My mother Betty Peters, was an elementary school teacher. I found this paper she wrote very interesting. I was more impressed that she mentioned the possibility of adopting children. My mother had had the conversation with my grandmother about adopting children on her death bed. My mom was not able to have any children, and I did not meet my grandmother because she passed three years before I was born. But, my grandmother gave my mother blessings to adopt, so I feel that the thought of me was on her mind, and therefore I feel connected to her. The paper below was written about 1966.
I do not know Sidney Poitier. I am not a member of the movie colony. I am not even an avid moviegoer. However, there is something in the wind which disturbs me sufficiently to make me want to share my thoughts with as many people as I can reach. For over a year now, I have run into the same conversation now and then, in a variety of groups, to the effect that some of the young, or perhaps many young Negro people in New York are “downing” (speaking with great disfavor of) Sidney Poitier for playing “non-Negro” movie roles. These persons are saying he (and, of course, other Negro actors and actresses) should play roles solely which indicate the Negroes’ struggle in America, and that they should, I suppose, refuse to accept roles that show a person who is physically Negro in appearance, but in just about every other way, “White.” That is, sharing a common culture with white Americans, living similarly in many aspects of living, and – most important – having to solve everyday problems of a fairly non-racial nature.
I disagree with these people.
Serious theatre, like all other art, flourishes only in an atmosphere of freedom. The individual artist communicates his reactions in his own art form…in this situation, in drama. Art dies, and the public suffers accordingly, when art is confined, censored, restricted. The dramatist relates what he has experienced in his situations. The actor, another individualist, with his own individual set of experiences, hopefully, can empathize with the dramatist, and together they unfold the communication, as they see it and feel it, to the public.
Now there may be some people who see themselves only in one light. Such a person, if an actor, would have to be “type” casted forever, and there might be some questions as to whether to consider such
a person an artist. However, in this complex, multi-faceted world it is difficult to conceive of any thinking person’s seeing himself, or herself in only one light. As an example, I offer myself as a study.
Let’s see what other groups I fall into:
—I am a Television viewer
I am a music lover. I am a “reader.” I am an avocational writer.
I am a suburbanite. I am overweight. I am 40 years old.
I am a gourmet, of sorts. I am a dog owner. I am a taker of baths…I hate showers!
I am a user of cosmetics. I wear tailored clothes.
I belong to a credit union. I buy and drive foreign cars. I am a martini drinker.
I am not anti-sports but a-sports…not caring one way or another.
I hate heat waves. I like shutters. I dislike spiders. I love cologne.
I refused to join a social sorority in college but I do belong to an honorary fraternity.
I am a Liberal. I am a consumer. I am a “taxpayer.” I am a New Yorker, by
birth and upbringing, a Californian by residence, and more pinpointedly, a Los Angeleno.
I am a “propery-owner.” Sometimes I am a restaurant patron.
Sometimes I am an airplane passenger. I am an “only child.” I am an offspring of…
of a “broken home.” I am now motherless. I am an American.
I am middle-class.
To my third grade class, I am their teacher. Inside that classroom I share common problems, and have similar training, with and as teachers all over America. I grapple with problem children,, try to find time to enrich gifted ones, try to find time to do all that my job requires in the time allotted and in much overtime. I try to decide which teacher’s organization to belong to, if any. I react to supervision from the administrative branch. I try to maintain rapport with the community in which I teach, though, sometimes difficult, parent contacts. I try to have good relationships with other staff members, keeping in mind the concept of professionalism. I grapple with the idea of trying for advancement, and if so what? I could go on and on.
To my husband I am a wife. I am the one who has seen him “through” “thick and thin” for many years now. I am the person he must consider in both his big decisions and his most minute daily activities, such as weather to hang up his clothes. I will be the mother of his children, even if we find we have to adopt them. I’m the person he presents to his business associates, organization co-members, old Army buddies. I’m the hostess at his parties, his lover, his best friend. In short, I am to him what most wives are their husbands all over America and elsewhere in the world.
To various organizations in which I have worked, I am a reliable worker. Once I entered a room of a newly-formed civic group, uninvited, meaning to volunteer my services for the afternoon. A voice greeted my ear. I heard the words, “Here comes ‘Old Faithful’!” I turned to see the smiling face of a friend with whom I had worked in other organizations in the past. Later when the group disbanded, the project completed, I had added dozens more people to the fairly long list of those who see me mainly in this light. Old Faithful!
To many teachers at various points in my education I have been considered a truly gifted student, but one Chemistry Lab instructor at New York University indicated my lack of ability in this area of instruction was downright depressing.
During the last Christmas holidays the doorbell rang one Sunday morning. There stood one of our neighbors from around the corner. He and his wife are a retired couple. We have chatted with them on occasion. We have never visited their home nor have they visited ours. Much to our surprise the gentleman handed us a beautifully wrapped Christmas gift, which later turned-out to be a box of delicious chocolates. The man simply said, “Merry Christmas! You’re nice neighbors!” I’m a neighbor.
I quit one organization I was in, because I always seemed to be opposing the entire Board of Directors, of which I was a member. They made it quite clear what they though I was, a pain in the neck! Now if I see one of them in the supermarket they duck their head and go the other way!
To my doctor I am someone whose health he is guarding. Since I have had a variety of health problems, one which involved surgery, he keeps close “tabs” on me. To my dentist I fall into the group of people who pretend not to be terrified each time I sit in the dentist’s chair!
I am a woman! (We can vote now!) Recently I accompanied my husband to an affair which was being given for young boys. There were two or three hundred people in the room…all males! We hadn’t realized it would be so. I couldn’t go home. We lived too far away, and my husband was on “the show”, which was about to begin. Self consciously I tried to hide myself in a corner by a post. A few minutes later another woman appeared at the door with a tall man and a boy. I could feel her despair as she stared wide-eyed and open-mouthed into the room. Then she saw me! Her shoulders relaxed. The man and boy went one way. She smilingly picked her way through the crowd and cam and sat right beside me! She was not even my race!
To many people, I am an old and trusted friend. They have others.
To my political party I am a voter. This puts me in quite a large group.
To my minister I am a member of the flock.
To some relatives I am one of their beloved relations. To some others I am
the reason they are glad they can choose their friends.
I spent every Summer at my grandmother’s home in South Central Los Angeles, CA. This period of my life of every year, I called it “My Freedom Time.” I was free to have fun and could stay outside until the street lights came on.
Up the street was a convalescent home where my grandmother’s forever foster daughter, Diane Dudley used to spend her time volunteering. I started visiting the convalescent home when I was 7 years old as I had a relative that was a resident in the home. Her name was Ada Harp, and everyone called her “Aunt Ada” I am unsure even to this point what our actual relationship is on the family tree. This is a question I will be answering within a few days. What I do know is that she is related to my Grandmother Helen Bunn, my father’s mother.
When I visited Aunt Ada, there was a male resident that was smitten to my Aunt. I believe his name was Joe. I would push him or push my Aunt Ada around in their wheel chairs, and just spend time talking to them. Aunt Ada lived to be 94 years old (so I was 9 when she died). I remember her as always being so positive and upbeat, and she was always happy to see me.
|Joe, Aunt Ada, (Me), and nurse
Visiting the Convalescent Home
|Aunt Ada, (male cousins in front-Unidentified) Me,
Brother Marshall, Betty Porter, Walter Porter & Unidentified relative
|The Hill Family
(L to R) Ezell, Blanch & Linda in middle
When my Grandparents Helen Bunn & Willie Frank Thompson died in 1989 & 1990 ( a few months apart, my dad took me to their home, and I was told I had 10 minutes to pick out whatever items I wanted. The house was ransacked by family and non-family members that had been through the house weeks ago.
My grandmother’s jewelry was gone, and anything I would have thought of as precious. The only thing I could find to take was two photo albums and my grandmother’s bible. I didn’t know the value of it at the time. I was nineteen years old, and was very sad that I was not able to recover my grandmother’s wedding ring. I was her only grand daughter and my dad was her only child. Willie Thompson was my father’s step-father, and honestly I did not care for him as he was mean to me.
The photo (above) is of the The Hill Family of which I am related to. Blanch’s maiden name was Bunn. I didn’t know who they were, but in 2008, I went to celebrate my Grandmother’s youngest brother’s 90th Birthday, Robert W. Bunn, Jr. He is still living to this day. I brought pictures to the gathering to have relatives help me to identify. Robert’s daughter Rochelle sat down with me and some of the Elder’s and helped me to identify the photo’s. This family was from Chicago, and then moved to Los Angeles.
|My Dad, Walter J. Porter @ 12 years old Working at Wester Lingo’s Ice Cream in St. Louis, MO in 1940|
© Yvette Porter Moore-All Rights Reserved
I just came across this picture in a box I was going through and thought, “How Cute.” Just wanted to share this photo of my mom as a school teacher. My mom’s 3rd year as a teacher and 1st School.
|Betty Porter, December 1963 (37 years old)
Rosewood Elementary School, Los Angeles
|Inside of Program Card|
I wrote about Zara in a prior post Zara Frances Cully Brown, but wanted to share her actual program. I was 10 years old when I went to her funeral. Below, I am posting the last performance that my Aunt Zara was playing as Mother Jefferson.
My late father, Dr. Walter James Porter, had been a part of the Black Entertainment scene in Los Angeles, CA in the 1950’s and 1960’s. During this era, many entertainers performed in Black Night Clubs, as the Jim Crow Era was the political framework of the day. The Black Night clubs were located in the ghetto’s and the performers would perform not only in the clubs, but at parties, and other social gatherings. During this time there was no formal Comedian, Jazz, Entertainment circuit for African Americans.
My father opened for Jazz Artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Lionel Hampton and other Big Name Comedians Such as Red Foxx. Wally would perform his famous act with Jody and would go everywhere with this little guy with a hat.
Wally Porter also had many other talents as he wrote lyrics and music (of which two songs are played by Jimmy Witherspoon-3rd Floor Blues) Third Floor Blues, played the Bongo Drums and was a wonderful Dancer. He and my mother could really cut the rug…
Photo of Myself holding picture of my dad by Tyree Griffith.
|Advertisement, March 14, 1957|
|Walter and Betty Porter dancing at Walter’s Retirement Party|
|Advertisement, March 3, 1960|
Just a little Trivia….My Father would scare the color off of us when he would hide behind the corner and pop out with Jody staring at us when we least expected it…. My Dad could throw his voice, which would amaze us…Growing up With Wally Porter and Jody was a blast…Interesting enough, when my father died in 2001, so did Jody…He began to fall apart….