"My work may be garbage but it's good garbage." Mickey Spillane
When Sovay was eight years old, we moved into a neighborhood that was mostly interracial and black couples. Altadena is lovely. We were living in the last house on the block. To the north of us was the Zorthian Ranch and beyond that the Angeleous Crest national forest.
For some reason there were not many two car families, but the grade school was within reasonable walking distance. The students there were a mixed bunch: white, black, and hispanic.
I no longer remember exactly what year the big Sierra Madre fire was, but it came rolling down out of the Angeleus Crest at us with terrifying speed. I got a phone call that they were evacuating the school and, since I did not have a car, I set out on foot to bring Sovay home.
There were a lot of mothers walking and we were a racial grab bag. It usually took me twenty minutes to walk Sovay to school, and hopefully that gives you an idea of how far it was.
Any way, this big van came driving slowly down the street and the driver leaned out the window and shouted at all of us moms. “Get on, we’re going to get those kids out of there.”
Moms of all colors jumped on and we took off. Between moms and kids, the van was packed like a can of sardines, but none of the kids from our neighborhood got left behind at the school.
The driver was a black man who worked nights and was therefore home when the evacuation order came through. Sovay often played with his children.
In that moment of crisis, there were no color lines. Just unity.