Lucky I Guess

I was raised in a military family, we moved every 2 to 4 years. During the "radical" 60's, besides being quite young, we lived in Hawaii, Guam and Washington State. We moved back to California in 1970.

I never recall hearing my parents make negative remarks about any "group" of people, be them black, Hispanic or Jewish. I do recall my dad having friends from different minority groups, and they sometimes joked with each other in ways that today would be called politically incorrect, but everyone was always laughing, there was never an air of meanness or discomfort.

I guess I grew up relatively naive about the existence of racism because I didn't see it. I dated people of different races and married a Hispanic. One of my best friends, a black man, taught me how to drive. In fact there was an incident we were involved in, that at the time, I had a vague awareness that racism played a part.

It was at night and I lived on a military base, Tony (the man who taught me to drive) offered to take me driving in a remote area of the base, like taking your kid to a big empty parking lot, he figured I couldn't hurt anyone that way. We are driving down this 2 lane road, no buildings close by and it is very dark. We come upon a big sign painted in red and yellow indicating we have come upon a restricted area. There is no real shoulder to the road, so I have to drive just past the sign in order to have enough room to turn around. Tony decides to get behind the wheel, gets us turned around and heading back the way we came. We hadn't gone 1/4 of a mile when we are pulled over by 2 military police vehicles.

Tony is very respectful and explains why we were out there and that as soon as we saw the sign we turned around. The officers are condescending and act as if he was taking me out there to do bad things to me. I was furious, but Tony tells me not to lose my cool and we head back to my house, as instructed, with them following us. When we get to my house, they follow us up to my door and insinuate to my father that we were out there to make out. Tony maintains his cool and dignity but I lost it and told them they were lying idiots. My dad, being indoctrinated in the military as he was, listens to them, thanks them for bringing me home and they leave. My dad didn't believe them for a minute, but Tony felt the need to come back after they were gone to apologize to my dad that he had gotten me into that situation. Thankfully my dad tells Tony not to worry about, that there is no problem between them.

I was so mad about the way we, especially Tony, were treated by them and at the time couldn't understand why Tony wasn't more indignant. In retrospect, it was probably a nothing incident compared to other experiences he may have had. I already had a lot of respect and trust for Tony and that incident increased those feelings even more.

Tony later went on to become an officer in the nuclear submarine program of the navy.

WittyOne WittyOne
46-50, F
4 Responses Jul 8, 2007

I see nothing "racist" ... Learning to drive 16? and how old was Tony? Out in a deserted restricted area at night. The MP did exactly the right thing. Had nothing to do with race.

This is an interesting and yet kind of a horrible story at the same time, WittyOne. That was clearly a powder-keg situation that you're describing there, if one gets the drift. It's a good thing that Tony was very calm and dignified and didn't blow his cool. Had Tony blown his cool, things could've really come to a bad head for both of you, especially Tony. Glad everything turned out well, and thanks for sharing it with us. I hope the military officers who treated you and Tony the way they did get fired, or at least severely reprimanded.

Thanks for sharing. Good for you for maintianing a color blind attitude. And good for Tony. He rose above it to become a leader in our Country.

It's good that you didn't experience to much in a time that it was so big in. but the situation sucks but Tony handled the situation right. It could of been a lot worse. Here I grew up in a time when it wasn't so bad but I experienced a fair share of it. It would be nice if it didn't exist at all but it does and that won't ever go away. Thanks for sharing your story I really enjoyed it.