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invisible line separated me and my friend Mary Beth. We were the
daughters of very different families.
Greg Sarris '78
by Carol Fabricatore
let white people impress you," Mother told me. "Win because you
want to win." We lived on Macdonald Avenue. The nicest street in
town. Wide and lined with tall eucalyptus trees that smelled so
sharp and clean even a blind man would have known what street he
was on. Rolling green lawns and square-trimmed privet hedges surrounded
the old Victorian houses with their double front doors and long
rectangular windows. In the late thirties and early forties, 10
years before the time I lived there, Hollywood used Macdonald Avenue
as a location for "every street America." Of course, Mother's and
my getting there was bumpy, and our presence, well, conditional.
We lived behind four-zero-five in a two-room house without a stove
or refrigerator -- a servant's quarters. Mother was a maid.
that it was a shack behind a house on B Street, not too far from
Macdonald, but not nearly as nice. And before that in a room that
Mother had rented in the Hotel Figueroa, a dump tucked in that stretch
of neon dives, pawn shops and used-clothing stores on lower Fourth.
Yes, we'd moved up, a steady climb since the hotel. But now things
were beginning to change again. I was becoming steadily aware of
how little of that plant-green and sky-blue space outside my windows
was mine. Day by day the world was shrinking and, before long, would
hold itself against the corners of my small house.
I found someone to help me. I found a companion: Mary Beth Polk,
the daughter of the people in the big house, Mother's bosses, Mr.
and Mrs. Polk. No matter that Mary Beth was white and rich. She
had everything and nothing. She was a girl in a family where the
sun rose and set on the boy. In school she was the dork with glasses,
having graduated from her earlier status as cootie bug.