We each had three children and after midnight, we would load the kids into our respective cars, leave our husbands at home, and find a lonely stretch of road on the far south side of Cottage Grove Avenue. We would wait at a red light and at the first inkling of the light changing to green, we would literally push the pedal to the metal. The first person to reach the next red light would win the race. Our children, in the back seats, with no seat belts, would jump and cheer us on as we would race over 100 mph on a CITY STREET. We were crazy and didn't even know it, but it was fun. Can you imagine that happening today? What was the most foolish thing you did in your twenties?
On all family road trips, I was the chief driver, and I was always trying to set a record. We didn't worry about gas mileage because a gallon of gasoline only cost between 30 and 35 cents. The children preferred my driving because they liked speed, also, and Daddy drove too slowly and carefully for them.
My mother had a large old-fashioned porch. It was not unusual to find at least ten of us sitting on the porch on any given day. The children waited for the ice cream truck and we hoped that my Mom was cooking dinner. As neighbors walked by, everyone spoke. It was like living in a small town.
Once, and only once, I took Moody to the Opera House to see Boris Godunov. Since it was our first trip to the opera, I borrowed clothes from my sister, so I could look like I belonged. He slept through most of the opera and I awoke him during intermission so we could go buy a drink. In the lobby we saw his former ROTC Colonel and his wife. Mrs. Ray was very elegant; she had a diamond pin on a sleek, black silk dress. Every hair was in place and her make-up was impeccable. Colonel Ray was tall, dark, and handsome in his black suit and stiff white shirt. They looked like they belonged.
We exchanged greetings and Mrs. Ray asked if we were "patrons of the opera." While I tried to compose some reply that didn't sound provincial, Moody responded. "No," he said. "We're just here because we have free tickets. This dude started dying in the first act. Every time I think he is about to die, he jumps ups and sings another song. Will this guy ever die?" Stunned, everyone just looked at him and smiled. In 1989, when we traveled to Russia, we saw a statue of Godunov in a museum. I pointed it out to him, saying, "Look, Moody, your opera." "Well," he responded, "that guy finally died."
As popular culture changed so did the music. The music of Motown flooded the country and many teenagers formed groups, sang on corners, and waited for Barry Gordy to discover them. Motown is credited, by many, with helping music to "crossover." Before, Blacks listened to so-called race music on Black stations and white radio stations did not play Black music. Some Black music could only be played on white stations if the song had been "covered" by a white group. The sixties changed that.
Our life has been filled with contrasting images. One benefit of the '60s (for us) was the rich man we met who used to fly us first class across the country to integrate parties and dinners. We stayed in fancy, five star hotels and had a driver at our disposal. He lived in a fabulous home in the Bay Area Hills and he introduced us to a life we only knew about in the movies. Riding in a limo after being shot at in Mississippi can jar your senses. Which is real? Having cocktails in a home that overlooked the bright lights of the city before being chauffeured to a five star restaurant to eat foods we didn't even know existed can awaken your awareness. We had no idea how large the gap was between the rich and the poor. It strengthened our resolve to do more for others, especially in the field of education.
During this decade we began a soon to be life-long experience of bringing other children into our home and working with young people on an individual basis. They call it mentoring now. I wish I had kept count of the number of children who call us Mom and Dad. We wanted to adopt a couple of my eighth graders but were told that we were too young and already had three children. So, we did the next best thing. They just came when they could and we helped when we could. We didn't know that our mentoring would increase exponentially in the next three decades.
One of the most dynamic decades was winding down. We didn't realize it but our time in Chicago was coming to an end.