Judith Schlinkert Toxey
And this was only one year
1963 changed my life. The tensions were growing, and everyone was on edge. Then, Easter morning between Sunday School and church, a couple of us dashed over to the local drug store in Homewood—a block from our very big Southern Baptist Church—to read comics and buy gum. As we walked back to our church, a car filled with African Americans pulled into our front parking lot. They stopped briefly, and I looked up to see what they were seeing. The church deacons were standing at the top of the stairs, their arms locked together as if they were playing Red Rover. Then they slowly walked down the stairs with their arms locked together. Their message was clear—they were not going to allow the African Americans to enter our church to worship with us.
Later my mother said, “Those people didn’t come to worship.” I told her I didn’t think Mr. P and Mr. H came to worship either. They were officers of the large insurance company headquartered in Birmingham, and used their church connections for business. I’ll never forget the look of determination on their hard faces.
In May, the protests began in downtown Birmingham. (more…)
Children, don’t answer the phone!!
CHILDREN, DON’T ANSWER THE PHONE!! In 1963, there weren’t yet any smartphones, cellphones, cordless, or touchtone phones, no answering machines or voicemail. At our home on Shades Crest Road in Vestavia, we did have at least 4 phones…rotary, desktop, wall, and a princess phone throughout the sprawling bi-level. We had all been taught how to politely answer & take a message. So my 2 brothers & I found it strange in the autumn of 1963 that our parents suddenly instructed us NOT to answer the phone. The tone of their voices when they gave this directive conveyed urgency; we obeyed, of course. Just let the phone ring, they said, or one of us will answer it!
It wasn’t until years later that we would come to understand why we could not pick up the phone during that turbulent time. September was always my favorite month, and remains so to this day (more…)