I grew up in Queens County, NYC in a lower middle class neighborhood in the early 1930s where I attended a public school, PS 127.
There were only one or two black kids in the school at the time when I was about six years old. I befriended one of them, Robert White. The other mothers were "Put out" because I was associating with him but thankfully my mother ignored them. I forget what transpired subsequently; he probably transferred to another school and I may have seen him casually once or twice in the succeeding years.
Fast forward now to January, 1944 when I was 16 and had just graduated from a Catholic, all-boys scholarship high school in Brooklyn. I was too young to join the Navy...had to wait until I was 17. So I attended Queens College, a branch of CCNY in the nearby town of Flushing, N.Y.
A friend and I would walk from our neighborhood to Jackson Ave. (subsequently Northern Blvd) in Corona to get a bus to Flushing. We had to walk through a dominantly black neighborhood. At the time, there was racial strife in that neck of the woods and a white boy had his eye gouged out.
One day, as my friend Bob and I approached Jackson Ave., we were confronted by three black boys about our age. Both groups stopped, facing one another, and the fight was about to begin when one of the black boys looked at me and said, "Hughie? Hughie Horning?" I peered at him and said, "Robert? Robert White?" We both smiled and he said to his companions, "Leave them alone, he's my friend." We shook hands and Bob and I went thankfully on our way.
I couldn't help thinking later how a "kindness" to a little black boy was returned 10 years later to a young white boy.
Submitted by Anonymous
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