My childhood was easy: I walked to school without fear; our house remained unlocked during the day and my mother relied upon our maid, Johnny, to take care of the house, cook and watch over me. Although far from being wealthy, we would be considered so today.
For 18 years Johnny was my second mother. She fixed meals; placed band aids on my wounds and when needed, twisted my ear and spanked my behind. she lived in West and we lived in East Ocala; between the two existed the unseen fence of segregation. On the west side stark poverty prevailed: unpaved streets, run-down “shotgun” homes and outdoor privies. On the east side was a contrasting world of relative wealth. We didn’t question the right or wrong of segregation, it was part of the world we lived in.
When I went to work for my father we were always busy. There were plenty of jobs, a demand for our services and numerous projects being bid. At times I wished business would slow just enough for me to catch my breath. I learned to be careful what I wished for.
In October of 1973 OPEC declared an embargo on oil shipments to the United States and almost immediately the country was thrown into a recession. Suddenly, we had no work. My assumption that we would always be busy were turned upside down.
Not long ago, I had a conversation with a young man who related how his income increased every year for the 12 years after he graduated from college. He planned his lifestyle accordingly but the downward corkscrewing economy left him with debt he could not repay.
Wrongs occasioned by segregation; the time when there was too much work; the economic boom, were situations that didn’t last. In hindsight, I realize if I had examined these circumstances, I would have recognized the evil of segregation and that business booms are unsustainable.
I have learned that incorrect assumptions about the future result from the failure to examine existing circumstances.
“Questions focus our thinking. Ask empowering questions like: What’s good about this? What’s not perfect about it yet? What am I going to do next time? How can I do this and have fun doing it?” – Charles Connolly