As I walked by Mister Nate’s home, he called me up onto his porch. I could tell the nonagenarian had something on his mind.
I took the cushioned rocking chair next to his.
“Son,” he started, “I jus’ got back from visiting my kids in California.”
He paused. I didn’t interrupt.
“They’ve gotten stupid,” he started, “Not only my grown children, but everyone. Wanna know why?”
I nodded yes.
“I grew up in Tennessee, during Jim Crow,” he said, “Can recall being called ‘nigger,’ the back door to diners, separate toilets and fountains.”
His wife brought out some unsweetened sun tea.
“Never tried sitting at a segregated lunch counter,” he continued, “Instead, I joined the Navy in ’44, served 20-years.”
He paused as if thinking.
“Know why I’m telling you this?” he asked.
“No,” I answered.
“Folks no longer going to the backdoor or the front door of restaurants. Instead they’re eating outside in the parking lot like hobos, bums and beggars. And they don’t even realize they’re willingly segregating themselves and not even putting up a fuss over it. Understand what I’m saying, son.”
“Yes, Master Chief,” I answered.
“I knew you would,” he said.