Crossing the Tracks Story Editor:
Robert B. Albright Joyce Schowalter
As a small boy growing up in Kokomo, Indiana, my father had polio. In 1898 they didn't call it that. But from the symptoms my Grandmother and he described, that's what it was. It did not go into the paralytic stages, but still, the effects of polio can be quite bad.
After he recovered somewhat he was very frail and was not very healthy as a child. In addition, he was prone to get horrible nosebleeds.
As boys tend to do, he loved to wander all over the place. In those days, there was a "white section" of town, and a "black section"; segregation was the norm if not the law. He usually stayed in the white section, as his family would have expected. One hot summer day he was far from home and at the edge of both communities.
His nose started to bleed. With his clothes covered with blood, he went to a couple of houses in the white section, seeking help from an adult. They just ran him off.
My father wandered further away from home, and eventually bled so much he could no longer stand up. Nearby a group of people was having a family gathering. One of the ladies there saw my father's plight. Because of the occasion, she was dressed in her finest clothes. My father was covered with blood and dirt, but that didn't make any difference to that lady. Here was another human being who needed help and needed it now. She scooped him up and took him back to her family gathering.
In today's world, ruining her clothes may not seem like much. But in those days, the average family owned two sets of clothes: one for "every day" and one for dressing up.
She and her relatives worked on my father until they got the nosebleed stopped. They used their valuable ice on him -- ice they wouldn't have had, if not for the party. It was far too expensive in those days.
After stopping his bleeding, they washed him up, by which time he was barely conscious. While rendering first aid, this lady inquired where my father lived. Having already interrupted her family party to help him, she took this frail little boy in her arms and began to carry him home.
It was a couple miles to my father's house. By now, my grandmother was worried, and looking for him. My grandmother met her part way, then rushed home with her son in her arms.
The lady who rushed to my father's aid was black, and in those days could have gotten into trouble for going into the white neighborhood. Not while carrying a white boy home, but on her way back without him.
Had my father bled to death on that hot Indiana day so many years ago, I
wouldn't be here. The rest of my family and I are in that lady's debt still,
over a century later.
Charles D. McKinley, 25, of Brooklyn, N.Y., had four weeks of vacation coming, so he decided to visit his parents in DeSoto, Texas. Rather than buy a plane ticket for $320, McKinley, a shipping clerk, packed himself into a shipping crate and air-expressed himself home, charging the fees to his employer. When the crate was delivered to his parents' front step, McKinley pushed out of the box and shook hands with the "shaken and frightened" delivery driver. The driver called the police. After an investigation by the FBI, the U.S. attorney, postal inspectors, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Security Administration, McKinley was charged as a stowaway, a federal misdemeanor. (Dallas Morning News) ...If he had only waited for the driver to leave, he would have been home free.
Librarians are protesting a new "action figure" being released by Archie McPhee and Co. of Seattle, Wash. The $8.95 doll, complete with "amazing push-button shushing action!", is "a lovely idea and a lovely tribute to my chosen profession," says librarian Nancy Pearl, 58, whom the doll is modeled after. But other librarians don't like it one bit. "The shushing thing just put me right over the edge," says Diane DuBois of the Caribou (Me.) Public Library. "It's so stereotypical I could scream." (AP) ...Hey! What part of "shush" don't you understand?
Six retired Floridians play high stakes poker in the condo clubhouse. A member of the group, Meiers, loses $5000 on a single hand, clutches his chest and drops dead at the table. Showing respect for their fallen comrade, the other five finish playing the hand standing up. Finkelstein looks around and asks, "So, who's gonna' tell his wife?"
They cut the cards, and Goldberg "wins" the duty. They tell him to be discreet, be gentle, not to make a bad situation any worse.
"Discreet? I'm the most discreet person you'll ever meet. Discretion is my middle name," he sayl. Leave it to me." Goldberg goes over to the Meiers' apartment and knocks on the door. Mrs. Meiers wife answers and asks what he wants. Goldberg declares, "Your husband just lost $5000 playing poker, and is afraid to come home."
"Tell him to drop dead!" says the wife.
"Will do," he says.
Passengers on a small plane are waiting for the flight to leave. They're getting a little impatient, but the airport staff assures them the pilots will be there soon, and then the flight can take off. Finally the entrance opens, and two men dressed in Pilots' uniforms walk up the aisle. Both are wearing dark glasses, one is using a guide dog, and the other is tapping his way along the aisle with a white cane. Nervous laughter spreads through the cabin, but the men enter the cockpit, the door closes, and the engines start up. The passengers begin glancing nervously around, searching for some sign that this is just a little practical joke. None is forthcoming. The plane moves faster and faster down the runway, and the people sitting in the window seats realize they're headed straight for the water at the edge of the airport territory. As it begins to look as though the plane will plow into the water, panicked screams fill the cabin.
At that moment, the plane lifts smoothly into the air. The passengers relax and laugh a little sheepishly, and soon all retreat into their magazines, secure in the knowledge that the plane really is in good hands. Meanwhile, in the cockpit, the pilot turns to the co-pilot and says, "You know, Jim one of these days, they're gonna scream too late and we're all gonna die."