The school I attended as a kid was segregated: the teachers were all women. (The principal was a woman too, though I’d been there a few years before I knew anything about a principal.)
A couple of decades later, the first summer after my first year of teaching at Colby, Hilary and I drove across Canada. In Vancoever we encountered a bar that had a separate entrance for Men and Women. Hilary and I were together on the street, once inside the bar we were again together, sat at the same table, but to enter the establishment we had to use the marked gateways. We had an extra chuckle because it reminded us of the school building we’d seen in Forestport NY when we stopped to visit my old roomie Bill. The school building had separate entrances, clearly marked: Boys, Girls. Hilary already knew about the time when David and I worked the race track at Saratoga for the month of August: we rented a room in Balston Spa, the White Horse; the name of my favorite bar in the Village (the name of my favorite bar ever!): Michelob on tap, at a time when Michelob was hard to come by, wasn’t sold in bottles yet: you had to find a bar that had it on draft, from the barrel. Anyway, Balston Spa’s White Horse Hotel was split in its restaurant between the men only bar (the bar maid was female), and the coed tables in the back.
Upstate, and out west north of the border, things were very different than they’d been in New York, or on Long Island in the 1940s, 1950s.
Now in my public school boys and girls sat together in the one classroom, we came and went through the door together too. And there was a faculty room, and all the faculty in that room were female, but there were no male teachers, no male administrators, you wouldn’t need to decide on a place to stash the males, there weren’t any. Oh, the school board was male, but what did we kids know about that in 1945? Anyway, I later heard of other schools, schools that did have male teachers: and those schools had to have separate faculty rooms, segregating the adult men from the adult women! The children mixed, but not the grownups!
The school I attended as a kid was segregated in more than one way. I was well out of that school before I became aware of many of them, and the society in general resists consciousness of anything not immediately promising to put money in your pocket. One day mid-way though grade school the day’s routine was interrupted as two little black girls, identical twins, were ushered into the class and put someplace. I was fascinated, I’d never seen any black children, let alone identical twins, let alone corn rows, negro pigtails, adorable little red checkered dresses. One girl held her pencil with her finger bent almost backwards, fascinating me. But in a couple of days these girls were gone, never to be seen again. We be in senior high school before we ever saw a black boy in school, and he was there only long enough to spend a couple of years on the football team, achieve the age of sixteen, and drop out.
A different post here tells of my discovery, aged nineteen or so, that my hometown had a black ghetto, well hidden: I doubt that 1% of the white inhabitants of Rockville Centre had any idea this neighborhood existed, you wouldn’t likely find it by accident. It would be interesting to survey somehow how many of my school classmates remember the black twins, wonder how they appeared, out of thin air, where they disappeared to a couple of days later: and where DJ, the footballer, came from. What’s he doing in a Rockville Centre school if there are no blacks here? Well, we were just liars, but not perfect liars. Standard members of a society don’t see the lies, we train ourselves not to see them. Our teachers so train us.
more after I make coffee
Posting this and preparing a link for a menu showed me that I’d already used the title Segregation, misleading the reader to set up a small joke. I’d written a piece for IonaArc, then transplanted it at K. The subject was gender segregation within the (always changing) culture: can men and women be friends? (not in my generation.)
I’ll coordinate them, later.
Funny that I’ve committed the same writer’s joke twice now: saying segregation, knowing everyone will think racial, while I example gender segregation, then address segregation by age group … I’ll get to the racial, believe me.
Segregation (from IonaArc)