Web Counters
counterGo to Publications CollectionGo to Graphics CollectionsGo to Commentary Collectionsrelative Go to Concerning the PotterverseGo to The Potterverse UNhallowedhen

Way Up Over the Wrong Rainbow:

Soon after he married Ida, Dad sold the house in Monterey Park and put the takings into the apartment house that she owned and managed in Inglewood. Within a year they sold that building and bought a much bigger one on the next block.

It was quite a nice place, if you happen to admire generic dingbat stucco apartment houses from the late ’50s-mid ’60s. The only fly in the ointment was that Ida was based in the City of Inglewood. The racial balance of Inglewood, even back in 1969 was not such as would have gone over well with my father. In fact it went over about as well as the Maltese Foreman had.

Dad was over 70 by the time he landed in Inglewood, so he and Ida only held onto the apartment house for a handful of years. The maintenance of a 20+ unit building eventually got to be a bit much for him.

Since real estate prices were still spiraling upwards, by the time they sold out and bought their condo in Arcadia they made enough of a profit to be able to not worry about housing for the rest of their projected futures.

They both turned out to be in for a bit of a surprise since by then the racial balance of Arcadia was on the turn, too. Arcadia’s racial balance, however, was steadily drifting toward Asian. Dad may not have regarded Asians as being quite “like us”, but they were not familiar enough to him to register anywhere in particular on his usual scales for the evaluation of comparative human worth, which was, of course, strictly based on color.

Evidently there had been no Asians anywhere near the farm in Illinois where he had grown up and the pervading opinions of his peers had never taken them into any kind of account. I suspect that it never occurred to any of those losers that they would ever be called upon to deal with Asians.

Ida turned out to be in for a lot of rude surprises where it came to the everyday realities of living with my father. In the main, the racial balance of Inglewood (or Arcadia) was one of the less obtrusive ones.

Rather more dismaying to her than his racial opinions (which, as a Midwestern farm girl herself, were nothing she hadn’t heard before) was Dad’s staggeringly high capacity for idleness. Being a stork rather than a log, and very big on Clubs and Service Organizations herself, she set about to pressure him into joining something (anything!), but I rather doubt that The John Birch Society was quite what she had in mind.

Dad never actually did anything with the Birchers and dropped out pretty quickly, which was probably no loss on either side. Ida ought to have considered herself lucky. The last time he’d let himself be peer-pressured into an organization had been enough to make the Birchers look quite benign.

Not that I suppose he ever did anything much with that lot either, apart from getting together with a pack of other farm boys in a hall or something back in Vandalia from time to time to mouth deplorable sentiments and a great deal of pernicious nastiness. Frankly, I suspect he was too much of a coward to have actually risked life, limb and general embarrassment to have done much stumbling over a sheet in the dark.

Later, when Fred Astaire’s last dancing role was announced, in ‘Finnian’s Rainbow’, I learned that Dad and Ida were planning to see it. Since my Dad had showed virtually no interest in films during the whole time I was growing up, I had no difficulty in figuring out where the guiding impulse behind that particular outing came from.

(Lousy show if you ask me. Or at least the original stage version was. Poorly written, more controversy than substance. Misfired in pretty much all directions. A pity. Don't know whether the film was any better, but at least it had Fred Astaire.)

I warned Ida that they should probably give it a pass, he’d hate it. She didn’t believe me. They went, they saw, he hated it. He didn’t shut up about it for months, either.

Can’t say I didn’t warn her.

Never take an ex-Klansman to see Finnian’s Rainbow. Not even if Fred Astaire is staring in it.