My mother grew up with her mother, father, and two brothers in the panhandle of northern Texas. When my mother was a little girl, my grandfather was a station agent for the Santa Fe Railroad in a very small town. She told me the cowboys were "real good" to her and that they even sang her songs. Neighbors would travel miles and miles across the flat, windy terrain just to say "howdy."
Mother has always expected that everyone, everywhere, would be just as friendly as he could be.
Now I knew all about this when I invited her to join me in New York City, where at that time I was a young professional dancer. To tell you the truth, I was more than a little worried about her natural outgoing warmth, her innocence; for after all, this was New York City. I had learned not to stare at people on the subway, to keep moving always at a busy pace, and to mind my own business. My mother would just have to learn these things too. Not a bit! She didn't learn at all. She thought New York was the friendliest place she'd ever been.
"Why," she told me, "the people are so nice and helpful. Today when I took the subway the wrong direction and got off downtown instead of uptown, some people explained to me what I had done wrong, and they were nice enough to take me and put me on the right train."
My mother lost in the subways!
One evening coming home, she slipped on ice after climbing off a Broadway bus and fell back under the bus's wheel. She said that instantly there were eight friendly hands pulling her away from the bus and onto her feet. She was unhurt and thankful to her rescuers.
I relaxed some about my mother's stay in the big city until the night of the big blackout. I was at home in our 14th floor apartment when the lights went out; my mother was downtown. I stared out the window to see the now strange, darkened city. Where was my mother? No electricity, no subways, no traffic lights, and no elevators.
But I think that night was the highlight of my mother's stay in New York. She said it was just wonderful. She walked home the 37 blocks and met many happy, friendly people. There was full moon that night, so of course their way was lighted. She didn't even mind walking up the 14 flights to our candle-lit apartment.
My mother's experiences and her genuine good feelings about the people inour city finally began to open my eyes. She expeted tomeet goodness in people, and she did. Why, if people back home would ride dozens of miles just to say "howdy, " think of the advantage you have in a city where everyone lives so close together.