Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Remembering a Paper Route, Forgetting Human Dignity

When I was 11 years old, I had a paper route. It started near my house, and continued down Baldwin Avenue in Arcadia, right across the street from what was then the practice track for Santa Anita racetrack. The first paper I delivered was the day Robert Kennedy was shot - June 5, 1968. I will never forget that.

I will also never forget what my Dad, a World War II Pacific Theater veteran, used to tell me as we drove past Santa Anita when I was a kid. "That was where they used to keep the Japs penned up during the War", he would say as we drove past the stable, just off Baldwin Avenue. I remember the feeling of being glad we "penned them up", during the War. They were scary savages, according to Dad, and he never really had much good to say about any "minority" as I grew up. I feel like I have spent the rest of my life overcoming my Father's biases.

For several years I would peddle my bike past the past the practice track, and sometimes think about all those Japanese people, locked up there, some 25 years earlier. What did that feel like for them?

Here is a glimpse of what it felt like.....

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