1952 started off with the realization that what had been was now no longer. The world had inexorably changed and left Natalia stranded. Everything had grown darker. Daddy was now embroiled in a battle to save his business and his reputation. Part of this battle was also to keep the family together. He struggled to prevent their being shipped off piece by piece.
At eleven, Natalia had grown more serious about boys. The year before, she had seen them as mere toys. Now, they were a source of comfort in these dark times. Tobias, her heart’s desire, had taken a backseat to those who were more attainable. For the time being, she had settled a bit and had begun to mature more.
Hormones, though rampaging through her adolescent body, were kept in check. She was curious about the changes she was feeling, but not so curious as to rush into something she would regret. Still emotionally shaky, emotionally immature, She still tended to have small outbursts. But she was still in the last years of her childhood, that gray area where childhood gave way to adolescence, and life took her a simple step away from the teen years, and she was having trouble wrapping herself around these changes. In one breath, she was excited and impatient about being a teen. In the other, she was scared of all these changes that were happening to her body.
Television was no longer as important as a source of entertainment. It still had its place in her life, but she no longer cared so much about it.The shows she had enjoyed as a child now seemed, well, childish and too simplistic. The shows daddy and the others enjoyed were not as interesting to her as they were to them.
Movies still played a big part of her life. Marilyn Monroe was still her idol. She still wanted to be a movie star. At the same time, she wanted to be a millionaire.
But music had suddenly entered her world. Not the music that had defined her. Not the jazz or pop music that her father loved. But doowop had entered her life, as had the emerging rockabilly music. Its popularity was still a ways off, but she had already fallen in love with it.It brought a freshness to her world that left all the other styles feeling a bit stale and old.
Bill Haley and his Saddle Men had begun a sound that made a young girl want to dance. It cast spells upon the heart and made the imagination run wild. Always counter to the rest, Natalia found in doowop a music style that spoke of romance and heartbreak, while rockabilly spoke to the rebel in her.
By August, Natalia had grown less nervous about the changes, though they still kept her off balance. School was about to start, but in the first week, It was time for the state fair. This meant She would soon be enjoying the carnival rides and the game booths. The animals were fine, as were the arts and crafts, but they were not her cup of tea.
Still, the fair was the one time where she had daddy all to herself. Mama always went with Shasta to see the animals and the other stuff. It was just the way it was. Sure, they came together for some of the activities, but not the rides. Or the animals, crafts, and arts.
She found it odd, however, that there were no people like Marty or Danni. Everyone was just like her. Well, not exactly. But there were no–people of color. At least not that she could tell. She found this both curious and a touch offensive. She had grown up, so far, being taught that there really wasn’t any difference-beyond color of skin-between her and those who were like her cousins. To not see people like them at the fair was, well, alarming.
For the first time, she was beginning to see the world around her. She saw the lack of diversity in the environment that was the fair. She felt that there was something very wrong. Or, at least, very different. And this perplexed her.
She looked up at her father. “Daddy?”
He looked down at her, though not that far since she was almost 5’6″, and smiled at her. “Yes, Princess?”
She frowned. “Why are there no people like Marty and Danni here?”
His smile became a bit crooked. “Well, Honey, there are those who believe that there should be no Negros where the whites go. It’s called segregation. Though you and I do not believe in such a thing, it is a law and so there is no mingling of whites and blacks.”
She wrinkled her nose. “That’s stupid. I think I will help change that when I become an adult. There shouldn’t be a law that is so–” she paused to find the word. “Wrong.”
He chuckled. “I sure hope so, Honey. If things don’t change soon, this country may not last. We can’t stand divided and still call ourselves the “United” States, now can we? After all,we’re all the same when the lights go off. We all have the same fears, hopes, and dreams. We all cry when we’re sad, we all feel anger when wronged. We’re all men and women. There really isn’t a difference. Color means nothing.”
She grew quiet as they headed for the Ferris wheel. For the first time, she was seeing the true world. She no longer had blinders on that hid the real world and what she was seeing had begun to disturb her. She hoped that she could lose herself at the Ferris wheel. There was no feeling like the one she got when she rose fifty feet into the air, first car by car, then slowly as it rotated one or two complete turns. The only thing that could beat that would be the roller coaster.
Of course there were other rides, and she would ride them all, but the Ferris wheel and the roller coaster were going to be the highlights of her Saturday. After that, she would terrorize the game booth operators. She smiled. She couldn’t wait. the discussion she had just had with her father had temporarily been forgotten.