|Nun Unknown (Photo credit: Todd Ehlers)|
Like children tend to be I was curious when I was a kid. There were those mysteries about the world that puzzled me. Then there was my fascination with how things worked or what was inside of things. It was not unusual for me to break something open to see if I could figure out what made the darn thing do what it did. Or I'd just come up with some random question that would cause my mother to immediately shush me.
When I was very young living in Cleveland, Ohio, my mother would sometimes cart my sister and me downtown as she ran her errands. Since my parents only had one car in their early years together, my mother, my sister and I would have to walk a few blocks to the bus stop in order to take the bus downtown. Looking back I've got to admire her fortitude in running errands via public transportation with two very small kids in tow. At that time I would have been about 4 or 5 years old. My sister was 20 months younger than I. We must have been a handful!
As the older child I was probably the more talkative and the one most prone to saying embarrassing things. Like the time when I saw two nuns board the bus. We weren't Roman Catholic and those were the first nuns I had ever seen. My eyes must have been wide as they could be. Tugging my mother's arm I blurted, "Look Mommy, ghosts!"
My mother put her hand over my mouth and told me they weren't ghosts. I don't remember her explanation, but thereafter I was aware that nuns had something to do with church. For a long time after that the concept of nuns was a bit of a mystery to me.
This was back in the mid-1950's and most neighborhoods were pretty segregated. I'd seen black people on television, but I thought they were just characters with some kind of make up. I had no understanding of racial differences back then. My first actual encounter with a black person was on one of those bus trips with my mother. I couldn't take my eyes off of the first black person I ever saw--the concept of skin color was puzzling to me. Staring intently at the black man I asked my mother as surreptitiously as I could, "Mommy, if he took a bath would the color wash off?"
My mother quickly shushed me on this one. If the black man heard me he didn't show it. I kept looking at him wondering about that skin color. I really wanted to understand how some people were darker than others. I'm sure I was not much more curious than other kids my age. After all when the world is new and we are learning everyday, we want to know about everything.
Where you a curious kid? What kinds of things did you wonder about when you were a small child? How often do you think your curiosity embarrassed your parents?