The Drive Back Home -- By: Tina Saxon

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 04:1 (Winter 1990)
Article: The Drive Back Home
Author: Tina Saxon

The Drive Back Home

Tina Saxon

Traveling home from the summer ‘89 CBE conference unearthed a flood of sad memories that surprised me in the light of the supreme joy I had experienced at the conference itself. Although the still, small voice whispering “This too shall pass” brought comfort, the memories, once uncovered, reflected a pain and anguish familiar to those acquainted with such suffering.

My husband George and I stopped earlier than expected on the first day of our drive from St. Paul to Boston. Our youngest daughter, soon to be twelve, and our grandchild, age four, were both very tired of each other’s company, and both had developed summer colds. We decided to put the girls to bed and generally relax after the exciting, but demanding, weekend.

Finally everyone else was sleeping. Except for the sound of the air conditioning, the entire universe seemed to have become still and motionless. But at 4:30 A.M. I was wide awake, because the distant past had suddenly seeped into the present. Although I looked over to the other double bed and thanked God that things had changed so from the time I was these children’s ages, I could no longer suppress or ignore the memories that flooded my mind.

I was about eleven years old. My aunt and uncle were moving from Tampa to Washington, D.C., as my mother had done years earlier. They were making their final trip, with the last of their belongings and my mother and I were there helping them.

As I ran around the back of the car, I saw the car was closer to the ground than usual. And when my uncle yelled, “Get in!” I stood frozen. The three adults were in the front seat, and I panicked as he jumped from behind the wheel with that hard, stern look of anger he usually wore. My aunt, intimidated, mumbled “Give her time, she’s getting in.” But she was wrong. I was not getting in because I saw no place for me to sit.

The space in the back seat beside the huge TV set was filled with boxes, clothes, and lamps. But even though there was not even room enough to shift my body (and I was a skinny child) my uncle put me there for the twenty-seven hour ride. I felt like a rag doll being stuffed into an overcrowded toy chest Hidden.

We ate while we rode—food out of a shoe box, chicken and boiled eggs prepared especially for the trip. But no one had to explain why we had to travel like this—crammed in, reluctant to stop. In those days, “colored” people were not allowed in most hotels or restaurants, nor were they welcome to stretch their legs in the beautiful parks they passed. I knew that only white people were allowed the comforts of life. And although I suspected that there might be some “colored” people somewhere who had more m...

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