The summers in Columbus Ohio were hot. I spent most of my childhood trying to cool off from the Midwest heat. My favorite pastime was riding my bike. It was my Cadillac to new adventures. When the school years ended, I would say good-bye to all my friends white and black. I would see them in the fall when school would dreadfully start back. My black friends I would see all summer in the street and stores. My white friends I would not see until fall because only one or two of them lived on my block. In addition, my surprise in the summer of early 1970’s I saw them! Moreover, they saw me!
I decided to ride my bike to a new area that I had not been too. The summer heats drifted me far away from home that day and up many new streets. I let the hot heat wind guide me. I wanted to go swimming so bad the summer, but the only pool we could attend for blacks was too far away. As I rode my bike farther from home, I could hear the splashing of water and the sound of kids playing Marco Polo. I followed this sound as it led me to Crystal Pool. The world suddenly slowed down. As I rode my bike in front of the pool, I could see some of my white friends in the water having fun. I reached the end of the street and turned around to head back home. I saw a sign the said “No colored allowed” hanging on the white pool entrance wall.
My white friend I had played with all school year long started running toward me in slow motion to the fence as I rode by. I could hear several of them screaming very loud “Go away Nigger! You are not allowed!”. The same kids I had helped in spelling and drew Charlie Brown pictures for five cent, were yelling at the top of their voices. I was no longer the artist in the class they love, but the Nigger that rode her bike near their segregated pool. I listened and watched in slow motion as a tear ran down my face given me the only relief from the summer sun and racism . My heart was broken while my skin was burning in the heat to get darker every moment as I rode by. The last face I saw was a female friend I played with every day on the playground at recess. We would collect dandelion from the field and make design with them randomly placing them in the baseball fence. She ran toward the fence in the pool screaming “Nigger” at the top of her voice as I rode by. She shook her fist at me and called me “Jungle Monkey” and “Tar Baby.” I felt the hate leak on the street from the pool like water. I slowly rode away letting my tears fly off my face to the hot summer ground. NO colored Allowed.
I never learned to swim. Crystal Pool was the nearest pool in my area. The owner was forced in 1976 to open the pool to blacks. He hated black people so much that he closes the pool and poured cement in it to ensure it would never used by people of color. No colored allowed.
As a mother, I made sure my kids knew how to swim. I took them to swim center and made them take classes. This painting above is the emotional intense expression of my experience that summer. I sold this painting in Colorado a few years ago. All I have left is this photo of the painting. But inside I have the peace of knowing that even if I cannot swim…. I can paint. All Blacks Allowed!