Sunday, October 25, 2009

The South Shall Rise ... Again

Question:  What cost $14 million, has three swimming pools and 6 horses?
Answer: The cheapest house in Bedford, New York.

It was also the place where Carnal and I lived when we taught at The Bedford Rippowam School. To be more accurate ... we lived in the "slave quarters" adjacent to the home and behind the barn. The family who lived there were board members of Rippowam and offered it to us. We were glad they did ... there were no rentals in Bedford. In fact, the closest place to get a rental was Mt. Kisco.

Bedford was an elite community of wealthy New Yorkers ... many were celebrities (in recent years ... Glen Close, Martha Stewart and Richard Gere). The Rippowam School was beautiful  as was the town of Bedford ... but to be honest ... it was a little stodgy.

So were some of the teachers.

There was a heirarchy. The English teacher ... who was also the soccer coach ... dominated the daily discussions and was apparently the self proclaimed leader of the faculty.  When I arrived, there was alot of discussion about the upcoming Black Week (an annual celebration of black history and the impact of black leaders on society).

Every time I would enter the teachers' lounge the coach would make a point of talking about the south and the horrible conditions for southern blacks. He would try to goad me into a discussion by asking "funny questions" like ... "Did you folks get television yet?"  ... and my favorite ,"Did your family own any slaves?"

Most of the time I held my tongue but he finally caught me on a bad day and hit me with the slave question again. So I finally replied ...

"Coach, I grew up in a mixed neighborhood. Here, in Bedford, I live in the slave quarters on your board member's estate ... there is not a single black student at this school ... and next week you have to import one from the city to talk to the white students about Black Week. What were you saying about the south?"

The coach just stood there and glared at me ... but his wife, the school secretary, stood up and gave me a big kiss.

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