Will, I think there's too much put into our heads about 'blending' . . . when I was thirteen (it was the year 1956), I was in Florida . . . my father, being a CNR man (railway) took us all down there on the train - we rode free, of course.
Dad was a truck driver for the CNR - it was called 'CN Express' - he didn't actually work on the trains. Our pass entitled us to take one trip 'out of the country', meaning to the 'States' per year. Guess we could have gone farther - South America, maybe - dunno'.
Anyway, that was the only time we ever went that far on the train - Dad liked driving and wasn't one to go to 'foreign places'.
I myself, at 13, hadn't seen too many negro people - there were some here in Toronto at that time - most of them lived downtown - I was raised in the 'Beaches' - east end of the city.
I was fascinated with the black people down south - I'd met so many and seen so many on the train going down there, and at places where we stopped for a couple of hours.
When we arrived at our hotel in Miami, my mother was told to speak to me -seems I wasn't supposed to be socializing with the hotels porter - we don't do that here, ma'am, the hotel manager told my mother.
I wasn't supposed to be hanging around the staff's children outside their rooms either.
That first day, I got into all kinds of trouble - I went in the water at 'tide time' when nobody was supposed to be on the beach! Oh, that was thrilling - I actually experienced what is now called 'body surfing' - ha ha!
Just as I thought a wave was never going to let me go, I was plunked back on the sand gasping for air.
One of the beach house attendants promptly marched me back into the hotel - my parents were furious, of course!
I made friends with the other hotel guests, and some down by the pier - first boyfriend and all - he was 14 and his brother was an 'older' guy - all of 17.
We were there about 3 weeks - when we got on the train to go home, I made friends with a black girl - she'd been outside the washroom in our car, as the one in hers was in use, with others waiting.
We talked about the thing all 13 year old girls talk about - boys - and I got her to come and sit with me.
My parents weren't worried about it. Till the conductor came along and said to my Dad - your daughter's friend will have to go back to her car - we don't do that here, sir!
My father was furious - he told him he was an employee of the Canadian Railway and all that - but it didn't make any difference. If the girl didn't move, she'd be put off at the next stop.
I was so angry - I had no idea that there were places in the world where you weren't allowed to socialize with somebody because of colour.
Hadn't all the pictures I'd seen in my Sunday School books, showed a mix of colours? Weren't the children sitting at the feet of Jesus different colours? We were taught in Sunday School to respect people who were different, the blacks, the yellows and the reds.
I wasn't impressed with Southern America, lemme' tell ya'.