Every presidential election in this country has, at the time, been of crucial importance. November’s is no exception.

Sen. John McCain, the apparent Republication candidate, has echoed much of the policy that has us enmeshed in the Middle East. On the Democratic side, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barak Obama continue to make promises for what they believe will lead us to La La Land. But here, friends, there’s a vast difference, because the country has never had a woman president, nor has a black man ever sat in the White House.

Despite tons of tolerance, acceptance and good feelings, both published and visual, that permeate our society, there is a dark underside of resentment toward female successes, as well as achievements by blacks at all levels. Solutions have not always came from the pulpit or lectern.

Our small town, many years ago, had a family that was the subject of much derision and mockery. This often happened in smaller communities. My exposure happened when I was in grammar school, the forerunner of what would be known as middle school.

To me, it was a proud passage when I entered the fourth grade of Spring Street School after passing through the initial four years at tiny Cedar Street School. Here, I met two members of the aforementioned, destitute family I will call Evelyn and Brian Wilson, for obvious reasons. Evelyn was a skinny and shy girl who wore clothes handed down from many church rummage sales. Her speech impediment only added to scorn and laughter in her direction.

Her brother was two years older, a rugged kid with long hair decades before it was fashionable. He watched her every move and defended her against ridicule. Brian was meaner than a vagrant alley cat and was the target of discipline from every teacher in the building.

Neither had friends nor acted as if they wanted them.

When Evelyn was called on to recite, her fumbling for words and awkward speech sent ripples of snickers across the room and became another joke of the day at recess. Call for order by the teacher only fueled humor of the moment.

There were no yellow school buses on those days. Many times, neighbors in outlying areas banded together to transport kids, while some walked unreasonable distances daily. It was unthinkable to call off school because of weather. If you couldn’t go, you didn’t go. It was that simple. Not so the Wilsons. Many times, in the extremes of weather, they were the last two to arrive, yet always with the same sullen determination.

Did I join my classmates in laughing at Evelyn’s messing up words we use every day? Or the ludicrous way she and her scruffy brother dressed? Or the way they smelled, whether they did or not? Of course I did. I was a kid, and 9- or 10-year- old kids can be the most cruel idiots in the world.

My dad walked the same mail route for 32 years and that, at the time, included the tenement building where the Wilson family lived. Since Evelyn, her brother and other members of the brood was a popular town subject, my father mentioned it at the kitchen table one night after supper, when I spoke of Evelyn’s latest antic.

Mincing no words, he let me know that I was not to make fun of anyone, and further stated that he never wanted to hear of me acting as if I was better than anyone else.

Of course, I resented the verbal lashing because, in my group, Evelyn was a source of fun and ridicule and the esteem of buddies meant more than a family edict.

It took me a long time to realize the value of my father’s words and the revelation of the kind of a person he was.

So, within this frenzied gabble for votes and support, should the Democrats prevail in November, it might be well to remember what such things as tolerance and respect really mean.


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