The West 80’s of the 1950s and 1960s, the West Side of my childhood, was home to many ethic and racial groups. But as we have written before, integration was unusual at best. Because of my last name, Marion, and its consistent mispronunciation no one was quite sure about me. When I came home after a summer at camp it was even more difficult.
Elizabeth, written about before, was easily made out as different. She was very very black. Bu was different too, he was Asian, specifically Korean. Bu was at PS9 because he was the child of a Korean diplomat. I recall him fitting in pretty well. I also recall him suddenly disappearing. He did not complete elementary school with us. As that war ended and before the next one began Bu’s father was recalled, or at least that is what we later called it. We never knew for sure. He just didn’t come to school anymore.
Experiences with Elizabeth and Bu were a part of my education about differences and sameness. So were Tony and Richie (also written about before) and so was Helen. There was more exposure in the junior high school years although we were still isolated in our special two and three year programs.
My father, writer and director, brought a lot of people into my life as well. Some were famous like Milton Cross (look him up) and others were broadly known as well, but special among these was Hector. He was blind but that didn’t seem to stop him in the eyes of the young Kenny.
A writer like my dad, Hector authored a book, “My Eyes Have A Cold Nose”. And that dog, the one I remember, was a boxer who would leave Hector with my dad and curl up under my bed.
Milton, Hector and other writers, conductors, photographers, composers, lyricists and more made up the collection of drinking buddies and professional collaborators that filled our apartment through the fifties and early sixties. Dad traveled with these people to make documentary films, a TV show called “Meet the Professor”, a radio show called “Meet the Small College” or something like that.
For that small college show we took a road trip through New England. I remember, most, counting Chevrolet Impalas, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of Impalas, over two weeks. I don’t remember any of the schools we stopped at or anything else about the trip.
I thought this life of artistics coming and going was ordinary, nothing special. I never bragged about my writer father. Looking back I realize how much I missed because I was so young when my dad was at his best.
*Graphic copyright colourbox