I heard that word at home was when my mother was talking about her favorite nut (What we call a Brazil nut now). A phrase she dropped sometime before I left for college.
Around 1963, we began attending a church in Tulsa. There I developed a friendship with a boy a little younger than me named Richard. I really enjoyed playing with him. So much so I wanted him to spend the night some weekend like some of my other church friends had. I knew better that to spring this on my folks in front of him and his mother so I broached the subject one Friday night. They got the strangest look on their faces. Looked at each other then one of them said we can’t. “Why?” I wanted to know. “We don’t want a cross burnt in our front yard” was their reply. That mystified me. The very idea that someone would do something so strange because I had a friend spend the night. But the fear in my parents’ eyes stopped me pursuing that train of thought.