We Had to School Them

“They didn’t understand the whole concept of why you have to travel all the way to Gary just to get your hair cut.”

Hold a Conversation

In addition to the questions below, please see How to use the questions for reflection.

Clarification

  • Why does the speaker ask himself where to get a haircut when he first comes to campus?
  • What is the student experience of renting a wreck during the speaker’s sophomore year?
  • How is that experience interpreted according to the speaker?

Interpretation

  • Why do you think that was the interpretation?
  • What does the speaker mean by “we had to school them?”
  • Why do you think the speaker uses the word, “curious,” in his telling?

Implication

  • Which parts of this story would you want to narrate differently if you could rewrite the speaker’s experience?

Let us know how the conversation or self-reflection went. Email us or discuss the experience in our comment box.

Transcript for We Had to School Them

So when I first came to campus one of the problems that I experienced was where do you get a haircut? I made the mistake one time of letting someone in Valpo cut my hair and that was the last time I did it.

But when I first came to campus people told me, “Hey, we usually get together on the weekends. We pool our money, a couple of dollars, and we’d go Rent-A-Wreck,” and when they explained to me what that was, they said, “We rent the car so that we can go to Gary to get our hair cut,” because there’s no place in Valpo that you can get your hair cut for African American students.

So particularly funny story about the Rent-A-Wreck, it was my sophomore year in college, we had all decided that we were going to get together that weekend and rent a car. There were five of us that got together, two bucks each, to rent the car to drive back and forth. Well of that five,  some of us had classes one time, some of us had classes another time, so three of us went in the morning, two of us went in the afternoon, and then we returned the car later that day.

We got a call maybe about three weeks later from Chief Lloyd and from an officer who wanted us to come in and interview us. So immediately we all got kind of nervous as to you know why would the police department want to be interviewing us.

When we came in they sat us down in separate rooms, interviewed us at separate times. When they interviewed me, I remember vividly them asking me, “Why do you guys rent cars on the weekends?”

And I was again, that curiosity came up, why I am here to talk about why we rent a car, why I’m getting my haircut. Well, it turns out they had a rash of burglaries in the community, and after doing some investigating they figured out that a group of African American students on campus would rent cars, go to Gary, come back, and on that particular weekend we went twice so they thought we were fencing stolen property and taking it back and forth to Gary and that we did that on two occasions.

I found that curious because they didn’t understand the whole concept of why you have to travel all the way to Gary just to get your haircut, and anyone who knows cutting African American hair and cutting a Caucasian persons hair there’s differences to it. You can’t cut my hair with scissors and make it look decent. You just can’t. You have to use clippers and not everyone is skilled in using clippers. So we had to school them on the art of getting a haircut.

  • MC

    Similar experience when I pressed my hair in the dorm and they called the fire department to bust down my door. Luckily, I had on clothes at the time.

    • aschuet1

      Ah, you share a similar sense of humor about your experience!

      Thanks for sharing,
      Allison

  • mason plebanski

    I was surprised to see valpo was for African americans in the 60s

    • mason plebanski

      gogly eyes