Bob and Elnora
The first black people I ever met were Bob and Elnora Jackson. They were wonderful people. They picked peaches for us one summer. Dad let them live in a small portion of our barn for the picking season. I spent several days sitting at their makeshift table watching Elnora can peaches. It smelled so good. She let me “test” every batch. I remember the rows of canned peaches lined up on the table. Until I met them the only black people I’d ever seen were on Disney movies or Shirley Temple films. I remember Elnora was heavy and wore a bun in her hair and Bob was short looking a lot like the character “Uncle Remus.”
I found my little black baby doll and showed it to Elnora. She smiled and cradled it as if were her child. I had made the comment that I’d never seen a black person before, how beautiful Elnora's skin was, and how funny Bob’s curly little beard was. I was a little girl and it was an innocent observation. I remember Bob holding my hand in one of his and Elnora’s hand in the other. He made a comment something like, “See, we are all different and God loves us all.” With great care and gentleness Bob began telling me a story about how no two people are alike inside or outside. Even he and his wife were different colors of black.
We sat just inside the barn watching the other workers in the yard. Bob pointed out all the different colors the people were. There was one very sun-burned kid chasing a chicken. Bob laughed and said in all his life he’d never seen another person as red as that kid. He laughed in his deep voice, a long loud laugh, making me giggle.
Later when I told mom about our conversation she was afraid I’d hurt their feelings but when she spoke to them they assured her my comment was taken kindly and they were sure I had said what I did in innocence. Elnora paid mom for the peaches by helping put wallpaper up in my bedroom. It was yellow daisy wallpaper. I had that wallpaper for years. It always reminded me of my wonderful summer with Bob and Elnora.