Now that we no longer had to be afraid of catching polio, I could spend my summers at the place I loved best–the swimming pool.
The pool was walking distance from my house, and I spent every hour I could in the water.
Dad swore that I must be half boy and half fish.
Mom and Dad had to force me to get out of the water every so often before I turned blue and my fingertips ended up permanently wrinkled. The minutes I had to wait before I was allowed back in seemed like hours.
By mid-June I had spent so much time in the Texas sun my skin had turned a beautiful shade of brown.
They weren’t? I knew Negroes never came to the pool, but I wasn’t sure about Mexicans. I didn’t know anything about Mexicans. I didn’t know how you could tell if someone was a Mexican, but I knew I wasn’t one.
What was I? I wasn’t a Mexican and I wasn’t a Negro. I was so unsettled by his hostility I stammered…
He glared at me for what seemed like forever and then turned and swam away.
Why did I say that?
What have I done? Why didn’t I just say no? What if they don’t allow Jews in here, either? What if they kicked me and my whole family out and never let us swim here again, all because of my stupid big mouth?
I spent the entire rest of the afternoon trying to hide, terrified that I would be discovered and sent home and never ever allowed swim here again, all because I told them I was a Jew.