In 1951, after we moved back to Florida, my parents managed a motor-court on US 19 in what was then semi-rural Pasco County.
We were a bit isolated up there and always looked forward to going into New Port Richey or taking any kind of road trip. For that reason, during those years, Christmas took on extra special meaning. That was the day we all piled into the Chevy and drove down to my aunt and uncle’s home in Tampa. I still have fond memories of those times; exchanging presents, playing games with our cousins and, of course, enjoying lots of delicious food.
But one of the highlights for me happened before we even arrived at my aunt and uncle’s. My father made a point of driving through the African American community in North Tampa near Nebraska Avenue.
It seemed like the entire community had come outside and were celebrating in their front yards. Boys wearing cowboy hats and firing cap pistols or showing off new baseball gloves. Girls gathered on steps giggling and playing with dolls bigger than they were. And both girls and boys zipping up and down the street on shiny new bikes.
We drove past block after block of people out and enjoying the special day. For a six year old, it was fascinating to watch and, I must admit, I was also a bit envious. I did not have a bicycle or a new baseball glove.