Wednesday January 14, 2015 – The Doors – AKA –Molly, Odessa and Me
Today we are getting in the Way Back Machine to talk about The Doors. No, not Jim Morrison and the 1960’s rock group – although a loud Riders on the Storm under the right conditions is always stimulating.
I am talking about the doors that were on the horizon on May 28, 1967 – The following day after I graduated from high school. When I tell these stories to the Great nieces and nephews (GNs), they look at me with looks of disbelief and almost shock when they compare their high school experiences to mine. It is not exactly from the When I Was in School Files but almost. I did not walk five miles in the cold and rain. In fact, I wouldn’t walk 100 yards, in the sunshine crossing over a fence via a style (Google it). By the time my mother and I got to our garage and she drove around to the front of the school building, I could have been sitting at my desk on the front row and done most of the next day’s homework. But I digress as usual.
My high school principal was a wonderful man and was an excellent school administrator. Counseling was not his strong suit however. But there really wasn’t much to counsel about. We had parents for that. The high school was small with an average 30 students in each of the four grade levels. With a limited number of course offerings, compiling your class schedule was relatively simple then.
A few days before the first day of school in 1966 I actually did walk over the fence via the style to his office to pick up my class schedule for my senior year. When I saw it I said, “You have me down for Girls PE at fourth period. How am I going to take physics?” His reply? “Girls don’t take physics, D.”
I left his office and by the time I was crossing over the style again going home, I was crying. Arriving home my mother asked “What’s wrong?” I said, Mr. L. says I can’t physics. She asked “why not?” and I replied “Because I am a girl.”
She immediately dried her hands on the dishtowel, took mine and we crossed over the style and marched into Mr. L’s office. I do not recall the exact conversation, but I was allowed to take physics, but only under certain conditions.
The only way Mr. L would allow me to take physics was if another girl took it with me. Maybe he realized I needed to have another girl so we would be lab partners. Or maybe he knew the boys would sabotage our experiments like they did. I don’t know. But I talked Molly into taking physics. This woman definitely could have been a physicist. She knew how to calculate those instruments with precision and then read, interpret and execute the complex mathematical formulas. She was amazing. Molly would have made an excellent experimental physicist, while I was more on the theoretical side.
But I did not get to play anymore high school basketball. Just as well. I would have been on the bench. And this brings me to Odessa. She would have started and played way in front of me. She was good. I met Odessa when we were about 14 years old. But it wasn’t until the schools integrated that we really became friends. And I consider her a treasured friend today.
Like me she was a First Generation. She was the first in her family to attend college. She obtained a Master’s Degree in Counseling.
About twenty years ago we met at an education conference and had an opportunity to visit. As we reminisced about high school days, I made the comment that “I really wanted to be a medical doctor, but there were no girls out there knocking down the doors showing me the way.” She gently leaned over and touched my arm and said, “D, Black girls did not even know there were doors out there.”
So now it is present day. This is a picture of me and Sydney Colson.
She was born almost 20 years after Molly, Odessa and I graduated from high school. She played point guard on the 2011 Texas A&M National Championship team. “Colson had her best season during her senior year, the 2010-11 National Championship season. She led the conference and ranked in the top 10 nationally with 6.1 assists per game. She finished the season with 221 assists, which still ranks second on A&M’s single season assist chart. She still ranks fourth all-time in A&M’s career assists (504) and steals (255). She was an honorable mention All-America and all-conference selection her senior year.” http://www.12thman.com/ViewArticle.dbml?ATCLID=209369409
After being drafted by the WNBA and playing for The New York Liberty for a while, plus playing some basketball oversees she returned to Texas A&M University. Remember girls were once not allowed to attend college here. She is a second year graduate student, mentors the new players and works with the point guards. She is the team’s videographer and plans to pursue a career in sports broadcasting.
She is an incredible young woman who knew those doors were there and went through them like a rider on a storm. I bet she got to take physics too and it did not conflict with girls’ basketball. Plus there was little something called Title IX.
So here’s to all the Sydneys out there today. What is that other song by the rock group The Doors? Oh yes. Break on Through to the Other Side.