To the editor:

It was back in 1953 or ’54 when my grandmother took a trip down South.

Now, I’m not sure which state she stayed in. I don’t even remember the relatives names she went to see. I think she enjoyed her trip. I know she looked forward to riding the train south. I was only 6 or 7 years old, but what she told me after that visit to the South has stayed with me all of my life.

My little brother and I stayed with her nearly every Saturday, so our folks could have some time together. I thought she was wonderful. She taught me so much about life.

The day I sat next to her on the sofa in her little house on Walnut Street is a precious memory and life lesson. I asked her to tell me about her trip down South. She kindly told me about her stay and how well she was treated.

Then she got serious.

I remember her face and her eyes watching me. She described how the family had taken her downtown to see the activity in the small southern town.

It was a rainy day. She told me that the sidewalks were narrow and made of wooden boards. As they were walking, a “colored family” appeared walking toward them. They had small children with them. As they neared each other, my grandmother said her relative took her arm and told her to stop. She watched the “colored family” suddenly step off the sidewalk into the muddy street and walk around them. After the family passed, my grandmother’s family went on their way sight seeing.

I was puzzled at first and don’t remember what I said. I do remember what my grandmother said to me. She described how her heart hurt for the little children walking in the mud. She said it wasn’t right, that they should not have been expected to do that.

At that moment I was introduced to discrimination. It might not seem like much of an experience, but I felt my heart hurt for the children too. No ugly slang words, no guns or knives, no white pointed hats, no lynching ropes. It was just a family stepping in the mud for another family.

At 6 years old, I knew it was wrong. It still is wrong.

My grandmother was smart and she told the truth. I’m proud to say her name was Nelle Antrim.

Cindy Giltner

Portland