Bauman’s hardware store

Letters / Opinions

A comment on FB by Kevin Akin where he remembers something he heard his father say regarding a shop in Riverside, California, where the family was living.

Kevin's father with family

I am going to present an aspect of Riverside memories that many have let lapse, to remind some of you that others may have different memories of old beloved places.

My father used to go to hardware stores occasionally to get parts and tools, and he tried to go to Bauman’s rather than Builder’s Emporium.

This was around the end of the 1950s. I clearly remember him explaining his choice to me in these terms: “I go here because I have to wait in line.” (We were behind a Black man and a Mexican-American man at the time he whispered this to me.)

“At Builder’s, they would make them wait off to the side, and take me first. Barney Bauman takes everybody in turn, and doesn’t make the non-whites wait until the whites are done.”

My father was a strong enemy of racism in all its forms, and did what he could in his quiet way to avoid encouraging racists. He taught a science class at the “Freedom School” for boycotting students on the first day of school in the fall of 1965, during the boycott that forced integration of Riverside’s public schools.

Builders Emporium badgeMy mother was a member of the committee that organized the boycott. They used to point out to me various forms of racist oppression of non-whites in Riverside, in housing, schooling, business, law enforcement, and government.

I suspect that most whites in Riverside never even noticed most of this, as they themselves were not inconvenienced.

See what memories a Builders Emporium sign can trigger?

Kevin Akin

Born in Riverside, California in 1950, and still lives there. A leader of California’s Peace and Freedom Party, the largest Socialist party in the United States. Father of 4, grandfather of 5.

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