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The Autobiography of Lynn Markovich Bryant

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From Chapter 7    Adopting Black Beauty  
But probably my most comical incident with beauty habits has to be with my new acquaintance and encounter with the jar of Nadinola. Ninety-nine point 99.99999% of white people, I am positive, have no idea what Nadinola is. And even young black people today remain among the very same statistical data. Not that it’s a tremendously big deal for a white person to know what Nadinola is, unless they try to apply it to their skin.
Well, being a young teenager at the time of this occurrence, naturally I was battling the #1 battle that most teenagers of any color fight, acne or what we simply called “bumps.” So having a terrible case of acne, I was desperate. I tried the alcohol, the Clearasil, the Noxema— you name it! All to no avail. So when I came across a jar of Nadinola next to the jar of Noxema on my stepsister’s vanity, I thought let’s try this. ...

From Chapter 18     "Momma, I Hate White People"
This Fence is a firm reality. Just watch children in general, as they follow their progression of schooling. Oh now in elementary they may all play together. Most of them don’t even know or care what color their little friend is. Then before elementary school is completed, they now refer to this one and that one as black or white. And yes they may still have their little outings and sleepovers together, but they are beginning this fitting in with the Fence System. By middle school you begin to see the separation. And by high school the System has succeeded. All the white kids now hang exclusively together. All the black kids now hang together. With only a few minor exceptions of those who can think for themselves and refuse to buy into the System. This is not a hunch of mine, but unfortunately a stark reality. If you say I’m wrong, don’t kid yourself. Just look into any school cafeteria in the country. ...

From Chapter 9    My Grammy and Bread Puddin'
We would sit in her warm and darkened living room, soaking in the warmth of her old-timey brick fireplace. And in the corner behind the front door always stood a cane that I remember Grammy never using. (Story was that when her dear friend Nellie passed on she had left it there for Grammy.) And she’d sit and rock back and forth ever so softly in her blue vinyl upholstered rocking chair, and I’d be on the couch (she called it the “davenport”) which matched her chair in a blue vinyl. Of course it didn’t match anything else, but that wasn’t the point. Each and every inch of her living room and entire house was always neat as a pin. The saying, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” Grammy genuinely practiced. Grammy’s house simply emulated cleanliness. ...

From Chapter 24    Trials and Tribulations Abound
Ironically, now that I reflect again upon the details of the occurrence, I recall that it was actually in my Educational Supervision and Leadership class. During the course of those three-hour lectures, the professors would have a tendency and need to throw in a joke or two from time to time, to break up the monotony of the presentation. And so was the case on this night. The professor lapsed into one of his little stale epilogues of suppose-to-be humorous characters and events. Here he was recounting this rather lengthy and boring joke, and then came forth his grand finale of a punch line, “ . . . and that would be like finding a nigger in a wood pile!” And he, a professor of educational administration graduate school, and the class, fledglings in the field of educational supervision and leadership, busted out into a din of laughter and sheer rapture at the “indubitably and incredulously humorous wit” of this pathetically shaming occurrence. ..

From Chapter 3   The Baha'i Faith's Impact on my World
"Uncle Bob" and "Aunt Elizabeth" were Baha'is and became so close they were like another mom and dad to me. ... We had so many enjoyable times together, just talking, playing board games like Monopoly, and cooking and eating. Our favorite dish, which became a tradition for our families, was "Sloppy Joes." And I always found the Martins' dining table in the kitchen where we shared these meals to be fascinating. It was an all-glass tabletop, and made such an impression on me as a young child that the first piece of furniture I purchased as a newlywed, many years later, was a glass top table which we still eat at today. But it revives such fond memories of the the friendship my family shared with the Martin family. Sometimes I forget because it's so insignificant to me, but during the early 1960's, it was indeed rather significant. The Martin family happened to be a black family.
At the time, I took this multi-cultural experience for granted. The Baha'i Faith was always this way. With its beautiful mixture of people, I never thought it might actually be out of the ordinary at the time.

From Chapter 10     Exposure, Transformation, and Infusion into Soul
The other majorettes all had a lot of pity for me, and took me on as a little sister and an extremely challenging project, “Teaching the White Girl to Dance on Beat with Some Soul.” And they actually, I don’t know how, succeeded. They taught me how to dance, after a lot of patience, all the latest dances at the time. The “Cha Cha Cha,” the “Tighten Up,” even the “Four Corners" and all. For that was definitely a prerequisite for being a St. Helena majorette.

As you can see, Lynn's story bridges the usual barriers of age, sex, and gender. It has soul... touching the heart, the mind, and the funnybone.