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  • Writer's pictureJames Sargent

Dissolving a Stereotype

Updated: Feb 18, 2023

Blog from Long Pursuit, ch 4, “Mickey Meets Tommy Jefferson”:

Jim Sargent

Mickey, wearing a blue suit, white dress shirt, and his favorite green and white striped tie, could hear dogs barking, cars starting, and people talking as they walked by the house in twos and threes. Normal’s newest teacher was waiting for White’s Cadillac to take him to the Willow Run Airport. Ike was lying on his brown and blue rug, his large brown eyes watching the front door. Hearing two honks, Mickey glanced through the screen and saw Tommy Jefferson, the former Golden Gloves boxer, standing up on the driver’s side of the blue sedan …

“Good morning, suh. How is you doin’ on this sunshiny day? We goin’ to the airport, right?”

“Yes, sir, we are. I have to catch a plane for Washington.”

Mickey climbed into the blue front seat, holding his bag. Tommy slipped in on the other side, looking at him with a quizzical expression. “You sure you don’t wanna sit in the back, suh?”

“I like it up here with you.” Mickey grinned, looking at Tommy’s amiable features. “But I need to be there by a quarter to eight.”

“I can do it, suh! Here we goes!” The Cadillac’s overhead V-8 roared to life, and Tommy, flashing a broad grin, rolled off toward Ballard Street en route to the terminal …

Several minutes later, as they pulled into the parking lot in front of the long terminal with the flat red roof, Mickey was thinking ahead about his first flight aboard a military transport. “Will you be picking me up tonight? I can call Yancey White when I get to the Washington Airport.”

“I will, Mister Mathews, so no need to bother about callin’. Mister White will send me here after dinner. I can wait. I know lots of colored folks workin’ here, you know, porters, baggage clerks, and drivers.” His broad grin reappeared. “I got friends!”

Mickey reached over and shook hands firmly with the driver, whose large paw swallowed his hand. “I’d like us to be friends. Maybe one of these days you can do me a favor.”

Jefferson smiled, exposing a missing incisor on his left side among his bright white teeth. As Mickey got out, he was thinking Tommy was living the persona he believed white people expected. Filing the thought, he hurried through the front entrance. A tall gray-haired black man wearing the terminal’s uniform held open the door. Looking back, he waved at Tommy …

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