When Karen and I were teaching in ghetto schools in the seventies, we lived in the ghetto as well. We kind of stood out, but we lived across the street from Karen’s school and had many African-American parents and neighbors as friends. We were very welcome in that community. Karen taught kindergarten and was having a lot of trouble getting one little girl’s dad to come in for a conference. None of her notes home were working, and even though he did come to pick up his daughter every day, she could never get through the crowd of kids and parents to get his attention.
One evening, as we were shopping in the local grocery store (the only two white people in the store and hippies at that), Karen saw the little girl’s father in the produce section. Now, Karen was wearing a long red dress and had long, straight blonde hair (see picture at the right). She rushed over to the very large black man picking out some lettuce in a crowd of others. She tugged on his sleeve, and said (this is verbatim), “You don’t know me, but you’re the father of one of my children.” The man jumped back, said, “Say what?” and then some other things I can’t write here. Karen managed to explain that she meant she was his daughter’s teacher and did manage to get a date for a parent conference. I was hiding under the deli counter and trying not to look like I was her husband but that was kind of silly as we were so obviously a couple. She came back all excited and all I wanted to do was get out of there and go home. We have laughed about this and told this story countless times. Our guess is that it has happened to other teachers, but maybe not quite so dramatically. That’s it. No great moral story here. Just another example of how fearless my wife was, and how she always seemed to get what she wanted. It’s part of why I loved her so much.