© by Sherry Ibidii 2015
Melvina did it again, she brought out some memories that I had that she wanted me to share.
Thank the Lord that me and my brother were protected by the Lord and our honesty and unprejudiced upbringing.
Here then is a very quick, 'DAD" down and dirty - unpolished first draft. Later to be refined and added upon when I get my brother's words first person.
This true story is a minor incident or incidents that were nothing compared to what the world has and is currently subjected to surrounding prejudices.
San Francisco 1961 - 1963
© by Sherry Ibidii 2015
I did not recollect the Rosa Parks as it happened as I was pretty young at the time [1955.] We did have events at school in San Francisco in the 1960's with inequality and prejudice with the teachers, staff and school district, kids and parents to cause 'riots'...
Old Mission High School San Francisco
My cousin Karen two years older than my brother who was a freshman, told some of the kids not to hurt my brother as he was about to be thrown down a set of stairs. They knew she was not prejudice, and was class president or something. She told them that my brother was not prejudice either. So they left him alone.
James Lick Jr High still looks the same today
Spring 1963 James Lick Jr High School 7th Grade:
The kids knew I was not prejudiced as well and told me to stay in the bathroom when there was a fight with the bloods, the Crips and the white shoe gangs.
They knew I was neutral and did not join the gang.
What gang do you belong to?
I was walking down Noe street towards 22nd street as we lived on Hill street between Noe and Sanchez street. I had on a pair of white plain tennis shoes, called Ked’s at the time. Me and Brenda H. and Christine S. The one boy asked me if I was a 'white shoe.' I did not know what a white shoe was. Brenda, who was a white shoe or at least her brother was, told him I was not. That I was friends with her and we hung out, and that I was neutral. I knew some about the gangs at school and that there were the Bloods and the Crips. Mom and Dad told us about gangs in their school days in San Francisco there was the Pachuco's and the Outlaws which was a forerunner of the Hell's Angels started by Ray Outlaw.
Brenda who was Filipino, Native American and a few other nationalities, and her family lived across the street from us on Hill Street. She was in the same grade as me and made friends with me. I hung out with her and we walked to school together some times. She had a sister Carol who was a year ahead of us and an older brother who was married with a wife an son at the time. The Mom worked somewhere where they were using the old ‘hanging chad’ IBM punch cards. Which she brought home the ones that were being recycled for us to use to draw on and play school with under the stairs at their home outside.
Brenda wore white shoes and I think her brother was part of the early white shoe gang for Edison Elementary school in the late 1950's which we were attending 1960- 1962.
The next year when we all went to James Lick Junior High school I met many more kids and saw less and less of Brenda and Chris. Neither one were in any of my classes for the next 18 months that I lived in San Francisco and that neighborhood. I was involved with the Camp Fire girls so I had different friends in 6th grade. I did not stick with the Camp fire girls in 7th Grade or half of 8th grade.
I went to church and not much else.
I was friends with anyone and so was my brother. We had our own persecution because of our religion.
So in 1963 Spring I was in a cooking class. Some of the girls who were bloods took my purse and opened it up and used my lipstick and rifled though my purse and inspected it all. I said nothing. I am sure I had a look on my face that said Hey that’s my stuff! So because I did not do anything about it they knew I was neutral. I had no idea how to fight or retaliate. I was quite a pacificist as I learned at church and from my family. My parents never told me I could not hang out with certain nationalities or religions. My parents had friends with every nationality and religion.
A few weeks later it was time for us to learn to make Coffee in the foods class. I went to the teacher after the announcement of the upcoming menu. I quietly told her it was against my religion to drink coffee. I do not recall her saying anything at the time. The rule was that you had to consume the foods that were cooked in the foods class. I was so honest and I hated to waste food, as we grew up on the poor side when I was under 10 and was taught to not waste things. Dad made better money by the time I was 11 and they bought the house on Hill Street. It was only 2 years old.
So the next day in foods class the teacher made me stand up by her and announced to the whole class that I was not going to drink the coffee. Why the kids expressed on their faces but were not allowed to speak... The teacher very spottily said it was because I was a Mormon... She then said some things that I do not remember as I was so embarrassed. I went home and told my parents. Mom was outraged as she was subjected to the same. I am sure she called the school and told them that I did not have to drink the coffee and why and said that the teacher had no business bullying me in front of the class. That teacher was not very nice to me after that. I do recall having some kids snicker behind my back something about a tail and horns... Can you believe that? Mom said the kids used to come up behind her and flip up her dress and ask if she had horns.
So the bloods who took my purse saw that the other kids were being prejudice of me because I was a Mormon... I had not experienced shunning before that and I was shocked that I was losing friends and they would not talk to me...
I remember sitting at the back of the bus and the bloods would say you are supposed to sit at the front of the bus. I had no idea. The bloods knew I was neutral.
One day near the time of my brothers experience 1963, there was going to be a rumble. I was in the bathroom and the bloods who were in my foods class shoved me back into the downstairs bathroom and told me to stay there. I heard that there was a rumble - a knife fight with the girls! I came home and told Mom and Dad. So they said that they were planning to move anyway that summer and that tied it. They were concerned for our safety.
That summer in 1963, I went to the dentist and my cousin was with me for two weeks visit. We walked down to Mission street. We planned to take the bus to the show on Castro street after the dentist visit.
Some white shoe boys attacked us and were trying to take my purse. The same pocketbook with a wrist strap that the bloods had taken from me. The boys yanked so hard and for some reason the Lord only knows I was able to hang onto my purse. I am lucky my wrist was not broken, it was very sore a long time after. I was so shocked that these boys wanted my purse. I was lucky they did not use a knife or beat me up. The Lord had a hand in this protection for sure. My cousin also was shocked and ran away. Finally the boys left seeing how they were not going to get my purse. My cousin caught up to me and we went on to the dentist and the show. I had the bus pass so I needed that for sure. I only had the lipstick and some coins and probably a dollar not much else. Mom and Dad told me after that to surrender my purse. I decided that I was not going to use a purse after that. I did not use a purse for 3 more years. I used one on and off but mostly hated carrying a purse after that. Grandma had me take my coins and rolled them in a handkerchief and told me to tie it on my wrist. Later I started to put my coins and bus pass in my shoe.
1964: We moved to Marin county north of San Francisco. I did not have any more issues with anyone trying to rob me. There were no gang fights at school.
All was well with the kids and I again was friends with anyone. My church friends were limited as there were only 10 Mormons at school. We were a minority for sure.
Then when I was a Senior I was shamed again in front of the class.
I had this History teacher who must have been board or something. Every day when one of the girls who came around to collect the roll sheets he would stop his lecture and talk to the girl in front of the whole class. What an embarrassment for the girls.
One day a cute little blonde came and he asked her what her name was. It was Smith like me. He looked at me and then back at her. He said pointing to me was I her sister? Did we have the same father and was it a polygamous family! Were we related to Joseph Smith the leader of the Mormon church?
I was shocked and the poor girl was shocked. She could not even speak. I could not speak. She shook her head no and left as soon as he turned away. I was sad that the teacher shamed me as if there was something wrong with me. I felt bad for her. I then was upset that this teacher who obviously looked at my school records which I did not even know listed me as a Mormon, had the nerve to use that on me in class... I was so shy in class and only spoke up when the teachers demanded me to speak. I was wroth with that teacher after that and could not wait to get out of that class. I never had any of the kids at that school make fun of me or say my church was wrong or any thing bad to me. I had many friends who were of the Jewish faith and they openly accepted me and I hung out with them at lunch and after school and parties.
My Life: I did not ever have anyone ever be rude to me since in my 65 years. However my oldest daughter and her Mormon Missionary companion were attacked by a man on the train where they were serving their mission in the early 1990‘s in Norway. The man who yelled and screamed at the girls and saying in Norge that they were children of the devil then jumped at her companion and started to choke her! Miraculously my daughter got the man’s hands off of her companions neck. The train just got to Kristiansand stop a few seconds later and they fled off the train. They reported the incident but did not press charges. What a harrowing experience! That was Astronaut Lund’s daughter. The Lord made my daughter strong to withstand that man’s strength!
My brave Daughter: My daughter had other experiences as well. None of my kids were harmed but they sure took a blistering from the horrid things that were said to them. My 3 other kids have all be fortunate to stand up for what their convictions were way more than I did. I had shrunk back because I was blind. I did not get back my voice or strength until I was well into my 30‘s!
1997: It was 34 years later when a man struck up a conversation with me at a bus stop. Started off with small chit chat and he finally said “Where is your purse?” I said: “I do not use a purse.” I used a back pack then as I was going to college at age 47 and I had to hold my white cane as a blind person... It was clear that this man had intended on robbing me. After that I quit the bus as much as possible and started to take the disabled bus called Para-Transit.
I am just sad that race, religion and prejudices have to stand in the way of progress in the world. It makes me ill every time I hear of all the injustices. I have already written a story of how I was arrested because I looked like a criminal!
My heart goes out to those who have been harmed. I know that there has to be opposition in the world and it is sad.
My spirit hopes that others will wake up and realize that we are all in the family of man.
Online references by others: Gangs -White shoes: http://foundsf.org/index.php?title=Mission_District_Gangs_circa_1964-1972
Riots at SF state and High Schools in SF:
In the San Francisco Bay Area, during late 1963 and early 1964, local residents, including high school and college students, picketed and demonstrated against discriminatory hiring practices at local grocery stores, hotels, and at the automobile show rooms on Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco. By 1963, there was an annual Human Rights March up Market Street. At this time, open campus political activity was forbidden both at the University of California, Berkeley and at San Francisco State. On both campuses, students would begin to challenge the philosophy and dictum that they were not permitted to bring their involvement in current political activity on campus. Student frustration with this prohibition would lead to the 1964 Free Speech Movement at Berkeley, and the creation of the Speakers Platform at San Francisco State. Students here wanted an outdoor area on campus where they could speak freely about issues which interested them. SCOPE (Student Council on Political Education) pressed for such a facility, and was joined by other organizations on campus. A wooden speaker's platform was created in the little triangle of grass directly to the northeast of the present Student Union Building, and in 1963 formally "dedicated to unrestricted freedom of expression." The Speakers Platform, the first of its kind on a college campus, was to be a central location for strike activities.