2002-06-08 / Letters

G-Man Touches A Nerve

G-Man Touches A Nerve

Dear Editor;

The G-man was right on in writing that article, "Bill Bradley...You Were Right!" He hit the old nail right on the head. With all the times it's been hit on the head, regarding his columns on race, you would think we would accept nothing but one's individualism. Here is a tale, which was brought to mind from his article.

It's 1961 and I am leaving on a bus from Manhattan with one other guy, a black kid named Lowell who is also just about 18 years old, we have joined the U.S. Air Force, and are on our way to Lackland Airbase in San Antonio, Texas for basic training.

Well, it's both of our first airplane ride, and we have to make an emergency landing in a field someplace in Pennsylvania with snow up to our knees. So now we have a small new bond as friends. We go through basic training seeing each other only occasionally as we are in different barracks. When we finish our training, we are both assigned to the same school to learn airframe repair for what our new duty or jobs in the U.S. Air Force.

We again are not in the same barracks, and we only say "Hi," once in a while and complain that we wish we were back home. As this school is in a forced learning environment, I do well and after eight weeks we are given our new assignments.

Lowell and I are given orders to report to Turner Air Base in Albany, Georgia. Well, after twenty something hours in bus we arrived at about one o'clock in the morning. The airman on watch told us to find an empty room and get some sleep and in the morning report to the officer in charge. Upon showering and then shaving, I was looking into the fogged mirror and I was blindsided by a punch that knocked me to the floor. I can still see the cowboy boots followed by the air force issued skivvies and a two hundred and fifty pound southern boy told me, "Boy, we don't sleep with niggers."

That was my introduction to life in Albany, Georgia 1961. The barracks, although not officially, were segregated, with the "colored" in some of upper corner rooms. I often wonder how Lowell must have felt. It must have been incredibly difficult; the separate drinking fountains, riding the back of the bus and dealing with all of the things that were part of segregation.


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