80 Years Ago, when the Klan Marched through Downtown L.A.

In 2021, so called “Anti-Maskers” are wreaking havoc for Black and Latinx retail workers across Los Angeles, harassing official vaccination efforts at Dodger stadium, and gathering hundreds of thousands of signatures to recall the 40th governor of California, which will prove an expensive campaign for the state to rebuff. There is almost no evidence that the LAPD or the FBI have significantly arrested or investigated members of these groups for their potential involvement in criminal activity against the larger public.

But this is not the first time that such groups have gone unchecked by local and state officials in California. 80 years ago, a group of hood-wearing white supremacists in Los Angeles similarly made their voices heard, and like today’s predominantly white “mobs,” they were also unimpeded by LAPD forces. The California Eagle reported:

The California Eagle on April 4, 1940; Courtesy of the Internet Archive

Failure of police to halt the parade of Kluxers was severely lashed by prominent leaders. Twenty hooded members of the Los Angeles Klan No. 1 marched through downtown streets handing out handbills denouncing communism.”

The California Eagle on April 4, 1940; Courtesy of the Internet Archive

While twenty hooded Klan members marching without a permit for two hours surely created panic for nearby African American service workers and other non-whites, editors for The California Eagle reported that no Klansmen were arrested or even questioned.

Editors for the paper also noted that: “Department officials explained that it was not necessary to obtain a parade permit, since there were assertedly less than 30 marchers. Violent protests are expected from civil liberties groups and private citizens. Rebirth of the Klan [had] been heralded for more than two years, but Saturday’s demonstration was the first blatant indication of active local participation.”

The California Eagle on April 4, 1940; Courtesy of the Internet Archive

Less than two years after the Klan’s march, on February 19, 1942, tens of thousands of Japanese American men, women, and children in Los Angeles would be rounded up at Union Station to be placed in Concentration Camps, as they were officially called at the time, where they would remain against their will for over four years.

Japanese Americans herded at Union Station to be sent to Concentration Camps, February 1942; Tessa collections at L.A. Public Library

And in 1943, “…with the Japanese out of the way, anxious white hysteria in Los Angeles led to increased targeting and attacks against Mexican Americans in the city, culminating with the arrest of 17 Chicano youth alleged to be members of the 38th street ‘gang,’ based on weak evidence accusing them of murdering a fellow Mexican American youth at ‘Sleepy Lagoon.'”

No reports or evidence of any Japanese Americans, Mexican Americans, or African Americans rallying for their “supremacy” throughout Los Angeles could be found, however.

J.T.

Dug Ramon: Hot Wheels

As I played with my toy cars next to the giant living room window, the early morning summer sun shined a rectangle of heat all around me. My neck and arms burned, but I was frozen tense as I watched my mom from the corner of my eye pacing back and forth. She bit her nails while her other hand gripped the cordless phone to her chest. Suddenly, I heard keys at the door.

It opened and I saw my dad standing there wearing the same clothes from yesterday. I fell asleep the night before in his rocking chair waiting for him.

“Sabés qué?!” my mom screamed at him. “Si no vas a llegar a dormir a esta casa, por qué putas no te vas mejor?!”

My heart pounded and my hands stiffened on my Hot Wheels. It didn’t make sense why she’d scream at him to leave when he’d just gotten there. My stomach moaned and ached.

Mom gripped the phone, trembled and swallowed, and stared at him with teary eyes.

He said nothing. He glanced at her then looked down, took a shallow breath, and walked past us and into the kitchen. I heard a drawer open and a big noisy trash bag was taken out. Dad walked back in holding the bag and hurried into the bedroom without looking at us. Mom followed.

I pretended not to stare through the doorway at them as she kept screaming.

“No soy estúpida!! Encontré su número en tus pantalones!”

I wondered if she meant the lady dad made me talk to on the payphone the other night. I got worried he would think I told mom after I promised I wouldn’t.

She kept screaming: “Si querés andar jodiendo largate a la mierda mejor!”

Why would she scream at him to leave like that? My heart pounded faster and I felt worry on my face.

I heard the plastic bag being filled while mom kept screaming. Dad was quiet. With my head lowered I peaked at them again and saw him lifting the bag to cascade its contents toward the bottom. He pulled his pants, shirts, and underwear from our dirty laundry hamper and threw them into the black trash bag.

I looked back down at my cars simmering in the sun and my hands were shaking. Dad walked back into the living room with the bag and stood far from me, but I felt him staring. He stepped closer, to the edge of the sunlit rectangle, and knelt down as he dropped the trash bag of clothes onto the warm carpet in front of me.

“Mirame hijo,” he said, and I looked up at him. He looked away quickly.

“Me tengo que ir,” he said avoiding eye contact, “pero sabés que te quiero mucho.” With his hand on my shoulder, he forced a hug around me.

I didn’t move. I didn’t say anything back. I didn’t ask why he had to leave, or tell him to stay, even though I really wanted to. Everything was bright and blurry and I noticed I was squeezing my car.

He stood up, took a deep breath, and lifted the trash bag over his shoulder. He said nothing else.

In the quiet, my mom sniffled. Dad walked to the door, left the house, and mom and me stayed there quiet and shaky.

I turned quickly to look out the living room window, but the brightness burned my blurry eyes. I wiped them and as they adjusted I saw dad walk across the street with the black trash bag over his shoulder. He threw it into the bed of his beat up blue pick up truck, got inside, started the motor, put it into gear, and drove away without looking back.

“Quitate de allí,” mom said, but I didn’t move.

“Quitate de allí!!” she screamed and the cordless phone shattered against the living room wall.

DR

Dug Ramon was born, raised, and resides in East Hollywood, Los Angeles. An LAUSD, LACC and Cal State LA alumni with a background in psychology and mental health, Dug works as an office manager and writes daily for his own joy and sanity. Dug hopes to grow as a writer in the coming years and share his work with more readers. He’s currently working on a fiction project, from which “Hot Wheels” is an excerpt.

Julieta Galan: Memories of our reality

State street park, a comfort zone on the street to me.

I’d go there to play on the swings,

I’d feel the breeze passing through my untamed frizzy hair,

Through leaves of the trees and the rattling grass,

Balancing the warmth of the sun enough to be able to withstand the sun a little while longer.

There are times that the sun gives streaks of golden sunlight on the grass,

The grass that has just been showered with water.

And if you listen closely it’s almost as if mother nature is trying to communicate with you.

This is the park where the recreation center instructor taught me how to play the guitar,

Where I first stepped foot on a stage to perform “Yellow Submarine” by The Beatles in cold December.

The first terrifying moment of my childhood,

My heart was pounding and my hands were sweating,

I felt as if I was a contestant on American Idol,

It was only that the recreation center was encouraging me to practice the confidence I carry within me.

Seven years later when I visit this park it’s only a reminder of how I used to feel towards it.

Returning to it now, I see the saddening truth of it all.

There is a fence dividing the park and the street that gets smashed into the basketball court,

Threatening the lives of the youngsters playing in the court.

Young drunk girls peeing on the grass,

The gang that once used to run the park are all cracked out, not going anywhere with their lives,

Fools only looking for trouble asking the kids “what street they claim.”

In a house across the street the dealers sell drugs to anyone who needs a fix.

The police continuously make rounds around the park day and night staring down anyone who looks suspicious.

I can only reminisce about how I felt,

It’s a different life at State street park when you’re all grown up.

In the first half of the 20th century Boyle heights had a diversity of Japanese, Latinos, and Jewish people, but because of racist banks the Jewish were run out. They couldn’t borrow money or buy houses even after Bill Phillips helped in the process of bringing all these people together. The banks didn’t want to lend the Jewish people money or decide to reconstruct their homes, forcing them to move out. Economics and racism are pretty much still the same thing in Boyle Heights.

J.G.

Julieta Galan is a Boyle Heights native and resident of Los Angeles.

Thelma T. Reyna: Old Habits

How easy it is, how easy,
for the brain to trick us
into wiping pain away,
into thinking you’re here at my door,
or in the kitchen by my side, sipping
at the mug, sighing at the early hour,
calling my name, your
mouth at my ear.
How easy, how easy.

The brain contorts memory
to shadows of itself, clipping
connections to calendars
and seasons, children growing
into future mists we veil over when
we’re tricked. I hear footsteps,
jingling keys, the gentle click
of a door unlocked, water lapping
at your washbowl, gentle, curling,
steaming stream gurgling, and
you humming as you shave your neck.

How easy it is
to hear these precious sounds again,
these tiny tunes of love,
tricking death and me with
double shots of cruelty: warmth
at the reliving; then stabs
of recollection,
of seeing you lowered,
sinking,
roses sliding
to the soil.

T.R.

“Former Poet Laureate Thelma T. Reyna weaves her nationally recognized skills as poet and as storyteller to craft a stirring, heartfelt memoir in poems that captures the essence of her husband’s brave, love-filled life—and the despair she navigated and surmounted when her spouse of 50 years died suddenly in minor surgery.”

5 NOs to Remember with Your Fam this Summer

JMBTMS_SALV_1110
J.T.’s Great Tio on Grandpa’s side; San Jose Guayabal, El Salvador, 2018

1. No, They’re Not (Always) Trying to Make Life More Miserable. Think about it this way: with everything going on at school before summer break, it’s likely that you didn’t quite have a plan about how to get through summer break. The same is true for many parents and/or siblings. So all of a sudden, you’re all ‘cooped up’ at home again, and there will be challenges. Sooner or later, someone’s emotions are gonna get high, and then, let’s be honest: someone’s gonna make a mistake. Trips will get canceled. Stuff will get lost, and other things will go wrong, too. But it won’t be just because your family’s (always) out to make life more difficult for you. It’ll be ’cause all the ‘free’ time during summer in Los Angeles can be a burden for a lot of us to get through without fail. Accept it!

2. No, They’re Not the Worst Family in the World. Let’s face it: even if you know it’s not all their fault, there will still be times during summer when it’ll feel like your family just doesn’t get you. And since you’ll still have to live with them even though you’re from two different planets, it’s gonna feel like you’re just stuck with them. But here’s a secret: the differences you have with your family, if you can see them for more than just what makes you opposed to them, can be the things where you learn the most from. Even more than what you learn at school! But it sure doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to settle the differences with your counterparts.

3. No, They Can’t Just Leave You Alone Every time You Want. Here’s a fact: your privacy is a key part of what makes you the unique person that you are. But now here’s another fact: when you live with others, there are going to be times when your privacy will simply not be possible. You’re going to have to learn how to share. I remember when mom would cook lunch for my brother and I, and how I’d be so selfish. I wanted the table all to myself. Or, if I had to share, I wanted the best seat. Little did I know then that getting just my way every time I wanted it would simply make life less interesting. Eventually, I’d not only get better at sharing the table with my brother thanks to learning with him, but I’d also get better at sharing with others in general. And now I love sitting down to eat with my bro whenever we get the chance. (Love you W!)

4. No, They Don’t Just Want to Take All Your Stuff to Leave You with Nothing. Now here’s one that makes enough sense, but which is hard to remember: sometimes you lose things to find other things that you need. Wanna know how I know? Occasionally, when not heeding guidance like the one in this post, I’d get the Xbox taken away for misbehaving, or I’d lose all my TV privileges. At first, I had no idea what I’d do without my electronics. But then, I got creative. And eventually, I got to writing. This would one day turn into JIMBO TIMES: The L.A. Storyteller. Now, you and I both know we can’t get enough of this blog!

5. No, Things Won’t Always be This Way. Although you might not believe it, the fact is that you will not have your family right next to you all the time. Slowly but surely, you will meet other people, and you will find other things to do besides being with them every day of the season. Then, one sunny morning day, you’ll not only be able to find your own way, but you’ll have to.

This brings up one key question for me to ask all the Youngs out there. If you could find the best possible scenario for you to ‘leave’ your family with before setting out on your own life, what would that scenario look like? What would you want for your ma’ or your pa’? And/or what would you want to ‘give’ to your siblings before you could no longer ‘give’ them anything else? If you’re up for the challenge, answer these questions with no less than 300 words, then send it over to yours truly for review. If you think you can do it, then GO! The future is counting on you!

J.T.

Better Late Than Never: Educating One Young Hyena in Los Angeles, Part I

Tokyo, Japan; Summer 2017
Tokyo, Japan; Summer 2017

It was 2007, or what was supposed to be my Junior year at John Marshall High. But like most students in the Los Angeles Unified School District that school-year — 48% according to official estimates — I wasn’t set to graduate on time.

Most of high school was a whirl-winding hayride for me, and “the race” in which I fell behind saw me slipping as early as 2004 when I was a Freshman on “B-track.”

At that time, LAUSD still had “track” or rotation systems instead of its year-round schedule, and as opposed to the more pleasant “A”or “C” tracks, “B-track” was supposed to be where “the troubled kids” were at.

But the differences were all the same to me as a Freshman. Almost as soon as I stepped through the gates at Marshall, I looked around — at the teachers and counselors and supervisors — and rolled my eyes with a passion. Like generations of teenagers before me at L.A.’s public schools, I felt at odds with them.

They didn’t know a thing about me, I thought, and yet they wanted to direct my life like if it was their right.

But it wasn’t just that strange adults wanted to teach my teenage mind without knowing anything about me; it was also that so many of the teachers I met seemed worn out by the subjects they were supposed to shepherd us into, and even resentful or downright hostile to me and my peers for being the students assigned to them.

I couldn’t put it into words at the time, but since the first day of class, while my teachers could certainly recite their subject, they had next to no idea why it was supposed to be useful to the students before them. This came off in the tone of their voices as they called our names on the roll-sheet.

One by one like a monotonous record, it’s as if every name they announced was another extension of the hour they had to put up with us; as if they were forced to be there just as much as we were. I could only slouch further into my seat as roll call went on.

Eventually, I knew I’d have to make a choice. I could either go to class and be miserable, or I could just find somewhere else to be. Since teachers and students alike were so disinterested, I told myself, going our separate ways was the only natural thing for us to do.

In the mornings, I’d skip Health and Math classes, link up with some of the handful of friends I’d made over the first few weeks at Marshall, and slither through the hallways with them towards an exit. When we’d come upon a short fence located just a small walk away from the restrooms, we’d jump it with lizard-like sensibilities.

Moments later, we would find a corner nearby, huddle so as not to be spotted, and use the time to chill and “chop it up,” or talk.

For a time, my chosen education was what I learned in these conversations, which were mostly centered around romances, “beef” or trouble with other kids, and occasionally, what we might truly want of ourselves apart from escaping our classrooms.

We’d have these conversations in our adolescent voices, filling them with our “benign” adolescent ideas, but the dialogue we created in the experience still felt more genuine than any I could engage in with either my teachers or counselors at the time.

Around noon, when the bell for lunch would ring, my peers and I would jump the fence back to school for the day’s meal.

Following lunch, we’d just ‘coast’ through the last two periods of the day. And when the final bell rang just before 3:30 PM, we’d dash past the doors of our classrooms and race through the gates towards the street. I thought I was so cool,

But fast forward to nearly three years from that first, disoriented semester in the high school landscape, and my goal wasn’t to get out anymore, but to get back in; at sixteen years old, I sat in the dean’s office at Marshall pleading with Mr. Cook to give me a second chance back into the school.

The time since Freshman year had slipped past me as quickly as my body had slipped past Marshall’s fences. In less than three years, I ricocheted across four different high schools after being expelled from Marshall during my second semester for too many ‘truancies,’ “F” grades, and other offenses.

The clock was ticking, and I could finally appreciate the fact of it, but the question between me and Mr. Cook in his office was clear:

Was it too late?

Seated in the same chair from which only two and a half years prior I’d stare down at an expulsion, I assured Mr. Cook that in fact it was not too late, and that I would “be good” for a second chance indeed. He looked at me then, and I returned his glance in kind.

At the time, Mr. Cook must have been approaching something like his mid to late forties, punctuated by the fact that he was in the early stages of a balding process, and which also showed in his calm demeanor as I made my case to him. There was an earnestness in his demeanor, and when it came time for him to decide, Mr. Cook didn’t quite give me a smile, but he did have this look of resolution on his face; like when a person realizes they’re going to get rid of someone by giving them exactly what they want.

I was back in.

I was given a second chance at Marshall in 2007 three years after wanting so desperately to get out. But there was one catch.

In the second half of the 2006-2007 school-year, I was behind on an entire year’s worth of credits, meaning that I was a Sophomore when I should have been a Junior, and that I would be a Junior when it was time to be a Senior getting ready for graduation.

The likelihood that I could graduate on time was thereby slim, but like generations of young people at L.A.’s schools before me, as the prospect of a basic education flailed out of reach, I took my chances.

After all, at that point, with so much time away from Marshall despite starting there, I was just happy to be back at my home school. I could sit in Marshall’s classrooms again, and this time, start off on just the right note.

When I first got back, I was re-entered into “A-track,” which was colloquially known as the track for “the smart kids” because it contained the school’s Magnet or advanced classes.

I was originally a B-tracker when I started at Marshall in 2004, but on A-track in 2007, I did just what was needed: getting to class on time, turning in my homework and assignments, and otherwise keeping a low profile.

There was only one problem: I didn’t know or very much like any of the A-track kids. The A-track kids usually came from the uppity sides of town like Los Feliz, Atwater Village or Silver Lake, and it showed in their lingo; they spoke in much “cleaner” or complete sentences than my friends and I, and therefore lacked any sense of coding or subtlety for good measure. In other words, they were like, ‘totally,’ white-washed.

At the same time, since the A-track kids all knew each other, they invited each other to one another’s house-parties. I’d never known any of my old friends to have houses, which seemed like weird extravagances to begin with, but then when the A-trackers would talk about them in their totally complete sentences, I just felt more out of place.

As the months went on then, although my academics on A-track got me off to a strong start back at Marshall, I lobbied mom to help me get back to “B-track,” where the lot of my friends from the old neighborhood were.

I figured that being back around so much of the old crowd wouldn’t prove to be that much of a challenge, but once I got the chance to see for myself, it wouldn’t be so simple.

In the fall season at the start of the 2007-2008 school year, in what was my second semester back at Marshall, mom and I got me back to B-track, where the rabble-rousers and old friends were at.

My schedule subsequently turned into a mixture between two types of classrooms. In one period, I’d find myself with students who were right on schedule with their graduation date, and in the next, with my old peers again, most of whom were not set to graduate on time.

Apart from graduation though, it was personally reassuring to be back in classrooms with students who knew the same corners of the neighborhood that I did, and who walked into class with the same gusto; it was this very familiarity that I was looking for when I asked Mr. Cook to let me back in to Marshall to begin with.

To no one’s surprise though, when my old peers and I found ourselves reunited again, we’d make a ballad of it. I rabbled with them not in each and every class where we’d reconnect in again, but just in the ones that met the right conditions.

In English class, for example, where we’d have a different substitute teacher every three days because our actual teacher was constantly dealing with health problems, my friends and I ran circles around the subs with the age-old antics: spitting paper-balls at one another, writing letters to the romances, and unifying against most, if not all of the subs’s agendas.

As it was in Freshman year, if substitutes came in to establish authority over the class, my peers and I weren’t having it. But unlike in our Freshman days, instead of resenting our subs and making our way out of class, this time my friends and I simply laughed them out of the room. We had learned.

By contrast, when it came to Geometry class, I still joked around with the few of my peers who sat in the room with me, but just on occasion since I knew I couldn’t afford to fail and retake the course later.

In my Programming course, where I had none of my old friends alongside me, I was in the top tenth percentile of the class.

I had different types of performances then, but because I opted to joke around with my old gang in classes like English, my strong start back at Marshall was om precarious footing.

Two months into the 2007-2008 school year then–which was by then also supposed to be my last at Marshall–I was still not projected to “catch up” on enough credits graduate on time.

And soon, the two types of performances I was putting up since returning to B-track would have to come to terms with each other. This would be no clearer than in History class with Ms. Hart.

Ms. Hart was an older Jewish woman with curly gray hair in the History department at Marshall. There wasn’t much that was extraordinary about her as a teacher, but like so many of the disinterested types from my Freshman year, she was clearly just not a big fan of her job.

Classes like History at Marshall were a traffic jam, with ay least 30 students to the room. There were also virtually no Teacher’s Assistants for History, and since it was a subject riddled with events and timelines that seemed to speak little to the present moment, it was easy to derail lessons into debate about what actually was and wasn’t important for us students to know in the present day.

By then, it also must have been Ms. Hart’s tenth year with the subject–if not longer–and so she had plenty of reason to be exhausted.

But along came me and my peers like a pack of young hyenas, and all we saw in her weariness was a green light for our coordinated folly; even if we were in the later part of our teens at that point, and even if we could still graduate if we “just put our minds to it,” the fact of the matter is that most of us didn’t want to hear about graduation because we were resigned to the prospect of not graduating.

That’s where the complication lied; even though I identified with so many of my peers being behind on credits, replete with the anticsg of it all beside them, I still personally believed that I would somehow manage to graduate just in the nick of time.

Sure my grades were mixed since I’d gotten back to “B-track,” but even if I joked around like it didn’t matter to me, there was a resounding belief within me that I could and would still make it happen somehow.

I’d feel good then as I’d walk into Ms. Hart’s classroom with a mischievous smirk on my face, ready to rile up some rowdiness and turn in just enough work for a “C” grade.

At two months in her class, I showed her that on the one hand I was capable of any of the assignments she gave me, just like when I was on A-track. On the other hand, I also showed her that I was even more prone to getting carried away joking with my friends at the expense of the lesson plan; a true B-tracker. This contradiction would only get me on her bad side.

Ms. Hart’s class took place during fourth period, and I remember the one late morning when I got to our classroom early and she wasn’t in yet; I kicked my feet back on the desk, hollered at ‘my boys’ as they made their way in, and prepared for another hour of casually sabotaging the class.

A moment later, when the bell rang for fourth period to start, Ms. Hart walked in curtly, scribbled a few instructions for an assignment up on the board, and took a seat at her desk.

She then pointed at the board without saying a word; it was her way of telling us that that she wasn’t the one to be clowning around with that day.

When I registered this, I made a half-hearted attempt at abiding by her request, but my effort didn’t last long. Within some ten minutes, I crumpled up a piece of line paper down to a tiny paper-ball and set my sights on my old friend Brian a few desks away.

Brian nearly always got a kick at even a hint of disorder in class, and the sound of his laughter was usually so contagious that it nearly always served as the spark which lit up the rest of the belly-aching throughout the room.

I then flicked the tiny paper-ball towards Brian, which patted against his cranium and floundered across the floor. His infamous cackling proceeded to bellow out, and predictably turned the other heads of the class in our direction.

But this time, Brian was hardly at the outset of his laughter before Ms. Hart’s eyes shot up from her desk and fixed their gaze on me with laser-sharp focus. Ms. Hart then proceeded to march towards my seat, and I gulped, knowing that one way or another: it was coming.

Ms. Hart would go on to call me out that day. About how I never took anything seriously. About how life wasn’t just some big joke. And about how she actually knew just why I was such a clown.

By then I was used to hearing the first two statements from her, but the idea that she suddenly knew something about my character was different.

Maybe she had discovered some part of me that perhaps even I didn’t know about at that point; her words both perplexed and engaged me.

And so I asked Ms. Hart then, half in curiosity and the other half in a type of defense:

“Well, just why am I such a clown Miss?”

That’s when she slammed me with it:

“It’s because it’s clear to everyone that you won’t be graduating on time.”

For a moment I was astounded at the certainty in her voice, and unsure if I could trust what my ears had heard. So I asked Ms. Hart just what she meant by what she said. That’s when she repeated from the high tops of her lungs:

“IT’S OBVIOUS TO EVERYONE IN THIS CLASSROOM THAT YOU’RE A CLOWN BECAUSE YOU WON’T BE GRADUATING THIS YEAR.”

After months together, she had finally gotten my full attention, even if it was only by hurting me that she could do so.

I didn’t say anything to Ms. Hart for a moment, choosing instead to just shrug off her words until I could finally muster,

“Okay Miss, if you say so.”

But I remember going to lunch that day feeling broken.

Ms. Hart hung me out on a limb in front of everyone, and suddenly the gravity of being a year behind on my credits weighed in on me like the tagging or writing on the walls that filled so many of the school’s restrooms.

It didn’t look good, and if I didn’t do something about it fast, Ms. Hart would be right, just as Mr. Cook would be wrong for allowing me back in to Marshall in the first place.

Only then did it dawn on me that I had a choice to make a again.

J.T.

Show and Tell: The Sock-Puppet

I will never forget the anguish I put my mother through as a child. So many dreams. Dreams that are memories now and also pain mixed up with love and a desire to let them be known.

I remember the sock-puppet for show and tell. It was a cloudy afternoon when the dim orange lighting of the kitchen washed over the peeling walls as I begged and pleaded with mom to help me with my show and tell project.

I needed something to show. Mom worked in needles. She worked in sowing, in making something out of nothing but a string of yarn. She agreed to help me then, making my anguish into her anguish as the hours seemed to trap both of us in their midst. It was still early in the afternoon when I sidetracked her with my last minute request, and we could take the whole evening if need be, but the next day still loomed like the clouds through the windowpanes, into our souls and slowly more coldly.

As night encroached I didn’t know if we would make it. All I could feel was my heart pouncing as time managed to swerve right above our every angle and motion.

Mom kept her personal sowing machine in the kitchen, and it didn’t dawn on me that she did so because that’s where she could get more work done for her shift at the garment warehouse the next morning. It didn’t occur to me that she had already had an eight hour work-day by the time I made my request to her, and that she had already picked us up from school, and that she had even managed to prepare dinner for us to curl into the evening with our bellies full.

All that dawned on me was my show and tell. The sock puppet needed to be real, and to come alive like the ones on Mr. Rogers’s. I needed to be able to hold my puppet, and to tell its story like an expert.

So I went back and forth between the kitchen and the living room checking on mom and her hands at work, keeping an eye on her angles as she shaped the dimensions of the puppet underneath the magic needle. She gave life to my dream on that day, which was also my pain, in one of the earliest instances of a lifetime of last minute races against time and everything that seemed possible that I’d embark on with her. We would share anguish over each other and one another’s fates through the course of many years in this manner. Years which would also seem to dash just above our heads as we scrambled to meet them with our best minds.

Before late into the night, mom stretched the hands and legs of the tiny sock-puppet before my eyes. I remember looking at it in that moment, as if to look into the depths of imagination itself, and feeling at once that it wasn’t like what I expected.

Made purely of black yarn, it didn’t look like the sock-puppets from Mr. Rogers’s. And it barely fit through my hands. I also couldn’t move the legs if my fingers were placed through the puppets’ hands, and likewise couldn’t move its hands if my fingers were placed through its legs. At least, not in the seamless way that appeared to be most right.

What’s more, our sock-puppet had no face. It was just the figure of a body, but it had no personality.

I barely mustered a thank you to mom before taking it from her hands then, as I figured that I could maybe still make it work, if only I gave it some eyes and some lips and a nose. I then retreated into the living room with the soft garment in my hands, placed the puppet’s body down on the plastic table where my brother and I did our homework, took some scratch paper out of my backpack, and set out to give the tiny figure its rightful personality.

I won’t ever forget the face I would forge on the sheet then, because it was the most natural face that came to mind in that moment; the only one in the entire galaxy that I could draw with some ease. After cutting out the circle of paper that we’d glue onto the figure’s circular-shaped head, I gave the sock-puppet curious wide eyes, brimming bright eyelashes, a roundish nose with just a small lumping tip at the end, and a set of large, wise lips. It was the face of my mom.

Even if the figure wasn’t quite what I expected then, I would still have something to show for show and tell. And my mom’s face before my anxieties–just as her hands motioning through the darkness of the night to still save the day–would remain with my memory through a lifetime; every dream come true for me now is only an extension of everything possible through the tiny sock-puppet with her eyes.

J.T.