a reading of these pieces, visit the Multimedia
In June 1957, at my childhood's frothy peak, Mama and I took the Chief
from Lamy, New Mexico, to Los An-geles. A porter brought our luggage
to the day coach. "Thank you, George," said Mama, dropping a dime
into his startling pink palm.
Arizona flowed effortlessly past the white linen table-cloth as I
ate famous train oatmeal from a silver-plated bowl placed before me
by a large black man wearing a white uniform and a white smile. Mama
called him George.
When the desert stopped and houses got closer together, Mama and I
sat up, put on our hats, pulled on our white gloves, closed our cosmetic
cases and set them on our laps, and sat there until the train pulled
into Union Station three hours later. We had not known there were
so many people in the world. A porter helped us down off the train.
"Thank you, George," said Mama and gave him a dime.
Mama and I sat down on curly metal chairs in a cafe right in the middle
of lofty Union Station. I was allowed to take off my white gloves
and eat a piece of chocolate chiffon pie. A dainty gentleman announced
that he just had to come over and tell us that I was the most well
behaved child he had ever seen. It was the happiest