Posted by: patwogan | February 2, 2014

Civil Rights in the Forties

After I worked at Woolworth’s, I worked for a time at Wallgreen’s Drug Store in Independence.  I worked during the summer and I worked at the lunch counter.  I remember a customer who came in every morning for his breakfast.  He was some sort of “big shot” in Independence, but I don’t really know what he did.  I just remember that he always had scrambled eggs, toast, and coffee for breakfast.  He always left me a ten-cent tip.  When he died he left $80,000. to Independence for something very civic-minded.  Before you think he was a cheap-skate, just leaving me a ten-cent tip, remember I was making forty cents an hour.  

But I digress from civil rights.  While working at Walgreen’s lunch counter, I was told the store policy was not to seat negroes.  So if negroes came in for a sandwich or drink, we were to tell them that they would have to stand behind the stools to order and then I would pass their food to them there.  We also did not serve them on china or glass dishes/glasses, but on paper plates and in paper cups.   I thought nothing about this at the time as that was just the way it was.  No one ever challenged me on it.  

I lived through the Civil Rights Movement, but it was only when I watched that movie the other night that it dawned on me that I was a part of it.  I don’t know what I would have done had I been challenged like the people who staged a sit-in at the Woolworth’s lunch counter.  I had attended integrated schools since Kindergarten.  Perhaps, just as it seemed perfectly natural to me, it must have seemed perfectly natural to the people I served.  

 

 

 

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