11th 1965, August,a young black man was pulled over because he was driving recklessly near Watts California. The driver was Augus 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
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…..