Monday, November 2, 2009

One Night Stand

When my mother was a child in Florida, they used to post meetings of the KKK on the telephone poles. She has some KKK membership application framed now, somewhere in her house, but I’m not sure it’s from Florida. She’s not a Kluck. I think to Mom it means that she saw something of the passage of history and has an artifact to prove it.

When my dad was a young man, he used to be a Disc Jockey. This was when you used to type up your playlist before the show and give the carbon to your boss, checked off, after the shift—long time ago. He was from Ohio and he was Irish Catholic on his mother’s side.

He took a summer job spinning platters in some southern town, Unspecified. He had a nice landlord, an upstairs one bedroom unit that was part of a house, and a very nice boss who made all these welcoming arrangements for him in advance.

His first night, someone called in. He was asked to give a radio announcement of the local KKK meeting over the air.

So he gave it. Then he invited all the local blacks, Jews, and Catholics to attend as special guests.

The phone rang: “Boy, you get back on the air and you take that back.”

My father got back on the air and announced the meeting again. He told his listening audience that he had been told to take his ad-libbed portion of the message back. Then he said,

“On the contrary, I will repeat it.” And he did.

When Dad came home, the landlord had already packed the trunk of his car with all his worldly goods.

“Bye, now. You be safe. Don’t stop for anything until you’re past the county line.”

The way my dad told it, this had nothing to do with his landlord being KKK. He didn’t want any trouble on his property. No burned house, no dead platter-man in the yard.

I don’t think my Dad’s stand was based on a position about racial equality or even Catholic Emancipation. I think he didn’t like being told what to do. In the defiant category, we are a lot alike.

It's worth deciding whether he won or lost. I would think that answer could be long and complicated. Or, really short: he lived to tell the tale.

I don’t know what he did for the rest of the summer.


Anonymous said...

I think I'd like your dad.

Capt. Schmoe said...

Quite a story. Thanks for the post.