There was another Bynum just up the hill on Highway 78 (now 202) going towards Anniston. Today, they call it “Spring Hill”, back then we gave it another name, less flattering name for the hill.There was a small school up there before you got to the top on the left side of the road. I never saw it up close, but it looked like it had 2 or 3 rooms, maybe enough for the kids to go to school. There were also a couple of churches up there at the top of the hill, I think that one was Baptist and the other was Methodist, but I never knew for sure.We guessed that they worshiped the same God, but we never knew if their Jesus was black or white. The hill was always a place that we drove by and where we never stopped. There were kids there, but we did not play with those kids.
The separation of the races was part of the culture in the 40s, 50s and early 60s. The now infamous N-word was a part of the language of the times. It even crept into children sayings like “Enny mini mighty mo, catch a N-word by the toe” and stories like Little Black Sambo. It was a common and accepted word in the South.
I also remember the colored and white only water fountains at the train station in Anniston. One time I drank from the colored water fountain to see if the water tasted different and my parents pulled me away quickly so no one else would see what I had done. The water tasted the same to me; I was just a kid and did not know that this was a forbidden act.
Many of the women from up on the hill worked as our maids and caretakers.
My maid, Jina Mae, lived in a house on the far side of the hill on the left side; you could see the house from the highway and it looked like it was ready to fall down and rejoin the Alabama forest.I do not remember much about her except that she was very efficient in her housework and always smelled like the starch she used in our clothes.
Another Bynum Kids remembers:
“My surrogate mother was Amanda.I loved her so much and would have gone home with her to live with her 4 children.I hate the "N" word but it is a fact of our history, a word that we need to erase.
The day of the bus burning on John Hardy Hill was the day my first husband and I ran away and got married.When we got back from Buchanan, Ga, everyone at church was talking about the bus burning.
Those poor women worked for $3.00 or so dollars a day. White people were suspicious of the paper grocery bag they always carried to and from work.People thought they were stealing things (I knew Amanda was not).I peeked in her bag one day and saw an apron, comfortable house shoes and another dress in case she got dirty cleaning my house, and a coin purse. They could not afford purses so they all carried brown grocery bags.”
Another Bynum Kids added:
“I loved ________ Mae, our maid, more than I did my mother (also named _______ which I thought ironic)!She took care of me, took up for me, and truly loved me - what could be better than that?I hated leaving her when we moved away. She deserved so much better than life afforded her. Do you remember the maid named "Neil" - at least that is what her name sounded like to me - who lived on the hill?Maybe she was the part-time maid for the family next door? One of the women had her to do ironing because I remember Mother saying to someone that Neil could stand at the ironing board doing ironing all day. She had a teenage son who did heavy yard work for us sometimes.Mother called him, "Pig".I remember asking her what his real name was, and she said Pig was all she knew. She always gave him hot dogs for lunch, and he would come to the back door to get the paper plate of food and sit on the steps, or on the ground under a shade tree, to eat every last crumb. He was really, really hungry. I remember seeing him come to the back door with his head bowed to ask if he could have more hot dogs, and Mother would give him two more. I think he got hot dogs because that was about the cheapest thing to feed him, and it was clear to me that the thinking was that hot dogs were good enough for a "colored" person. I am sure he wasn't paid more than a couple of dollars for a day's hard work, if that”
Another Bynum kid tells his story:
“My wife grew up in another Southern city. Her father was a well respected member of the community. One problem, he was a pedophile and her mother was an enabler. He molested my wife from a very young age and her older sisters also; she cannot remember when it stopped because the memories from the teen years are too difficult. Her mother knew on some level, but it was much more important to project the right image to the community so she turned away from obvious clues and even blamed her daughters from stealing too much of her husband’s attention.
Normally, this could cause a child to become mentally unstable, but my wife had Ina Mae Jones, her “Nursie” who was their daily housekeeper. Ina Mae was the only reality that my wife had that did not abuse her. Ina Mae rode the bus every day from northern part of the city, ate a simple single slice velvetta sandwich for lunch and had her own small bathroom; she was not allowed to use the regular bathroom. She had several children of her own, but had never been married; she said that the fathers were too worthless to marry. I think she knew about the molestation, but as a black woman in the South, she could not say anything to stop it. But, she did help my wife though the hard times by being kind, patient, understanding and caring. Interesting footnote, none of the daughters went to college; in my wife’s case, her mother would call her stupid even though she was bright and had good grades.
Ina Mae had to quit when my wife was a teen, and my wife felt that she had been abandoned. Later we found out that there was an illness in her family that would not let her continue working.
After we were married, we would visit Nursie at her house in a rough section of the city. Her parents tried to talk us out of going into the neighborhood, but we always felt safe because Nursie lived there. When we would visit, Nursie would call my wife her white baby. When Nursie died, she was buried in the simple dress she picked out in advance. When we go back to the city, we always go by Nursie’s grave out of respect and to my wife’s parents’ graves out of obligation.”
Another Bynum Kids adds:
I know we all have some prejudices.I have a black friend here at work who I feel is more prejudice toward whites than I am toward blacks, although she says I am an honorary sista.The first thing she said to me when I showed her the web site was didn't any blacks live there?
I have a white friend about 10 years younger than I am who I will not invite to go anywhere black friends will be.She thinks she can tell if a black or white person lives in a house by looking at it.
I remember the bus burning, I was working at the drug store and heard the explosion.
I believe it was the Adams boys who pulled Nat "King" Cole off the stage in Birmingham and beat him up.I don't think he ever played the South again.
I remember being on Quintard one night with Bobby Arnold and some others and we saw crosses burning in the median, this was going toward Oxford.We went to WDNG and told who ever was there that night but I think he thought we were making it up.The burning crosses were in the Anniston Star the next morning.What an eerie sight.
At the drug store we had to watch the blacks and the Gypsys one lived close to Lincoln.Face it anybody else Doc thought might want to steal from him.”
We all sang “Red and Yellow, Black and White, they are precious in his sight” in Sunday School and sent missionaries all over the world to help the needy. We just never seemed to see the needy just up the hill in TheOther Bynum.
Another Bynum Kids adds:
"I'd like to say that I hever harbored any ill feelings or bigotry toward any black people and never heard anything of that nature from my parents. I do resent those who foster a stereotypical view of the South as being a hateful place. We are all products of our enviornments and of the times in which we live. I went to a segregated school before I knew the definition of segregation because that was the school I was assigned to.
I remember with great fondness the three ladies employed by my parents at various times. The first was a grandmotherly type named Arizona, before my Mother went to work at the depot. Her main duty was ironing. There were two ironing boards set up and Mama worked alongside Arizone till the task was finished. The second was Ludie, a tall, tom-boyish woman, probably in her mid-thirties, entrusted with my care and feeding and some light housekeeping after Mama started working. Then there was Henrietta, a pretty young woman who always wore a blue dress and a pink apron. Ludie's husband, Carmichael, had such an obvious crush on Henrietta, which certainly did nothing to encourage friendship between the two ladies. Henrietta had a little boy whom I never met, but I begged her to bring him so we could play together. All these ladies were paid the going wage of $20 per week, which seems like nothing now, and although they would never get rich on it, was a big chunk of my Mother's paycheck. Remember, women were discriminated against too.
I remember Tom, the janitor at Bynum School. Every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas, every child in first through sixth grades brought an item of "non-perishable food" which was put into big, decorated boxes, along with a turkey, and presented to Tom so he and his family would have a nice holiday season.
While some of the things I remember are considered wrong by today's standards, it was the way things were, and we have, thankfully, come a long way. When I was a child, I was thankful to have been born white. I remember separate water fountains and restrooms; even seats on the bus were separated according to race. I remember passing the school on the hill and noticing the broken-out windows; the folks sitting on the steps of a dilapidated house, screenless doors wide open, probably to catch a breeze. At the theater, blacks entered on the side of the building and sat in the balcony. If memory serves, they could attend only once a week on a designated day, known as N-word Night. In my child mind, when we passed a house in a black neighborhood where there were pets in the yard, I wondered how their owners had known if they were white or black when they got them.
And yes, I remember Uncle Remus stories as told by Mr. Little, Superintendent of Schools, with such love for the children at Bynum Elementary. I hope he also stopped by for visits with the children at the school on the hill and shared stories with them because it's an experience you could never forget."
The Wife of Another Bynum Kid tells this story:
"My mother-in-law told me to stay away from the "Hill", that it was dangerous up there. One day I had a tire blow out on my VW right at the top of the hill. Needless to say I was scared, but there was no alternative but to go to one of the houses and ask to use the telephone. The woman in the house was kind and gracious, but told me that she did not have a telephone. I was shocked to hear that someone in that day and age could not afford a telephone. I had to walk down the hill to Mom's house in heels. She would have helped me if she could."
Another Bynum Kid tell this story:
There was a black lady who for years worked in the nursery of Bynum Baptist Church. I thought I’d never forget her name, but it seems I have. Someone had to go and pick her up each Sunday. She lived on the road going to Lincoln. She had a nice house on a hill. Every Christmas the church would take up money and food for her. I have no idea how much money she made. In later years, I thought about the fact that she never got to worship with her family or friends…she was always at our church.
Also, I was in the 6th grade in 1967 when word came down that our school was going to be integrated. The black kids from the Hill were coming to Bynum Elementary and their school was closing. It was all we talked about that summer. We found out early that we would have only one black child in the 6th grade….a girl. Her name was Vicky Walker and her father worked at the Depot. I remember Daddy sitting me down and telling me that this girl came from a really nice family and I was to treat her with respect, just like I treated the other classmates. He said he wouldn’t tolerate anything that would hurt her.
On the big day…the first day of class, there she was. She was sitting in a desk as we entered the classroom. She was so small. Her clothes were immaculate, her hair was shiny. She even had little string in the holes of her pierced ears. SHE HAD PIERCED EARS!! How Lucky!! Vicky Walker was one of the nicest girls I knew and we became friends. In later years, I heard she won the Miss Black America contest, but I’m not sure if that’s true. She was sure pretty enough