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AfriGeneas Writers Forum

Re: Excerpts from How We Used To Live

I grew up in Alabama during the late 40s and early 50s. In my town of Tuscaloosa and neighboring Northport, the residential patterns seemed to be of the "crazy quilt " variety. Many of the homes of Black people were in areas that could be identified as "the Black part of town." However, there were several areas of both towns where the neighborhoods were mixed. In some neighborhoods some streets were all White and some all Black. Inother neighborhoods Black homes and White homes existed side by side. And in still others, Blacks and Whites (generally renters) often moved in and out of the same houses to the extent that it was impossible to tell at any
given time which race was occupying a particular house in that neighborhood.

The one ironclad rule for which there was no exception was schooling. Even though we could have been from the same neighborhood we never went to the same school. That is why the whole mantra about neighborhood schools was one big joke. I never went to the elementary school in my neighborhood because I wasn't allowed to go . And I wasn't bussed to elementary school either. I
WALKED.

It was also interesting that the residential patterns mentioned above always occurred in neighborhoods that would be classified as "middle-class" down to "poor." As I recall the period, those neighborhoods that could be
truly identified as "affluent" (reading RICH) were exclusively White. Even though there were a few Blacks in town who were quite a few steps above "well-off", because of either customs,or laws, or possibly even preference, they found themselves living in the middle class to poor neighborhoods. From what I have seen, heard, and observed in the years
since causes me to opine that this was probably common in many southern towns, even though much of the literature that I have run across dealing with customs and folkways of the south generally gives short shrift to sociological oddities of this nature.

Oh by the way....my house, and all the houses I knew of had glass window panes. However, lots of them had tin roofs. To a youngster of the times those tin roofs were real inviting targets during Halloween (No trick or treat for us.....you were not given a choice.)

Cordially,

Paul E. Meacham


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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