Mo-om! Do we HAVE to? I hate shopping for clothes!
Yes, we have to. You’ve been invited to a party and you don’t have anything to wear. Now, get in the car and stop complaining.
You’ve outgrown your only good clothes, and you need new ones by Saturday.
I hated new clothes, especially dressy stuff! I was small and skinny, and they never fit me right. Plus, the shirts were always stiff and scratchy.
Why couldn’t I just wear my old t-shirt and shorts instead?The lady at the department store measured me and handed me some clothes to try on.
This was confusing. The shirt was white, but the pants were dark grey.
I didn’t see a dressing room for anything but whites. When I explained the problem to the saleslady, she burst out laughing.
I hate being laughed at.
No, honey. The dressing room is for white PEOPLE only. Negroes aren’t allowed to try on clothes.
This made no sense. Why not?
Sweetie, don’t be silly. White people won’t buy clothes that Negroes have tried on.
Because they won’t. If people knew we let Negroes try on clothes we’d be out of business in no time. That’s just the way it is, hon.
The only Negro I knew was the janitor who worked in my Dad’s restaurant.
He was always nice to me, and he seemed clean enough. I never noticed that he smelled any different than anyone else. I had no idea what cooties were, but if he had any I’d never seen them.
On the way home I could tell that Mom was unhappy. She said there were many things in this world that weren’t fair, but that there wasn’t much we could do about it. All we could do is hope that things would change.
I had a lot to think about.
I decided I didn’t like my new clothes.