An Only Slightly Fictionalized Memory
I worked a second summer at the brokerage house before college. Although I had won a $10,000 scholarship from my father’s union – more than enough for my college education at Boston University, I continued to save aggressively. When I went to BU I paid my own transportation. I bought my own clothes, a hi-fi, a hair dryer, and an iron.
I was a chemistry major, one of two Negro girls in my freshman calculus class of several hundred. Heather was pre-med. James McRae, later called Jimmy Mack after the Martha and the Vandella’s hit song, was an engineering major. I think there were a couple of other Black guys out of the 500 students in the lecture hall. I have forgotten them. Heather was Jamaican. I lost touch with her. I don’t know if she attained her professional goals. Jimmy Mack was from Harlem. He didn’t finish BU. I saw him decades later garbed in a dashiki and selling poetry on a street corner at a Harlem Street Festival. He is not an engineer.
I always had jobs during college. All white collar or academic. I worked at NASA and Prudential Insurance, I taught at Northeastern University. I taught summer school in Brooklyn. I worked on Wall Street some more. I was a day camp supervisor. I worked for an arts program. Over school breaks I did temporary clerical work. I had so many offers that I turned down enviable corporate internship opportunities. One year, while our classmates struggled to find summer employment, GE offered to employ me and provide me housing for the summer. The recruiter begged me to take the job. When I told him I was married, he said that they would hire my Psychology and Philosophy – major husband too. I taught pre-calculus to incoming freshmen that summer.
One time I told my mom that I had applied for a job in the cafeteria, she forbade me to take it. She said that she would work a second job if I needed the money. That’s when I took the work-study job at NASA. I come by my conceit about my career honestly. Garifuna people have a history and reputation around work. My ancestors refused to be enslaved and were banished from St Vincent’s Island because of it.
This story has gone far astray from where I was headed. It has served its purpose. I get my internal narrative about Black people and money. I see how I got to be me about money, clearing me for what is to come.
I made it all up.