By Judith Gordon
My fondest memories of my childhood are many, living in Magnolia Center, a small section in South Riverside. There were only six or seven Black families – the Hopkins, Stokes, Gordons, Andersons – and later on, the Hensons, Wileys, and Griers. My mother Dorothy Gordon use to say “I could see daddy get off the trolley car on Magnolia.” Everyone was treated like a family member. This small community looked after each other, we never locked our doors, there was no need.
The best memory I have about that time in my life, was Saturday’s fried chicken potluck, I was about 8 or 9 years old. Everyone would gather in the Stokes’ back yard and the men would kill the chickens, the mothers would dip the chickens into boiling water and each child would get a chicken to pluck and have a contest to see who could pick the chicken the cleanest. Afterwards, the chickens were taken to the kitchen and singed to remove the remaining feathers that had been missed. The mother would clean the insides, cut them into pieces, douse them with flour and seasoning then, put them into a big cast iron skillet filled with bacon renderings. To this day, I can’t say it was healthy, but it sure was the best chicken I ever had. Along with the chicken they served yams, macaroni and cheese, stringbeans, and corn.
There was also fresh fruit, nectarines, apricots, plums and a big berry patch – all you had to do was climb the trees and eat to your heart’s content.
My childhood was the best, it gave me a strong foundation. I lived in a healthy, secure atmosphere, full of love and respect.