Alan S. Doctor,
I was born in San Francisco on 15 Sep 1930. Dad was Scotch/English and Mom was Polish with a dash of German. Both 1st generation born in USA.
My neighborhood friends were Hispanic, Oriental, white and refugee Jews from Germany. In high school I liked to walk home through the Fillmore district and fell in love with Dixie and other jazz. I would stop in front of the Negro clubs to listen and was frequently invited in. Never a problem.
I excelled in Army ROTC and graduated a Cadet Major. I enlisted Army in May 1949 and had Basic at Fort Ord, CA. The armed services were integrated by order of President Truman in 1947, I believe. The Army was struggling with this, still is. I remember a few black Trainees and one in my Platoon. He and I became friendly enough for me to go to his home in Compton, CA for a weekend and he came to my home in San Francisco for a weekend. We both had asked for training as an automotive mechanic and travelled together to the Ordnance Automotive School in Atlanta, GA. We departed Los Angeles via UP and were not treated well because we were Soldiers. We changed crews somewhere in Texas to SP. What a difference. Very good treatment.
Our duffle bags were delayed and we only had the OD uniform we travelled in. The bags showed up in 3 or 4 days and we had clean clothes. We decided to look around Atlanta and took the civilian bus downtown.. The driver stopped just outside the main gate and ushered all black troops to the back of the bus. We were shocked. I had heard about Jim Crow, but new nothing about it. The two of us could go nowhere together. After graduation I was assigned to an Ordnance unit at Ft. Riley, KA and saw more Jim Crow, Not as severe as in Atlanta.
On 15 Sep, 1950 I celebrated my 20th birthday in Pusan Korea and spent the next 12 months serving with the 1st Cavalry Division as an Infantry man and eventually as a Squad leader. We had a few black troopers and I don’t think that anyone really noticed. I was too busy trying to live. I was pleased to have people I could trust on my flanks.
I spent my 3rd year of active duty at Ft Huachuca, AZ where I served as the Bn. Personnel Sgt. Returned home to San Francisco, Got married and re-enlisted in the Army Reserve and, eventually, the Calif. Army National Guard. I retired with the rank of 1st Sgt. in 1981. There was a large number of Hispanic soldiers in the National Guard. My unit had one black officer and one black Platoon Sgt. I don’t recall any problems with anyone. We had a job to do and we worked together. My personal concern at that time was Vietnam. We were not ordered into active duty
My unit was sent to perform Riot Control in Watts during the race riot in 1965. We spent 9 days on State Active Duty. We were definitely in harms way. I recall an interesting event at the border between Watts and Compton in a strip mall. We had a few of us there as guards for 2 days. The shop owners set up tables with food and cold drinks for us. A very nice, white haired lady who was black came to me. She took my hand in hers and said “Sgt. you keep those G—D— N—– out of Compton. They don’t belong over here.”
My wife passed from a kidney infection after 45 years with me. I am re-married to a lovely lady who moved in across the street. The rest of my life has been pretty White. In Cambria I have several Hispanic neighbors. Hard working, good people raising their families. My daughters are doing well. My amazing granddaughters who are middle school age are doing very well. My grandson is a disabled Veteran with 2 tours in Iraq. He wanted to be like Grandpa so he joined the Army.
I am 87 and counting. I hope to pass 100. Disability and pain be Damned!