“My Mom Is A Visionary”

The year was 1977. January 1977 as a matter of fact. I was in elementary school. It was customary for my parents to keep me home from school in honor of Martin Luther King Junior’s birthday even though it had not yet been declared a national holiday.

My birthday is a week before MLKs birthday. This particular year I had received cash gifts and my cousin had spent the weekend helping me to celebrate. Since our parents let us stay home from school we decided to visit the local toy store to buy one of our favorite things, AFX slot cars. Neither one of us asked permission beforehand. Keep this in mind.

We knew EVERYTHING about AFX Racing sets. We knew every car they sold. At one point we owned just about every one they sold. I was pretty good at repairing them and customizing performance mods for them too. Wish I still had ’em…

It took about 45 minutes to walk to the store. As it was January the temperature was “coat and hat friendly”. We each had about $25 which was a real pocket-full of money for a couple of pre-teens in those days. We happily arrived at the store around 11 AM and anxiously explored the isles before heading to the slot car section. This is where the fun ended.

Upon arriving at the slot car display, which was a locked glass cabinet, we were greeted by a store employee who asked what we were doing. We explained that we wanted to buy some cars. She said she would be right back. After leaving us briefly she returned with a gentleman who turned out to be the owner. Turns out that the store employee said we looked “suspicious” and the owner arrived to ask us to leave. They asked us why we weren’t in school and we explained. He asked for our parents phone numbers and we willingly gave them to him. However, instead of calling our parents he called the police. He accused us of being truants, cursed at us and said we were probably trying to shoplift.

After some back and forth we left the store. Angry, hurt and extremely disappointed we made the long, cold walk back home without acquiring our beloved AFX G-Plus slot cars. Upon our return home we explained the encounter to our grandmother who never said a word nor displayed any emotion. That afternoon my mom got off from work and came to my grandmother’s to pick me up. That was not unusual. Shortly thereafter my aunt arrived. That was unusual. They began to talk. After a very brief and direct conversation between themselves my mom and aunt directed myself and my cousin to GET IN THE CAR! NOW!

Neither my cousin nor myself had any idea where we were going, had no idea what was about to happen. As the car started on a familiar route and the conversation between our mothers provided a few clues our destination became clear: the toy store. Were we in trouble? Did our mothers not believe us? What did the police say?

We found ourselves at the store once again, this time a little less enthusiastic. Our moms ushered us inside with, shall I say, some AUTHORITY! As a young woman my mother needed little motivation to uh, tell you what she thought…In other words, “cussin’ somebody’s ass out” was well within her capabilities. And my aunt? Let’s just say this. Take the ten toughest women, real or imagined, that you know. Add them all together and then piss them off. Say hello to my aunt. And NOW falsely accuse her son and nephew of shoplifting. This was gonna be a really bad effin’ day for somebody. I honestly began to feel sorry for the owner and his employee. But hey, they earned it! Oh, by the way, weapons MAY be found in my aunt’s car on occasion……..just sayin’.

I won’t scare you with the gory details, but let’s just say that the “interrogation” of the store owner and his employee had people running out of the store. I’m serious! This time our mothers called the police and “interrogated” THEM as well.

When it was all said and done we finally got our AFX slot cars. AND, courtesy of the store owner, we each got to keep our respective twenty five dollar “pockets-full of money”! In exchange for this the store owner, the employee and the police officer got lessons in “their stupid, prejudiced and ignorant assed selves”, black motherhood and most importantly Martin Luther King Jr. Our moms confirmed that they allowed us off from school as part of a larger petition to recognize Dr. King’s birthday, but had not given permission for us to come to the store. As a result they made us read an entire ENCYCLOPEDIA and write one page reports about Dr. King for the rest of the day. “DO NOT TOUCH THAT RACE TRACK UNTIL WE SAY YOU CAN”! Awwww maaannnn! Shoot!

Obviously I didn’t realize it at the time, but my mom was teaching me to be proactive and self reliant as it pertained to learning Black History. She introduced me to many more important figures in Black history over the years. The lessons always included reading books and writing reports but never included AFX cars……

Dr. King’s birthday finally did become a nationally recognized holiday some ten years or so after this event. Kudos mom for having the vision to know it was the right thing for the country to do and for allowing me to be a part of it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s