People talk to me. Like Mr. Mills in the seat next to me yesterday. We started with the fact that it was his 91st birthday. (He took as his due that Southwest Airlines gave him a bottle of Korbel Brut to help him celebrate :)). We progressed to me being an active & willing audience for his life stories. I wish I had taped our conversation. That would have been my present to me :).
Digression (you should be used to these by now :): I’m about 1/2 way through a great book ~ Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns. It chronicles the 20th-century odyssey of almost 6,000,000 black Americans out of the South to points north and west. Reading like an epic novel, Wilkerson’s book follows three black Americans from birth to old age, illuminating their reasons for leaving the South, their hard work to achieve success elsewhere, and the difficult choices that faced so many black Americans during the years between 1915 and 1970.
Mr. Mills might have been one of Wilkerson’s interview subjects. He left Texas to join the war, fighting in the Battle of the Bulge and elsewhere in the European theatre, he told me. “I have the service stars — five — to prove it,” he said proudly. And like many other black Americans, after fighting for European freedom, he wasn’t content to live under Jim Crow in Texas. So he headed to Chicago to work.
He got there hitching a ride: “One of my Daddy’s friends was a Pullman porter,” he said. “I went down to the yard to see him, and he let me go all the to California.”