Johnny was finally happy.
His mother had brought him all the way from Iowa to live near his daddy.
They were going to stay here as long as Daddy had to. His daddy stayed at
the army camp all day, but came home every evening and played with him. In
the daytime, he played with the little boy who lived in the other part of
the house. It had been sorta cold to play outside at home, but down here
in the south it was nice and warm. He was going to like it here. He hoped
his daddy would be here for a long time!
Johnny was sitting on the
steps waiting for his mother. She was going to take him down town. He
always liked to go to town, cause he liked to ride on the big bus. She
came out now and together they walked to the bus stop. Johnny skipped part
of the way. He had on his new shoes.
"Give me my nickle,
Mommy. I want to put it in the slot."
"These busses might not be like the ones at home,
Johnny. You'd better let me put in the money today."
"You could show me how, couldn't you?"
"Not this time."
"Oh, I guess so. The bus shouldn't be
"Here comes a bus, Mommy. Is that
"How'd you know? Did you ask Daddy?"
"No. The land-lady told me."
"Who's the land-lady?"
"Oh, Johnny, just forget it. Let the lady
get on first."
The elderly lady climbed into the bus and took a
front seat. Not Johnny. After spending an impressive amount of time
putting his nickle in the slot, he rushed to the back as usual. Johnny
always rode on the back seat. It bounced so much better.
"No, no Johnny. You can't sit in the back
seat. Come up here with me."
"But why, Mommy? There's lots of
"Johnny, come up here with me."
Johnny reluctantly moved back up toward the front
of the bus, and sat with his mother.
"Why can't I? I always do it at home."
"It's different here, Johnny. I forgot to
tell you. The white people sit in the front of the bus, and the negroes
sit in the back."
"It's a law they have to obey."
"Why is it a law, Mommy?"
"Oh, I don't know, Johnny. It's just the way
"Don't they like the colored people?"
"Of course they like them, Johnny. They just
let the negroes sit together, and the white people together. It's the same
way in the shows, restaurants, and everyplace."
"Isn't that silly, Mommy?"
"Look over here, Johnny. See those
buildings? That's where they make the cigarettes like Daddy smokes."
"Won't I ever get to sit on the back seat of
"Oh, Johnny, I guess you can sit back there
when there aren't any negroes on the bus."
"When will that be?"
"I don't know, Johnny."
"I wish Daddy could take us back home right
away. I don't like it down here anymore."