Archive | February, 2016

Harper Lee

20 Feb

When I heard the news that Harper Lee had died, my emotions were mixed. On the one had, gratefulness. She gave me my favorite book. Inspired my favorite movie. Helped me think beyond what I was taught about class and race. The other emotion was sadness. I hate that second book. Truthfully, I never finished it. I just want my memories of “To Kill a Mockingbird” to not be sullied by that other book. I always thought my dad, Ray Rhodes, was Atticus. In a racially divided Paris, Texas, he welcomed black people to his soda fountain in his drug store. My dad was like everyone else raised in the Depression. “People knew their place.”  Along the way, my dad became enlightened. I think it was the kindness that he somehow was born with. Trust me, it didn’t come from his parents!  When dad decided he would welcome black people into the fountain, it was a bit of a deal. His friends, even long time customers, didn’t like it. My mom wasn’t even so sure about doing it. “Goddammit, Phoebe, it’s the right thing to do!”  That’s what he told her. Mom got on board. I was little. A kid. I knew it was a big deal, but didn’t know why. Turns out, it was a blip on the radar. It came, it went. No big deal. Then again, maybe it was. My dad changed things in Paris, Texas. Taught me to be a better person. Taught me that you can change your mind about things. Taught me that you can make things better. In high school, I had to read “To Kill A Mockingbird.”  Yes, I “had” to read it. Wow. My life was changed. In a way, I was “Scout.”  Just like her, I had watched my dad do the right thing. Just like her, I was changed. I am forever grateful to Harper Lee for giving me that book. I think it’s time to read it again. I might even try that second one again, too. No promises.