August 11th 1965, a young black man was pulled over because he was driving recklessly near Watts California. The driver was Marquette Frye age 21year old Negro. His brother Ronald age 22 was a passenger. Frye failed the sobriety test, so he was under arrest. Ronald went to get his mother who was about a block away, so they could
get the car home. The mother came to where her son was and started yelling and making a fuss about the arrest and since it was a hot evening, people were outside…soon there were people gathering around the scene and now Marquette was resisting and a struggle ensued. More police came and without going into all the details, the riots were started. I am in no way blaming anyone, I believe if not for the work of many, this could have been worse than it was. If you would like to know more about the Watts riots, there is information on the web.
Let me introduce myself, I am Mary (Stinnett) Evans, oldest daughter of Loy and Marcella Stinnett born July 12, 1945 in Tulare, California. My sister Sharon and my brother Bret are much younger than me. I have red hair and brown eyes. I am 5ft 4inches. Very thin. I had just turned 18 when we were married. Arney is my guy, my friend and lover. What do you do when your baby is dead, and your world is turned upside down? You endure! But the empty place never goes away.
True fear changes things; I thought people in California were better than this. How could they hurt each other, it is so violent. I never dreamed that we would have friends hiding in trees unable to go home. Not in our towns, not in my lifetime. I had always been afraid of Negro people. I was raised that way. Even when I went to school with them there was a fear factor. They were niggers to the men in my family. Never be in a crowed of them, they run in packs like animals. Stay out of their neighborhood. They are uneducated, welfare and food stamp people, just having babies like rabbits so they could rule the world even though they are lazy. They will steel from you given a chance. Were we bad to Negros? Not in California. That was in the South. Have they all gone nuts! I lived in Compton growing up, it was a beautiful city. Called the hub city to Los Angeles. I loved the down town; I thought the sidewalk was made of gold. There were shinny flecks in the cement, our town is special. What I did not know or maybe just didn’t care about was that Negros are not being treated well in Southern California. Or that Negros were unemployed and unhappy with the way they were treated, I was so busy just living my life with Arney and doing the best we could with very little that I never gave it much thought.
With Arney staying away from the hospital, I was alone. No one would come to this part of the city. And I would not want them too. No one in my ward had a visitor.
During the second evening I felt the milk for my baby coming in. I could only cry silent tears, I knew that I would never forget this time, this place, this great lose. I knew Arney was having the same feelings. The sun was going down when I sat up to see the girls that are sharing this room. It is awful to say, but this was the first time I really looked and really saw them.
Dinner had come and gone without me eating. I drank something sweet, and I hoped it would stay in me. I felt very small in that big room. I wanted to sleep, stay asleep till I could stop thinking. Maybe if I slept long enough the riots would be over. Maybe this is a really bad nightmare and I will wake to find life as it should be. And my baby boy would live.
Suddenly I heard a voice from across the room. It was bed #6 Miss Sarah, she seemed to be older than the rest of us. She had on a pink colored hair thing that covered her hair. Not a hair net, much thicker. What is your name child? I am Mary. You lost your babe? Yes, a baby Boy. I could hardly breathe as I spoke the words. I am Miss Sarah; I do not know where my husband and children are. I miscarried because I was pushed down in the street. Them People walked all over me. Someone brought me here. I saw her tears, and her face was round and beautiful. She had a couple of large bandages on her arms. Bed # 4 Martha chimed in saying, my baby is dead too. No one hurt me, God wanted this baby. It was not a good time for him to be born. My husband is somewhere in this hospital. No one tells me anything. I realized we were all teary eyed. Her words haunted me, maybe this was not a good time to bring a baby into this world. I fell asleep with tears burning my face. Where is God? Martha was thin and her arms seemed very long, she is pretty. Her hair is very short and curled just a little around her face. She could have been just my age. Her voice was tiny and very southern. I think under different circumstances she would be a funny girl, the kind that makes you laugh just being with her.
Morning came with very little said by any of us. When a nurse would show up, everyone had questions. And most of the answers were not good. My heart went out to these wonderful women. None of this was their fault, they were all victims. They had all lost their babies and had no idea if they had a home still standing. The fires had destroyed so much, it was not over yet.
I realized that I knew so little about life or maybe I just was not paying attention. I kept looking at the silent girl in bed #2 next to me. I finally got up enough nerve to ask her what her name is. She looked at me with her big brown eyes and said, I am Sylvia. I am a neighbor of Miss Sarah. She shared that she had seen me before in the little labor room. Then I knew she had her baby just a few feet from my head. She shared that the baby was a girl, and that she died. I remembered how I felt when I heard her baby cry. Sylvia had tears falling from her eyes, my husband might be dead, I saw him get shot. Lord, what did I do wrong? She could hardly speak. She was silent most of the time. Sometimes in life there are no words, just feelings. I think she was younger than me, she has a pretty face, and she is very tall, like a model.
I hated when they brought in food. No one cleaned us, or really seemed to care about us. I am sure that there are others just like us. We were not on the maternity floor. I went into the bathroom and cleaned myself the best I could. It felt good to have cold water on my face. My hair was in tangles, I felt old. I wanted to brush my teeth, I want, I want.
To be continued…..