57. Separate But Equal

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Ticket in hand, Sarah followed the crowd as it slithered along the sidewalk. People everywhere. Blacks and whites. Moving like a giant serpent towards the Pioneers ballpark. She was glad she'd been able to sell the other ticket after Uncle Albert had refused to go for the third time.

The buyer had bumped into Sarah, literally, one evening while she was shopping for supper at Wally's Grocery. The man apologized. Introduced himself as Mr. Smith. Then somehow they got on the subject of baseball, and the extra ticket came up. Before she knew it, the man offered to buy the ticket for a friend for twenty dollars. But Sarah couldn't sell it for that much. It wouldn't be fair. So they settled on five.

Thirty yards from the entrance, the serpentine mass of people began to divide like a snake splitting into two. White fans flowed to the left, colored fans to the right.

As Sarah shuffled along with the throngs of bodies, she arrived at the shameful reason for the seamless division. Two separate entrances. One for white fans. The other for blacks.

The crowd slowed as a bottleneck formed up ahead at the black entrance. Sarah sighed and shifted from one foot to the other. Ahead of her there was a colored family of three waiting their turn to enter the turnstiles of the ballpark.

"Pa, can you believe the Pioneers really have a black player?" the little boy gushed. He looked about six or seven. His light brown cheeks flushed salmon-red with excitement.

"It's hard not to believe it," the father said, a short man in his forties, sporting a cobalt-blue suit. "His story's been in all the newspapers."

"I hope he gets a home run!" the little boy cried. "Wouldn't that be just great?! Maybe he'll even play better than all the white players!"

"Shhhh!" the boy's father snapped, giving the boy a light whack on the back of his shoulder.

"What'd you do that for?" the boy said, a surprised look on his face.

The mother, a tall lamppost of a woman wearing a prim white dress, rubbed the boy's shoulder. She glanced around nervously.

The boy's father grunted. "How many times have I told you? You can't say that out here."

"But pa," the boy said. "You told me we should be proud of who we are."

The father's expression scrunched up. "But not in public."

The little boy look confused. "I guess I just don't understand."

The father shook his head before changing the subject. "I don't think this situation with Henry Louis is going to do anyone any good," he said in a low tone. "That boy should be playing for a colored team. There're plenty of other Negro teams out there."

"I don't know," the mother said quietly. "This might be good for black baseball players. What if that boy Henry shows he can play as well as the white players? Besides, maybe he didn't want to leave town to join another colored team. Why should he have to pack up and move away if the Pioneers were willing to pick him up?"

The boy's father rolled his eyes but didn't argue with his wife.

The line began to move again.

Sarah stepped forward, heading towards the entrance marked "Colored Section."


Author's Note

This was one my favorite chapters to write!

The innocence of that little boy is priceless.

This chapter is about two things:

1) Depicting the divide between blacks and whites with another example - separate entrances into Union Steel Ballpark. Oh, and using the metaphor of a snake dividing into two.

2) Showing how this "division of races" was created in the minds of adults (the father) who then taught it to their children (the little boy).

Until next time, thanks for the reads, votes, and feedback!!

Best Regards,

Tom

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