Regular Americans Speak Out Part 7 Waitress, Child, and Tailor

A series of essays from various regular Americans on love, work, and life in these United States including a waitress, child, and tailor.

America Speaks

MARY LOWE, Camden, Ala.

"I worked in Tuscaloosa as a waitress. I've been through integration. Folks down here have a fit if colored folks come in to eat. But I've served them. I know what's going to happen. I've got nothing against colored people. And I'll tell you what--they don't give you as much trouble as white people do. And they tip better. . . .

"When we moved to Camden 5 years ago, all the wives of the men who worked on the dam project used to wear our short shorts to town. And these local women raised a ruckus about it. People around here just didn't wear shorts.

"They went down to the courthouse and tried to get a petition to keep us from wearing our short shorts to town. So we wore them shorter and shorter and shorter. Camden's a small country town, and they're used to going around fully dressed. They're old-fashioned. But now people are used to short shorts. When we moved in, the old people were afraid. Now they're used to us....

"I'd hate to leave this town. I've met so many good folks here. It's true a few people run this county. They've lived here all their lives, and for generations before that their families have been here. But I'd still love to stay. And we will, if my husband can get a job at the paper mill." (From: Down Home by Bob Adelman. New York, Quadrangle, 1974.)

JACOB SLOTNIK, tailor, age 81, Worcester, Mass.

"That's how my life is. Sometimes--lonesome in the house--during the week I don't mind, I go to the store. But Sunday--and now I can't work how I used to--arthritis, sometimes I can't keep the thimble there--but I can't stay home, you know, I get crazy. Lots of people, they get 65, they give up--walk about like dead people--thank God I got a trade, I don't have to go to my children and ask them for a few dollars. That's lucky. And down in the store the customers come, we talk a little, this one comes and that one, I see people, the day goes by..." (From: Man-scapes by Colin Henfrey. Boston, Gambit, 1973.)

THECLA R., child, aged 3 years 7 months, New Haven, Conn.

"Once there was a little girl. She ate too many raisins. She got sick. The doctor had to come. And they had to stick a needle in her. She cried. Then he had to listen to her heart. And then he had to give her some pills. Then he had to go home to his little girl. Then she had to eat lunch. Then she got better. Then she could have someone to play with. Then that child that was playing with her slept for the night. Then she had to eat her breakfast with her daddy and mommy. Then she had to go to school." (From: Children Tell Stories by Pitcher and Prelinger. New York, International Universities Press, 1963.)

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