The Richmond Register

February 5, 2014

We old folks are still confused

By Dick Ham
Register Columnist

RICHMOND — I was just thinking the other day about the changes we’ve seen in our lives and how they often confuse us.

To be very honest, this is simply a continuation of last week’s column. I had several more things I wanted to share and one very special experience.

Because TV was not yet available, the radio was very important when I was young. During World War II, we listened to Dad’s favorite newscaster, Gabriel Heatter. There was very little conversation at the table because Heatter gave the most recent news about the war at 6 p.m.

There were some Saturday evening programs that we often listened to as a family. I remember the Dennis Day Show, the Judy Canova Show and Your Hit Parade. That one showcased the most popular music of the past week.

There were soap operas in the afternoon that mostly were popular with the ladies. Helen Trent was one of those, and there were several mor,e but I can’t remember the names.

There were a lot of game shows, the most famous being Truth or Consequences. That was so popular, a small town in New Mexico changed it’s name to Truth or Consequences.

There were a number of kids’ shows that I enjoyed. Terry & the Pirates, Steve Canyon, The Lone Ranger, The Shadow and many more.

I had an experience in those days that made a permanent impression on my heart and mind. It happened in 1948 or 1949. I was 13 or 14 years of age.

At that time segregation was the custom if not the law in Kentucky and the southern states. Although there was a large neighborhood of black folks very near our Louisville neighborhood, we had very little contact with each other.

In the fall, my pals and I would rush home from church on Sunday. We would eat a quick lunch and get into our football clothes and head for South Central Park. It was a city park and just four blocks from my house. We would spend the entire afternoon playing football.

One afternoon, when we were finished playing, we were sitting in a big circle laughing and chatting as young boys do. One of the guys told us he had gotten to know a black kid and was told that he and his friends gathered to play football in their neighborhood, too. As the conversation continued, someone suggested that we see if they would come to our park and play against us.

Arrangements were made, and on the agreed upon day, they arrived, riding in the back of a dump truck, driven by the father of one of the boys. They piled out and we got the game organized.

They had one small kid on their team I’ll never forget. They called him Slick. He was so fast we discovered we could never contain him when he had the ball. We tried everything and nothing worked.

We were having so much fun, but all of a sudden a police car drove up. The officers told us a neighbor had called and complained because the blacks were in a segregated park, only for the use of whites.

If you can picture this, the blacks loaded into their truck and left. We sat in the grass, many of us crying. That is indelibly imprinted in my mind and heart, and I will never forget the unfairness of that time.

As February is Black History Month, I wanted to share this memory. We can all be thankful those days are behind us.


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