The Hood

I grew up in the burbs of San Francisco. This neighborhood was mainly comprised of everything and everyone. All colors, all religions an array of personalities and vast cultural experiences for the taking. Mainly what it had was dysfunctional families, up one street down the next. Secrets, lies, and cover-ups were to be found in nearly every home.

The past carries for me a lot of shame as to who I was then, and who and what my parents were. I tried all my life to break these barriers presented me as a child, I like to think I have succeeded in this endeavor raising my children without prejudices and with lot's of love that I lacked as a child.

No matter what my past was, I have the sense to know now I was given everything in my life bad and good as tools to learn and grow. I can see clearly today everything I experienced was nothing other than the blessing of growth and wisdom.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Smell of Beer

It was 3:30 when I walked through the front door from school. Mom was still asleep on the couch and beer cans were still on the coffee table, the house reeked of beer. I reached for the air freshener and sprayed all around the whole house. My sister Bonnie came through the door minutes after me, heading straight for our bedroom throwing her books on her bed she then headed for the kitchen where I was standing with the air freshener.

We had 30 minutes to race and get all the cleaning up done, ridding the house of all my mother's empty beer cans before my dad got home, presenting a spotless house on his arrival. As usual, we kicked into gear without a word. Bonnie grabbed a large paper grocery bag from under the sink that I stood in front of ready to wash the dishes my mother didn't wash during the day. Bonnie quickly headed for the front room without waking my mother. We didn't dare wake her because the longer she slept the soberer she would be when my dad got home, thus making a more peaceful evening. Bonnie quietly picked up all the empty beer cans off the coffee table and headed for the back door as I got busy washing up all the dishes and wiping down the table and sweeping the floor.

When my mother and father met right before the end of the war, my father was just about finished with his navy duties when he would come into town on leave, together they would go out to the famous nightclubs on Geary Street in San Francisco and party until the places closed. They would be joined by my momother'srother, his wife and some new friends they made. Together they would listen to big band music and drink highballs until the party was over and time to go home, it was all a part of the celebration at their ages.

After the war, my father married my mother taking on two children of hers from a previous marriage. Then soon afterward my sister Candy was born. After countless nights of partying with the neighbors and waking up to people sleeping on the floor, beer cans all over the house and my mother drunk beyond belief, with young children making their own breakfast, my father woke up one morning and said loudly "THIS IS ENOUGH!". He kicked the neighbors out, woke my mother up to take care of the new baby girl who was being watched by my older brother and sister and proclaimed his new rules. He'd had enough of drunken nights and the feeling of doing wrong by his children and loudly told her "NO MORE DRINKING, THAT'S IT! No more booze was allowed in this house ever again after that morning.

From that moment on my father stuck to his words, he never touched another drink the rest of his life or smoked again, nor would he ever even be in the presence of anyone that did, but my mother was unable to live up to his standards.

Bonnie made the climb over our neighbor 6" chain link fence on her way to empty the day's beer cans that lingered in our house. A deal was made with my mother and the neighbor allowing her to dump the remains of her drinking in exchange for cash they always needed. I dried the freshly washed dishes then put them away, Bonnie and I took turns vacuuming each day. Laundry needed to be put away and now since the house was clean mother needed to wake up to start dinner and once again be a normal happy family.

The sheer panic I always felt when walking home from school not knowing what was to be expected, became second nature to me and my sisters. We together assumed the responsibility not knowing when this all came about. Was it an unconscious action on our part not wanting any trouble with my father seeing my mother drunk, or if at some point we were told to do my mothers work. It was never clear to me until this day, nor did I know that our family was so different than the others around us. It was never talked about.

I can still recall at least two occasions when my father found beer cans and this lead to a brutal fight with my mother who was turned over the kitchen sink where my father bitterly screaming at her. She was crying while he proceeded to pop open the cans and pour them one after another over her head while yelling at her. Those were the times I wished he were dead and wrote: "I hate my father" on my pillow case with ink one morning during one of these fights, as I remember well this was my first introduction to God during these times.

Despite the risk of it all, my mother still found a way to hide her beers by keeping them in my top dresser underwear's drawer, slipping one of my t-shirts over the popped top or a sock to cover it and keep it hidden from my father. This is why she would occasional come into my room and take sips throughout the night with my father unaware or wondering why she keeps going in our room and closing the door throughout the night, every night! I hated the smell of beer, most of all going too school and smelling it while in class I always worrying if others around me could smell it as well. Most of my childhood memories were mixed with this as a constant routine.

This went on for years or more until she grew sick and continually complained of back aches, then we started noticing her stomaching growing as if she were pregnant. It wasn't until I was 15 and my older sister Candy who was already divorced with 2 small children living back at home, attending to my mother while she was ill, Bonnie had since moved out living with the father of her child. When my sister Candy called me into the bathroom and asked me to help bathe my mother because she was not feeling well, then I got a glimpse of what was happening to her, seeing her that size stomach on a woman who all her life had a nice slim body was shocking to me.

Her body has wasted away, her stomach was the size of a watermelon and she couldn't have weighed any more than 90 pounds. I was sick seeing her body looking like a starved African child she had once used as an example scolding me for not eating my food because there were people who would kill to have the food I had. Here she was looking like a photo of the one's she used as in national geography as an example to bribe me from some third world country. Days later my Father's denial after all these years must have turned around and for once he saw some reality, and between he and my sister they called an ambulance and had her put in the hospital. I was only told to leave the house while they take her away, so I went to a friends house and never discussed it with anyone never knowing fully what was going on, no one ever sat me down and explained.

This was also a time I learned about intuition, it was my first introduction to seeing into the future which has been rare for me but when I do, I always remember my first experience with my mother.

While my mother was in the hospital, she had been there for about a month or more, my father received a phone call of urgency one day after work, so he and my sister Candy left me at home to babysit her two young daughters as they went to say their goodbyes to her.  I had asked the young girl next door named Janie to come over and help me because it didn't look good from what Candy had said to me before she left with my dad, "Momma may not make it through the night she slipped into a Colma," I remained calm because I had no emotion at this point about my mothers dying I didn't know what to make of it all, all I knew was it wasn't fair that I didn't get to go and say my goodbyes to her rather she heard me or not, it just didn't feel right to me deep inside. Janie would help me because I didn't feel much like watching any kids.

I stayed home and Janie put my nieces to bed, afterward, she came in the front room where I was standing, staring out the window on the front door. She put her arm on my shoulder seeing me gazing out the window she felt the pain I was going through, as I looked out the front room door window, I saw something amazing, what I saw was a plain as day, it was a digital number reading like that of a clock radio that read in bright orange letters (SAT 7:00 AM). As I starred it not knowing what it was or where it was coming from it hit me inside, and I was excited! I shouted to Janie, "My Mother is not going to die today on Wednesday, but instead she won't die until Saturday at 7:00 in the morning. I said this as I turned to my friend Janie only to see a very concerned look on her face, but I knew I was right and I was certain of it, no one could tell me any different, it was locked into me because it was inside me too, that firm knowledge that was just there it was true and I knew it.

My Father kept a vigilant post at the hospital every day and night, coming home only when it was late and he went straight to bed. He carried on every day being the best husband he could possibly be, yet the whole time they were married he never in all those years gave her that much attention, even in combined years and years and years of marriage it wasn't until she was in a coma and dying did he realize his mate was leaving him and she probably need him long time ago and his ignoring her hastened her misery and death...

He was by her side as Candy and I waited for his call fully knowing it was coming at any time, except me, I knew it wasn't coming until Sat at 7:00 in the morning. Then like clockwork at 7:03 Saturday morning the phone rang.  Candy and I standing near the phone, she picked it up and she said to me in a whisper tone holding her hand over the mouthpiece of the phone "Mommy just died at 7:00". At such a horrific time I had such a wonderful feeling inside knowing it played out just exactly as I was shown it would with the passing of my mother, needless to say, I was very mixed up at the time.

But one thing I did know is something out there knew more than me and it told me and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt of the time of her passing. What I was clearly right before my eyes shown turned out to be the catalyst of my discovering my psychic ability inside. Developing faith in the unknown and knowing there was something out there that very subtlety showed me and prepared me back then when I needed it more and many times since. it was a big tease to entice me in understanding more of this gift. it all comes down to connecting with source and exhibiting faith in the source is how you grow it inside you. Your connections get made, you start to blend the metaphysical with the physical, so your body actually responds in unison each person is probably different and perhaps each incident is different. For me, in this case, my eyes actually saw the numbers and the date on the window like as if it were a reflection intangible but, in perfect vision to my eyes coupled with a sure feeling inside that was just pure knowledge I KNEW it was going to be that date and time she would die. Nothing could have convinced me otherwise.

Her diagnoses was "Cirrhosis of the Liver" with " Chronic Emphysema" all caused by drinking, smoking and not eating properly. After her death I went home and started the usual of cleaning the house, now it was my turn to start cooking and caring for my father who didn't even know I had been secretly doing it since I was a child to help my mom out, I was an adult child already being prepared to take care of other, which was also inline with my life calling I do believe.

Years had passed by, I never forgot this time of my life the loss of my mother at such a young age, and how it played a major role in my life in all things.

When I was later married and with children of my own, I became frantic about certain things, never wanting my children to experience the childhood I had. In some ways I tried to be the perfect mother to them, making cookies for them when they came home from school, and always having the house spotless upon their arrival. Most of all I made sure their underwears were always good smelling, for some reason that was super important to me and seeing to it they had nice undergarments, socks, shoes and clothes perfectly ironed and folded.

"Everyday was a day they may remember!" This was something I told myself daily. Something good needed to be done in case they picked "THIS DAY" to remember for the rest of their life, and my life was consumed with this until they grew and left the home one by one.

Now looking back with regrets and coming to terms with my mother's alcoholism and my father's role, both being from different eras, I can now lift my head high and say I did my best! And knowing had I not been raised in such a home, the turnout may not have been so crystal clear to me on how I was to raise my children and be the type of person I wanted to be. Perhaps making me more grateful for all I had gone through despite it all because I was allowed to raise my children better, thus replacing their pleasant memories for my unhappy ones.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Peanut Butter and Rags

My Father was always intolerant with people of color, but I was starting to see my mother was just as intolerant as he in her own ways.

One day in particular I came home to find her in her usual spot of the afternoon asleep on the sofa, sobering up before my dad got home. She was either taking a nap, watching TV or reading the magazine she liked when I would come home from schools. Her favorite magazines were Family Circle or McCall, but Hints from Heloise was her favorite part as she glanced over the pages, often reading to one of us kids the latest nifty new remedy or solution out of the; Heloise Hit’s section. One of Heloise hints she just had to try was using peanut butter on the coffee table to polish it.

Every weekend we would be busy cleaning the house perfectly because my father was home, so this was the only time I actually saw my mother quite busy with house work duties, giving my father the illusion that this was the normal way her day went. Every Saturday we would polish the maple and walnut furniture around the house. This one Saturday she decided to try out the new Hint from Heloise which was a strange one to us all, but smelled good to us kids.

The new hint was to take ”regular creamy, not nutty; Peanut butter” and use it instead of furniture polish on all your wood furniture! Heloise claimed it worked better then the expensive polishes in the store. So mother on her last visit to the grocery store bought two jars of peanut butter. One of the cheap brands, for the polishing she would have us try out, and the other more expensive brand for us to use in making our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. One jar went straight into the cupboards where all the canned good were stored, and the other went on the top shelf of the kitchen sink cupboard.

This Saturday she was anxious for us to try out this new hint she read about in Heloise. I was given the honor to try out this new discovery for the first time in our home. So I opened the jar and she gave me some old rag for spreading it around. It smelled good as I rubbed the goo all over the table then wiping up the excess with the rag and folding it over, then in circular motions I would go to town rubbing away all the excess peanut butter to make a high gloss polish on the front room coffee table.

It worked and my mother was proud her little hint was successful, not to mention the smell was by far much better than that of the chemical polish sprays of that time. This would continue on every Saturday mid morning for quite some time, then after each use the rag was stuffed back into the big jar and put back up on the shelf and once the chores were complete I could go outside and play.

Next door to us was an Indian family that had a house full of kids with a single mom that left them with barely anything to eat and to fend on their own. The mother was somewhat of a lose woman, always bringing home different men to spend the night. She was probably looking for a husband to help support her and her children, but rumors were going around the neighborhood that she was a part time prostitute going out and meeting men from the navy who had just come into town on a ship.

None of them seemed to stay long, in fact most left and never came back after the first night. The house was always untidy and unclean with sticky stuff on the floor at all times. The kids were always dirty and had a bad odor to them, and just looking at their hair you could easily see they hadn’t had a bath in awhile. Their ages ranged from 1 year to 12 years, one for every few years. Out of all of them there was only one boy, all the rest were girls.

I was young, and when you’re young none of that nonsense bothers you about them not being clean except one time when I saw “Cindy” (one of the girls that was my age) put her dirty long fingernail in her mouth to clean it, scraping it along her teeth as she licked away all the dirt embedded within them. That about made me want to vomit, for some reason that has stuck with me to this day, as I myself am absolutely intolerant of any dirt under my own nails since witnessing that, it’s just something that stuck with me and made impact on me.

Cindy had a younger sister named “Linda” her and I used to joke about our names being the same and how all Linda’s were beautiful because that’s what the name meant in Spanish. She and I were more friends than Cindy and I were, we just got along better and we seemed to laugh more together than Cindy and I ever did.

One afternoon Linda came over tapped on our screen door and asked my Mother if she could borrow some peanut butter, my mother quickly replied "sure hold on!" I was in the kitchen at the table making a peanut butter sandwich so I screwed the lid on and went to hand it over to my mother having heard the conversation at the door. I turned around to hand it to my mother when she looked over at me shook her head silently back and forth, then smiled and said “No not that one!” She then reached up and grabbed the one we used to polish the furniture with, quickly opening the lid and taking out the rags tucked down within the jar, closing it back up, then headed straight for the front door and handed it to Linda with a smile, and said “here you go!” I was astonished and mortified! She used that disgusting one we used to polish the dirty furniture with and the one that had an old rag in it to feed these poor kids next-door.

I felt so ashamed and sorry for them, and so mad deep inside towards my mother and father and how sometimes they were just crappy to people and treated some people so badly, it was embarrassing to me and I felt gutted. Not so much just because she was a friend, but because she was a person and their family was poor and I knew the kids didn't have a lot to eat most of the time.

We would always see programs on TV about the "Starving African Children" and that was used against us to make us eat our food, it wasn’t used because the had sympathy for these people nor was it used to make us appreciative of what we had when others were less fortunate than us in this world either. It was used because they were heartless people forgetting the hard times they had experienced through in the depression era, they just wanted us to finish our dinner faster.

I went to my room and thought this all over sulking in my own way but hiding the thoughts that went throught my mind in shock over what she just did. I called these people friends and enjoyed playing and talking with, walking to the candy story, eating pickles from the deli on a summer days, talking about toys and just hanging out and making clubs in the garage. I was feeling some hatred towards my parents because they were such merciless intolerant bigots before I knew this word existed. All I thought about was how they judged people and were ever so wrong about all the crap they used to try and sell me on.

In my own way I tried to prove them wrong, without me shouting it back in their face. It was my secret not theirs and sometimes they proved themselves wrong while I did nothing but sit back and laugh as they made their judgments and comments about others in the neighborhood.

I recall thinking “what’s wrong with them?" “Why are they like this?" I was always the odd ball, worrying about innocent people, which seemed to come easy for me thanks to the fine examples my parents set for me. What fine examples of bigots they were at times, only fueling my questions and observation to be called upon at later dates.

There were poor people amongst us in our neighborhood, mostly comprised of single mother's, not having the fathers income coupled with women’s wages being lower than that of a men back then, often times this alone was the cause of their poverty, just too many mouths to feed and not enough to make ends meet which left some hungry children at school during lunch time or after school let out.

Ricky Johnson was one of these kids; I will never forget the look on his face at lunch time one afternoon. I recall one day in the cafeteria 12 noon all the kids gathered to eat the lunches their moms had made. Brown paper bags lay on the table and some lunch box's with cartoons on them, thermoses poring special Kool-Aid or juices into their thermos cup lids. The smells of cheese, lettuce, white bread and potato chips could be smelled outside the building. Everyone was busy eating and enjoying their food when I looked over to the side of me and there was Ricky's big eyes looking at my food as I took a bite. He shyly looked away but soon was drawn back to my food with mouth hanging open and licking his lips as he tasted my sandwich visually. He just couldn't seem to take his eyes off my food, over and over he would glance at me eating and then quickly look away.

He was pretending to play and too busy to eat, but the truth was he didn't have anything to eat! I remember that feeling of him looking at me and me doing nothing. Here I was overweight and within the cupboards of our home was enough food to feed all his siblings. Our cupboards were always full along with the fridge and freezer, just chock full of food of every kind, and he had nothing to eat! To this day that look in his eyes still affects me I can see it right now or whenever I need to be reminded of it.

Ricky changed my life that day.

Ricky's family was comprised of 5 kids and one Mother working her tail off to support them after the father left one day following one of his drunken binges. Mrs. Johnson was a tall Black woman with a large body frame. She had a very kind face and always a sweet smile dispite her troubles and worries in life. I used to watched her walk up that hill every day rushing home from work after being on her feet all day at the hospital, with her white nurses’ uniform on and a purple sweater, walking up that hill with long very quick strides.

Her one son Ricky Johnson was my age and been in my school and classes for years since kindergarten. Ricky was the poorest kid in class, all the kids made fun of him, especially the other black kids that came from proper home and dressed even better then some of us white folks. Ricky was made fun of every day, but he was always nice, never speaking back to any of the comments thrown at him. His big black eyes bugged out of his football shaped head with short nappy hair and pieces of lint stuck to it, and most times snot crusted on his upper lip and wearing clothes with missing buttons, made him an easy target for other kids to make fun of.

I remember one day in particular when he was laughed and pointed at by all the class except me. I was in shock because that was something I have never seen before in an actual classroom. Everyone knew he was poor, but this time someone said it out loud in class most his ridiculed was done on the playground where he could easily escape it, but this time he couldn't. I remember being confused by and shocked with the teacher listening and laughing along and not saying anything in his defence but behaving like one of the brat kids. Something was wrong I could see it in his eyes.

He had lifted his leg up to cross his legs with one foot shooting straight across on his knee. He thought nothing of it, just getting comfortable in class when all of the sudden, Fred another black kid in my class that was from a very well off black family, looked at Ricky's shoes and started laughing an obnoxious laugh while pointing thus erupting the whole classroom and teacher in laughter.

What was visible to the eye was a shoe with a huge hole in the bottom and the "Corn Flake Rooster" showing through the hole. Fred laughed and laughed pointing until Ricky's face turned dark purple with embarrassment. Fred was on the floor and the class followed suit even the teacher laughed. I saw Ricky's face and the shame he was feeling, I knew he couldn't help it.

“Skillet” was the nick name Fred gave him and Ricky hung his head whenever Fred called it out to him. "Hey Skillet" Fred would shout in front of everyone, "Did you eat your corn flakes today?" Laughter would always ensue because everyone saw the hole in Ricky’s shoe he had patched up with an empty box of Corn Flakes that day and no one would let him forget. Fred had a hatred for poor blacks that represented him in a white man's world, but Ricky didn't know anything other than poorness and hunger. Unlike Fred whose parents had good jobs and nice things, dressed nice and had a beautiful home.

Later that same summer after my mother gave the poor kids next door the dirty peanut butter, Ricky came over to my house when my mother wasn't there; he was probably more hungry then I could comprehend at that age. He too knocked on the screen knowing it,s day time and my father wasn't there or he wouldn't have made it up the stairs, with his rich chocolate Skin and dusty looking hair. I answered the door and said “Yea Ricky what's up?: He said humbly "Do you have any peanut butter I could borrow." Remembering what my Mother did a few weeks before when asked that same question, and fully aware that the power was in my hands, because she wasn't there to dictate the outcome. I said to him “Hold on,” then walked to the kitchen opened the cabinet and reached up and pulled the Crunchy Skippy out and walked into the front room opened the screen and said, "Here you can have it we have another one" He smiled and said “Thank you!”

I was a rebel from way back wanting a change in the way things were done from the old. This was my little way of making up for Ricky staring at my sandwich and Linda from next door getting the Peanut butter with the rag, and never being able to react. My mother later on that week needed to buy more peanut butter because as she put it us kids made pigs of ourselves and ate the whole jar too quickly.

I softly smiled inside like I have done before when seeing my parents make fools of themselves and having that feeling inside that comes from doing something so opposite of what you are taught when you know what you were taught was wrong. Little did they know that their teaching me to hate others of color and difference was going to actually do the opposite and make me colorblind, and who ever knew Peanut Butter could taste so good.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Old Mr Chang

Old Mr. Chang

It seems to me that songs from my childhood all have locked in memories. I can remember the weather, where I was when I heard the song or who I was with and the smells all around me. There is always some sort of memory that seems to be attached to each and every song growing up; many memories have remained until this day. This one particular song whenever I hear it, it takes me back to that one day when the lyrics of this particular song changed forever in my mind and created for me a video before video were ever made.

That day was a summer day just before school let out for vacation. A few of us kids from Robinson junior high school decided to walk to the usual place everyone went to get a hard roll sandwich and a pickle for lunch. I remember this day being hot as we walked to the store. The heat had me dying of thirst, but back then that meant dying for a coke or a soda of some sort, never water.

The store was owned by a very old, untrusting, cranky, Chinese man named Mr. Chang. My memory of him was he didn't speak much English, but he knew enough to yell at you when he needed and sometimes when it wasn't needed. Plus whenever he did speak a stench of rancid cabbage bellowed out from between his yellow tea stained teeth like fire from a dragon’s mouth, so it was always better when he didn't talk that way you didn't have to smell his bad breath and try to figure out what the hell he was saying to you.

I don't remember any relatives of his, I don't know if I went to school with any of his children or grandchildren, nor did I know anything about him other then he owned a little neighborhood store he lived above and that’s where I would buy my candy or a dill pickle out of a barrel.

He kept to himself, probably due to his lack of command of the English language or the experiences a Chinese man when through living in America during his era. Mainly most of the Chinese families in our neighborhood that I knew, kept to themselves. They preserved their culture by non participation in American culture. Which now is to be admired unlike back then, we never gave it a second thought or at least I didn’t. But I did question from time to time why none of the Chinese children were ever outside playing with us and why we were never ever allowed in their homes, not even for one second.

Mr. Chang had age spots on his face and walked around in slippers all the time. I remember him scuffing in his slippers around the store, always dragging his feet just scuffing back and forth making the same sound sandpaper makes as it scrubs back and forth on wood. Lord knows how old he really was. The fact that he didn't bother to bend his knees when he walked and the way he looked told me had to be at least 100 years old, but back then at my age everyone looked old, if you weren't young like me, you were old.

He was nearly all bald except for a few long hairs he slicked back over the top of his golden colored skull and my memory of him is always wearing a worn out checkered shirt with a navy blue sweater vest with a pair of dark grey slacks with his slippers. He never trusted anyone that I recall, he was always afraid someone was going to steal something from him. So needless to say he was a bit more on his guard when 5 of us kids loudly entered into his store wanting candy, pickles, sodas and sandwiches all at once. This must have been overload and heart attack time for him.

Usually he stood behind his counter and waited until you spoke to him. Never a “Hello” or “how are you” can I ever recall hearing from him, but back then he was the candy man and I didn't care about the greetings. He waited for you to make your selection and quickly leave his store, his body language did not encourage friendship or petty conversations, just BUY & LEAVE!

He had all the candy behind his counter where it was safe, so if anyone wanted any, they would have to request which one they wanted. Sometimes he would let you come in back of the counter with him to look and make your decisions on which ones you wanted. Sometimes if you already knew you would just tell him, “hey give me a box of Chocolate babies and some neccos, a cherry charm sucker, 5 pieces of bubble gum” or whatever which ones you desired. He would then reach over retrieve your candy then plop it on the counter uttering the amount owed in his thick Chinese accent that sometimes resembled Elmer Fud. “Fiddy tence puezzz" or "rank roo" after we gave him our money!”

On this one day, it was Christina Ponce, Fred Williams, Neil Veavea, Clifford Bevels and I. The boys were having fun as most males would in the company of girls, trying hard to impress us, so they were acting up more tthanusual and competing for the alpha male position.

This one particular day Mr. Chang was way more nervous than usual, probably due to the fact that he had the Mod Squad and backup in his store, all at one time. There were, two black teen boys, one massive male Samoan, a Mexican and a white female. All teenagers full of energy ready to rob him blind and kill him I'm sure he thought. To this nearly 100 year old ancient Chinese man; this was a disastrous combination just waiting for some trouble to erupt. He was nervous and snippety with the boys; they took full advantage of their male instinct sensing his fear they teased Mr. Chang more than they would have, had they been there alone.

Clifford Bevels begged Mr.Chang to allow him to come behind the counter to pick out a candy of his choice, like he had done to me nearly every single day of my young life. Mr. Chang was not having it at all. Clifford begged, Clifford pleated, but Mr.Chang repeated NO NO NO! Once again Clifford moaned “C’mon Mr. Chang let me look so I can see what candy I want” But Mr.Chang ignored him as he kept a careful, watchful eye on all of us and where our hands were at all times.

Fred Williams was laughing so hard, but at the same time he was teasing Clifford and egging him on. Fred provide the moral back up courage for Clifford while the rest of us were Cliffords cheerleaders. We all were laughing by this time because it was so obvious Mr.Chang was scared. I never seen him like this and it seem to all of us like he thought he was going to be robbed by these black teen boys or gang of teens in his store, just like in the movies I'm sure he watched on TV. He was nearly at the point of kicking all of us out of the store, you could see his fury in the tiny slots of his eyes and his facial expressions.   Fred Williams was all the while in the background yucking it up and the rest of us looking on in disbelief on his stance to not better serve us by allowing Clifford a chance to go behind the counter and pick what he wanted to buy.

Mr.Chang was as ready as Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid, ready to whip out some martial arts moves on us all. Clifford begged one last time. “C’MON CHANG, LET ME LOOK MAN, C’MON FOOL let me just look once real quick man!” Fred was bellowing laughter, snorting and bending over laughing upon hearing Clifford calling Mr. Chang a Fool. “NO!” Mr. Chang shouted back “NO NO NO!” That’s when Clifford busted out in a song that had us all laughing and too this day
Chang’s a Fool
Chang Chang Chang
Chang’s a fool
Chang Chang Chang ya ya ya ya yang
Chang’s a fool

I can not hear the original version “Chain of Fools" sung by Aretha Franklin without thinking back to this day, the day this song was re-written and sung by Clifford Bevels especially for Mr. Chang.