We encountered Jim Crow laws for the first time on a summer Sunday afternoon. We were about five and seven years old at the time. Mama and Papa used to take us to Pullen Park in Raleigh for picnics, and that particular day the trolley driver told us to go to the back. We children objected loudly because we always liked to sit in front, where the breeze would blow your hair. That had been part of the fun for us. But Mama and Papa just gently told us to hush and took us to the back without making a fuss.
When we got to Pullen Park, we found changes there too. The spring where you got water now had a big wooden sign across the middle. On one side the word white was painted, and on the other the word colored . Why, what in the world was all this about? We may have been little children but, honey, we got the message loud and clear. When nobody was looking, Bessie took the dipper from the white side and drank from it.