1. Were you able to ride the bus in Columbus by yourself?  Did you ever notice, or think about the fact that African Americans had to ride in the back?

         My family moved to Columbus from Birmingham in the summer of 1950 when I was nine years old.  Yes, I rode the bus by myself even then.  It was the way to go to town, to church, to the library.  Safety was never a concern.  I can't remember a single untoward incident.

         We did have a family car (one was the norm for families back then), but it was used for business and household needs.  Of course, I did get lucky sometimes and finagled a ride.

         I almost always rode the Talbotton/Wynnton bus.  This particular route served mainly white neighborhoods and consequently had fewer African-American riders.  But those who did, as you mentioned, had to ride in the back.  Racial segregation, of course, was not just on the buses; it was everywhere.  As a young boy, I can't say I thought about it very much.  That's the way both races wanted it, we were told.  But that assertion did not hold up against life experiences.  The unfairness and injustice of that entire system was apparent to me by my early teen years.  Brown vs. the Board of Education had been resolved, and the voices of African Americans grew loud enough for everyone to hear.  Columbus had some difficult years and change was slow to come.  It was long overdue.

         While segregation kept the races apart, I had several opportunities to interact on a personal level with African Americans.  My father owned and operated a "colored" (meaning African American) cafe on 1st Avenue called "Jake & Joe's."  As a boy, I tried to be helpful by doing small tasks there, but I think everyone just sort of put up with me.  I had a great time and met many interesting people.  In high school, I had a job at a grocery store on Front Avenue called "Colonial Stores," which served primarily African-American customers.  When I first started there, I was told by one longtime employee that I should stop saying  "Ma'am" to African-American women. That really rankled me.  "Ma'am" was a sign of respect for any woman.  I ignored the suggestion and enjoyed my work there for several more years.