An excerpt from my novel that will soon will be coming out.
About only 15% of all Bethelites were black. However about 60%
of the guys working in the bindery are black. This seemed odd to me how
misappropriate the numbers were. I couldn’t help to ask Calvin Chyke one day as
we were walking to the factory together why this was the case? He was in charge
of factory personal at the time.
He told me. “The black brothers had a natural rhythm that fits in
well with the machines.”
I guess this is one time when natural rhythm wasn’t an advantage.
Ronnie Klineman from Ruston Louisiana. Told me my favorite
story about Brother Swingle who was on the governing body. Ronnie sat on
Lyman’s table. There happened to be a new black kid from Detroit assigned to
Brother Swingle’s table. Of course as a new boy he was feeling pretty good
about himself as most new boys do when they first get there.
Lyman glanced over to him and said to him at lunch one day.
"Boy would you please pass me the potatoes?"
The black brother looked at Lyman with distain and fired back.
"I'm not your boy!”
To which Lyman said, not even batting an eye. "Nigger
pass the potatoes."
Hard to believe isn’t? Yes, Bethel was not the place to try
and be uppity. Black or white we were all just boys in their eyes and of course
they could say and do anything they wanted to us. Was this kid going to go and
complain about something a member of the governing body said? I think not.