a day in the life...
A kitchen memory.
April 4th 1968, I don't remember if it was raining or sunny that day. My father took me to a Detroit trucking company to visit some of his friends.
There was a commotion on the loading docks which was very confusing for me, a little kid at the time. Some men were cursing, some were jubilant, i heard one man shout "The King is dead, long live the king..." and I thought that I heard some men laughing. I recognized that phrase from school and wondered if they were reading something familiar to me? My father was a Detroit Fire Fighter and my dad was dressed in his work blues. Other men were in suits and some were in working clothes taking care of business but stopping for a moment to make a comment on something that I didn't understand. The place was full of noise, dust, 18 wheeler semi-trucks, steel rails, cranes, and i got the feeling that something terrible was also going on, but I didn't know what it was. I asked my dad "what's wrong? what's going on here...?" My dad picked me up and we left the trucking company in a hurry. On the way home, I asked my dad to explain but he just told me to shut up. I thought I did something wrong again. As we entered our home on Trenton and McGraw, my mom ran to my dad saying "did you hear? did you hear...?" My mom NEVER ran to my dad, or not ever in front of me. I wondered if Babci died, or maybe Grampa? They were both old and that would have made sense to me, but mom wasn't really crying. She appeared to be worried. Dinner was ready and on the table, but mom and dad were in the living room watching the TV news. They scolded me and my sisters to stay at the table. My older sister Karen always knew what was going on so she said something like "somebody on TV got killed today..." and there was a very uneasy quietness in the kitchen.
I'm not actually sure if it was that day or the following day, but it was an event that I had to put together myself to understand what all that had happened. St. Lawrence Elementary School in Detroit never spoke of Martin Luther King jr. I never heard of him until my years at Chadsey High School.
It took many years after that for me to figure out that my dad didn't whisk me away from the news report of Martin Luther King jr's murder, but rather he took me away from those people on the loading dock at the trucking company because he never took me there ever again.