Lorene Andris, Mother
When I Became Aware of Prejudice
by Lorene Andris
I never was aware that prejudice was a problem until I went to the new
Junior High School in 1926. I was in my science class. We sat three at
a bench and we shared the equipment, you know, the water faucet and the
sink and other things. There was this Braunly girl who was sitting with
Bus Curtis, who was a black boy, and the word got back to her father .
He called the teacher, Mr. Jones, (Wilbur) and said that he was to set
his daughter with white students. So Mr. Jones came back to me and said,
"Lorene, I'm going to have to move Braunley, and I wonder if you'd
mind trading seats with her."
"No, I don't mind."
"Now, that will mean that you will have to sit with Buster. But you
went to grade school with him, didn't you."
"Yes, I did. I don't mind sitting with Buster. We're friends."
"I didn't think you'd mind, because I could see that the two of you
talked to each other."
I never liked that Braunley girl after that. When I'd see her, I'd get
a funny feeling.
In 1929 or 1930, the high school team was supposed to have a victory dinner
at The Will-Mar Parkersburg, below the Mason-Dixon line. They had the
reservations already made. The team walked in, and when the waiter saw
Bus Curtis, he said, "He can't eat here!"
Kelly Mike, who was a Syrian boy, said, "You mean to tell me that
you've got a winning football team here, and you're not going to let this
"We can't, we've got orders, and it's against the law."
So the whole football team turned around and followed Kelly Mike out of
the restaurant. They came back to Marietta and ate at the old Leader Restaurant.
I always treated the black folks the same as the white when we were in
business. I'll never forget back in the '60s, I was waiting on old Mrs.
Carver. Some old rednecked guy, Jess Beaver, pushed his way past her to
the counter and said, "Here, wait on me."
I said, "No, you wait your turn. I'm waiting on Mrs. Carver now and
when I'm finished with her I'll wait on you."
He left in a huff. Mrs. Carver said, "Mrs. Andris, you shouldn't
have done that."
"Your money is just as good as his money."
"Do you know why I shop here?" Mrs. Carver continued.
"I suppose it's because we've got good prices."
"No, it's because you treat us colored folks fairly."
The next day, Jess Beaver came back in the store and said, "You drive
a hard bargain. But I guess you were right."