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For the first eleven years of my life, I was a often difficult, but largely carefree child.I will not say that I had it particularly easy or difficult.But I was usually accepted for who I was:an intelligent Jewish child.My parent valued education over everything else, so wherever we lived, we moved to the places with the best local school systems, such as Montgomery County Maryland or New Rochelle, NY.
I cannot say that my parents had a particularly good relationship: things were volatile.But, for the most part., major decisions were made jointly.That changed in 1975, when I was eleven.My father was unhappy as a resident in Radiation Therapy, as he wanted to help people, and cancer is a bad disease.So, in 1975, my joined the United States Navy as a Flight Surgeon.I am not sure if my mother agreed toit or not, but when he was sworn in, I was there, but not my Mom.
To become a flight surgeon, my dad had to go through training, which, I thought was cool.The training occurred at the Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, which meant that it would be near the beach:also cool.And he would learn to fly planes:really cool.
We moved to Gulf Breeze in August, 1975, right before the school year started.I think we were there three days before the school orientation at Gulf Breeze Middle School.At Orientation, what struck me first was that everyone was White.There were no Blacks, Asians,or Hispanics.Even today, this is a description of the school from http://www.santarosa.k12.fl.us/gbm/about/about1.shtml
“Gulf Breeze Middle School is a predominantly white school which mirrors the community. GBMS is 88.13% White, 6.82% Multi-racial, 2.23% Hispanic, 2% Asian. .47% African-American, and .35% American Indian. Economically disadvantaged students account for 16.22% of the population. Additionally, 10.96% are Students with Disabilities (SWD), .81% are classified as English Language Learners (ELL), and 18.92% are gifted.”
That means, that, if there are 500 students, there are 440 white students and only 2 black students.
Back then, on that hot August day in 1975 at Middle School Orientation, for the first time in my life, I felt out of place…different.Why?The Principal of the school started orientation with a prayer to Jesus for a good year.I had never been asked to pray to Jesus before.And I didn’t.My mom was furious and wanted to make a big deal…I just wanted to fit in.
The first few weeks were fine.We went to the beach a lot, and I tried to make friends.Rosh Hashanah was on a weekend…but Yom Kippur was on a Monday.That meant that I had to miss school.When asked about the absence by my classmates, I explained that it was a religious holiday for me:the holiest day of the year.In hindsight, I should have lied and said I was sick.Because after that, things started to change.
I do not remember the date that things went to outwardly hostile, but I remember that it was between Yom Kippur which was September 15th, and before Hurricane Eloise, which was Sept 23.During that week, I was out on the pier, as was my sister.One of the neighborhood boys and his “gang” were making racist comments about black people – how they smelled funny.My sister commented back that something like, “Have you ever been close enough to smell one, because one of my best friends was black, and she did not smell bad”.At that point, the leader, who was a few years older than I, had brown curly hair,called my sister a “Nigger Loving Pollack Jew”.My sister corrected him:we are only half polish (or is it Austrian?Borders change).
At this point, the leader started his dirt bike, and chased me down to the end of the pier.His friends then threw me off of the pier, saying that the dirty jew needed to be cleaned.I swam to shore, at which point they carried me back out to the end of the pier and threw me off again.And again, and again.I think it repeated at least one dozen times.
The next day, in school, his friends beat me up.We all got sent to the principal’s office for fighting.One of the boys went as far as saying I started it for being Jewish.In 1975, Gulf Breeze Florida, that justified corporal punishment.The beatings continued.I gave up riding my bike: every time I was out the bike, the leader would try to run me off the road with his dirt bike.I would only go outside when no one was around; otherwise I would get beat up.But I could not avoid them in school.
Somewhere during this time, a cross was burned in front of the school, because of the loss of purity, and someone threatened to blow it up…It seemed to me that the principal of the school blamed me, as I was the difference that was causing the problems….without me, everything would have been fine.So, the paddling continued.
I remember one day, probably in mid October, where at lunch or Recess, I was playing on the Monkey Bars.I was pushed from about six feet up, not by accident, but because of what I was. I landed hard in the sand, head first.I had a seizure from the blow.When I woke up, the other kids were kicking sand on me, saying how they will bury the Jew.Hopefully, today, the injury would be recognized as serious.Then, they would have sent me back to class, except I wet myself while out.
That was the last time I went out during recess.The only person that seemed to understand was my ArtTeacher.She invited me to come into theart room for the free time.Between classes, though, the beatings continued.And, reports of me fighting, followed by the paddlings.One day, the Principal told me the best thing to would be to accept Jesus.Then, everything would be fine.
The good news was, though, that my Father’s assignment was temporary.I think he graduated from Flight Surgeon school on 18 Dec 1975.By Thanksgiving, we knew my father was being assigned to Naval Air Station Lemoore in California. Around my birthday, my parents informed the school that we were moving in a few weeks.My mom then pulled me out of school for the remained of our stay.
In retrospect, 36 years later, I think I understand the impact this experience had on my life.Through my Teen’s, 20’s and even 30’s, when encountering perceived injustice, including anti-Semitism, my reactions were much stronger than the situation warranted.I think I have since mellowed.Such reactions have resulted in a wedge between me and other people.
My experiences have also shaped my political views.I am moderate overall, but believe in an absolute separation of church and state.Any politician that tries to blur that line will not get my support.That, more than anything, is why I am a democrat.
I am incredibly proud of what I see in the current crop of youngsters.They do not care about the differences.They are all just children, playing.Black, White, Hispanic, Indian, Korean, Chinese, Arabs, etc.The children today make me proud and hopeful for the future.
This is a blog about all things real estate (and a few extras). I blog about my buyers, sellers, listings, short sales, the real estate market. I am internet savvy and am trying to learn more skills. I like blogging because I get to share information with other real estate professionals. I can find you a great home in the Treasure Valley. I was the Democratic Nominee for CD2, Idaho for the US Congress. I have two website: http://www.debbieholmes.net and http://www.greatboisehomes.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.