Friday, May 8, 2015

White Socks Only
 by Evelyn Coleman
 Illustrations by Tyrone Geter

A powerful story!  Great storytelling!

Book Talk
A young girl starts the story by knowingly and fondly encouraging her grandmother to tell one of the girl’s favorite stories of her grandmother’s childhood in a small town in Mississippi.It doesn’t take much to talk Grandma into telling the story again, and the young girl knows that!

In her strong, beautiful Southern dialect, Grandma starts telling her childhood story and what happened to her on one particular day that was an absolute ‘scorcher.’

As a young girl, Grandma had always heard the expression, “It’s so hot, you can fry an egg on the sidewalk!”  This expression always sparked her imagination and on this scorcher of a hot day, she wanted to see for herself if it was true!

She preceded to put on her finest white dress, with her finest white socks and her patent leather black shoes.  Into each pocket, she put a raw egg to use for her experiment and she headed into town to where the sidewalks were.  She walked very, very carefully  so as to not upset the eggs, but eventually one broke when she passed by a very mysterious neighbor.  The yoke and egg white ran all over her dress and legs.

She hurried into town and forgot about that broken egg and neighbor.  She found a good spot to conduct her experiment and sure enough—when she cracked the egg on the sidewalk—it started to cook!!!

She was so delighted with the result—but knew she needed to get back home.  However she was very hot, thirsty and dirty. She saw a water fountain in the park—and even though she saw the sign that said ‘Whites Only”, she thought that referred to white socks.  Since she had her white socks on, she thought it was alright to drink from that water fountain.

However, it wasn’t.  A mean-looking white man saw her and started saying very, very rude things to her about drinking from a “Whites Only” water fountain.  A crowd gathered to watch. Then quietly, a black woman stepped forward from the crowd, took off her shoes, and drank from the fountain—just to defy that white man. Another and another and yet, another black person came forward to drink, sending the man into a rage.

Then that mysterious neighbor showed up. He was kind to the young girl (Grandma) and seemed to put a magic (and not-so-nice) spell on the mean-looking white man.  No one ever saw the white man after that day and the “Whites Only” sign was soon taken off the water fountain.

A favorite line from the story:
“But then other black folk started coming over, removing their shoes and drinking from the fountain. They had on clean-looking green socks and yellow socks and red sock and blue socks.  Of course, the big man with the bandanna kept right on yelling. His face got red as fire. He was snorting through his nose like a bull does when it’s gon’ charge."

Suggested Uses as a Mentor Text
Book Genre: Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction
Reading Workshop strategies: Analyzing, Synthesizing, Inferring
Writing Workshop genre: Narrative, Small moment, Memoir , Strong lead,Elaboration
Curricular Themes: US History, Civil Rights, Racism, Prejudice, 
Diversity/We Need Diverse Books

Evelyn Coleman's website:

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