excerpt CHAPTER 5 – THE WICHITA HOWARDS

…As I reached high school age, my parents had enough financial resources to join a country club. Prior to that, we belonged to and therefore swam at the Wichita State Shocker Club, then the eastside YMCA. When we were able to join the Crestview Country Club, it was a real treat. Tennis, swimming, and golf, along with a nice dining facility, CCC had it all. I remember being frustrated that I couldn’t play golf with my dad on Saturday mornings, as tee times were reserved only for men who couldn’t play during the work week. Dad did find time to take me on weekday evenings, and those long walks together while he taught me to play golf were special times.
I had a good friend whose family also belonged to that club. She and I had the same birthday. Our friendship grew as we celebrated our birthday together each year. We spent many afternoons and Saturdays on the tennis courts together. We played a lot, but also socialized with other players, both youth and adult. I always enjoyed swimming in the Olympic-sized pool and using the diving boards—especially the high dive, from which I could do several advanced dives with twists and flips.
I didn’t realize it then, but of course no Jews, Blacks, or Hispanics had the privileges at the country club that I had. They also didn’t live in my neighborhood or attend my church. Some attended my schools, beginning with desegregation in the late 1960s, and I was able to form friendships with them. In that regard, Wichita wasn’t much different from most Midwest cities of the time. I wonder what comments I might hear now if I were to take my multi-racial family there for a swim….

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