Saturday, January 3, 2015

Roanoke, Civil Rights, and Leopard Onesies

We were recently on the road to Florida traveling down I95, with thousands of other people.  We stopped in Roanoke Virginia (Southern Virginia) for lunch and I saw something unusual. 

I also recognized Roanoke as the place where we had an accident back in 1973 on a family vacation. We were waiting at a stoplight in our rented 2 door chevelle and then boom, we were hit from behind. The car that hit us was immobilized and there were a group of black teens in the car. My father walks to a house and calls the police. When he gets back, there is only one teen left. The state trooper eventually arrives in his Stetson hat and puts my dad in the front seat and the teen in the back.

Remember we are 5 Canadians, white, and my father is a distinguished looking gentleman with an English accent. We naively think that race relations were fixed in the early sixties by the civil rights movement and laws. 

As told by my father (and remembered by me), he explained that we're on vacation from Canada and were hit.  The trooper says something like "Mr Whitton, I am very sorry this happened.."  Then he turns around and says "boy, what do you have to say fo yo self!"  "I smell liquor on yo breath!, you in a heap of trouble!"  He asked my father to follow him to the courthouse and give a statement and then he would help us get a hotel room, since we would not get to our destination with the delay. 

At the courthouse, my father relates what happened to a judge. The judge then turns to the teen and says "boy, you in a whole heap of trouble!  What is yo mammy going to say?"  My father by this time is in total shock thinking he is complicit in some KKK situation. We are escorted to a local motel, spend the night and continue on our way. Welcome to the South in 1973!

Back to our lunch stop. Everyone likes to be comfortable on long car rides. I notice a teenage girl walking by in leopard print onesie pajamas wearing UGG boots. Quite a show in 2015 Roanoke Va at the chick-fil-a, a lot has changed since 1973.

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