Wednesday, July 21st, 2010
“What I remember about Washington was how quiet the children used to be. I was born in the generation where children were supposed to be seen and not heard. That was especially true in my household. My father and step-mother were born in the south and raised in the old school, which means that I grew up with the rod. They demanded the best from me and I had to make straight A’s all through school. Once, I got a B in conduct and even though the entire rest of the class got an F, my step-mother never let me forget it. She was especially strict with me as my father was never home. For most of my life, my step-mother had the first and last word on everything. Except for Father’s Day, my father worked all of the time as an oil man in SE. He may have only had a second grade education, but he owned his own company, and served oil to most of the people over on Capitol Hill.
“I got my work ethic from my father and spent every summer working starting when I was 14. I worked in the summer jobs program under Mayor Washington and made $1.60 an hour, which helped me pay for my school clothes. They placed me in the Junior Village, which worked with children whose parents couldn’t take care of them. While I was working once, Dr. Martin Luther King came by. I immediately left what I was doing and ran outside to shake his hand. I almost got fired from the job, but it was worth it. A few years later, he transitioned from this world to the next.
“When I finished my degree in business administration, I went to go work with my father in the oil business. I would answer the phones and help him with math. Eventually, he ended up working himself sick and into the hospital. I then went on to do administrative work with the Department of Labor, parts of the District government, and finished my career at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). At FDA, I was in telecommunications and got to go all over the world without having to leave D.C. At the time, they had fax machines and I had to verify that all of the offices in foreign countries received my faxes, so my voice got to travel all around the world. Otherwise, I have never left the area. While I was in business school, someone invited me to go to Africa and someone else invited me to go to California. Sometimes I look back and wish that I would have gone, but my parents said no.
“Now, my son and his family live in Texas, so maybe I will go and visit them. He was in the military and is now a police officer. You know, I was so quiet and such a loner as a child that when I had him, everyone joked that I must have had a child through immaculate conception. They couldn’t believe that I got pregnant with a man.
“When he was born, I was living with my mother and working full-time. At the time, drugs were starting to become popular in the neighborhood and I wanted to keep him away from that. I also wanted him to be raised around other children, so he wouldn’t be an only child like I was. So, I moved him out of D.C. and he spent most of his childhood with my nephew and niece out in Seattle, Washington. Remember, I am from the old school where a parent knows what is best for a child. He may not have recognized it at the time, but it made him the man he is today.”