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159 Part 7: Fiction Country Club Paris Smith I mean to tell you about a particularly odd occurrence which happened one summer day in July when I was eleven years old. I don't know what has stirred up the memory for me half a century later. But lately, I find myself reflecting more on my bygone boyhood days. They say that happens when one starts moving through middle age into old age. Anyway, from this event, that transpired many years ago, I learned something more at the time about the ugliness that festered in the world. And the way the incident went down was very subtle and caught me totally unawares. On some Saturday mornings I had a job where I rode along on Mr. Minelli's fruit and vegetable truck and helped with the deliveries. Got paid five bucks each day, which seemed like a nice piece of money to me back in 1959. My father set me up with the job. Mr. Minelli delivered produce to the Downtown hotel where my dad made his living as a waiter, and they'd gotten to be friends. I guess you could say the delivery work was kind of hard on me. Those sacks of rice and potatoes could get pretty heavy. But I had a cart to use, and most times there was another boy on the truck to help out. On this particular day Micah Lieberman worked with me. He was a couple of years older than me, and bigger. Had dark, curly hair and seemed to be smiling all the time. He lived several blocks from where I stayed. We saw each other mostly at school, but we weren't really close friends. I knew he had an older brother named Jacob. Anyway, the Saturday morning in question started out routinely. Warm, damp air settled like a wispy fog over everything. I showed up 160 at the store a few minutes before my seven o'clock starting time. Mr. Minelli was standing next to his red truck making notations in his important black book. He was a small, stringy man with hairy forearms and a balding crown, deep blue eyes glistened like costume jewels. He smiled when he saw me strolling up to the truck. I thought he was a very nice man, and so did my father. “Joe Minelli is a good guy,” my dad had told me. “He'll treat you fair and look out for you.” I think my father had some other kind of side business going with Mr. Minelli, and I'm pretty sure it had something to do with the funny smelling green stuff my parents liked to roll up in cigarette paper and smoke together on the weekends. “You and Micah can finish loading the truck,” Mr. Minelli instructed. I nodded and climbed up on the little dock where several sacks and baskets full of produce were sitting at the back of the truck. I didn't see Micah, so I started the loading by myself. But just then Micah showed up. He was wearing a White Sox baseball cap and patched blue jeans. T-shirt looked kind of dirty. “I'm not late,” he said to me, jovially. “You're early.” Mr. Minelli came and let us know to “Put on three sacks of pecans for the Piedmonts.” “Sox will win the pennant this year,” Micah said as we loaded the truck. “Billy Pierce and Early Wynn are the best pitchers in the American League.” “You betting on it?” I asked. “Yeah. If I can get somebody to bet against me.” “Well, it can't be me because I think the Sox will win it, too.” “Huh. I know if my brother, Jacob, was here he'd bet against me. He thinks the Yankees can't be beat. And everybody knows they're out of it this year. He'd figure they were going to come from behind and win it all.” “Where's your brother? I haven't seen him for a long time.” Micah glanced around nervously and lowered his voice. “He's in Mississippi working with a freedom fighter organization. They're doing sit-ins on buses, and at lunch counters like in Woolworth's. 161 They're trying to help your people so they don't keep on being treated bad.” I knew what Micah was talking about. I'd seen things on the TV news and heard my parents and their friends discussing what...


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MARC Record
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