Author Melvia Miller presents this novel:
Middletown Roots-- by Melvia F. Miller
Melvia Miller has received many awards and honors, including being named to "Who's Who in American Universities & Colleges." She is an educator, historian and eco-psychologist, who has specialized in using creative teaching methods in the areas of: Cultural Diversity, Black History, Ecology, and language arts. She has written this delightful novel, which offers a unique insight into the lives of descendants of ex-slaves in the United States.
THE FOLLOWING INFO IS A....SNEAK PEEK at a portion of the chapters from the books:
In 1924 and 1925 studies were conducted in the small industrial city that later became well-known as “Middletown USA.” This was one of the first scholarly works to attempt to describe the culture and social environment of a typical American city. Helen and Robert Lynd published 2 books, based on these studies, titled: “Middletown” (1929) and “Middletown in Transition” (1937).
Those authors described Middletown as a “good specimen of American culture…” Middletown is a small city in eastern Indiana on the White River, 54 miles northeast of Indianapolis, IN. They described the Teacher’s College as one that would grow into a major University.
Forty years later, another group of scholars went back to Middletown and repeated additional studies. They wrote a book titled: Middletown Families (1982). These books discuss the following topics in scholarly ways:
Religion and the Family
The class system
Sex and Marriage
However, little mention is given to the conditions or life-style of the African-American citizens who live in Middletown. The only major comment made in all of these studies states, “There is a surplus of black children and a deficit of young black adults….” This factor was attributed to the lack of decent jobs available to Blacks in Middletown.
Unfortunately these books do not examine the plight, history or conditions of Middletown’s Black population. During the time that the Lynds conducted their studies, this city’s government was operated by the Ku Klux Klan. Middletown was plagued by racial turmoil, protests, and segregation. The African-Americans who lived in Middletown often called it "Dodge City"---likening it to the famous cowboy TV show. The stories are true…but some of the names have been changed to protect the innocent.
MANY BOOKS HAVE BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT MIDDLETOWN--BUT NONE LIKE THIS ONE !
PICTURE IT----- Middletown, Indiana 1948:
Our story begins in 1948 in Middletown, Indiana on a cold December evening when an African-American baby girl was born to Mr. & Mrs. Melanin Milner. They named their baby girl Melina. Melanin and Liza Milner were the descendants of run-away slaves out of Kentucky. Her great-grandparents had escaped from a plantation and lived with Indians. This couple lived on the side of town called: “Brownly”---where all Black people were forced to live.
Most White people lived on one side of town and any other minority groups (e.g.--Mexicans, Africans, Puerto Ricans, etc.) were permitted to live only in certain sectors. Racial segregation was the rule of law in those days. This town became known as “Dodge City.” Middletown was a wild city in those days--filled with gamblers, gangsters, prostitution, and worse!! Crime flourished in Middletown. Mobsters—such as Dillinger--- were known to be active or heavily invested in Middletown’s ‘red light district.’
For the most part---the Black folks in Middletown operated their own stores, barber shops, restaurants, cleaners, and other businesses. There were several African-American churches in Middletown...
The city government for Middletown was run by the Ku Klux Klan and the area was known to be strong-hold for racist activities, lynchings, shoot-outs, boot-leg liquor, and worse. Grandpa and Grandma Milner lived only a few blocks away and were farmers who did "share-cropping" on land owned by a White man, because the law did not permit Black people to own a farm in Indiana then. So, he farmed for another man, and was able to bring home plenty of fresh food for his own family.
Melina grew up on the poor black side of town. The houses there were basically little wooden boxes…nothing fancy. Middletown is in the midst of the ‘cornbelt’ and there were plenty of fields of vegetables…---such as tomatoes, lettuce and corn---growing all around Whitely.
Most of the Black people grew their own vegetables and ate the fruits from the trees. And many of them traded foods with each other. Food was often used as "money" between neighbors in order to trade for other objects that they wanted.
Gardens, food and plants were a significant influence in her life from the time she was a very young girl. She enjoyed gardening in her own back yard.
One of the most popular forms of entertainment was to go fishing in "Clear River." Melina and her entire family often packed up a lunch, chairs and poles and spent most of the day on the river bank. The river was so clear that they could look straight into the water and see the bottom, see fish and other creatures which swam in the river. Upon their return home, their father would clean the fish and cook them for a delicious dinner. Fish was one of Melina's favorite foods.
Sometimes, she and her friends would ride on their bikes to the river and spend nearly all day there, listening to a radio, snacking and talking. The attraction of being directly in contact with plants, water, fish, nature, greenery, and sunshine was very pleasurable. In fact, it was a great escape from the harsh realities that they faced in a cold-hearted society.
One day when Melina was about 14 years old, she was there on the river bank with her sister, brother and father Melanin--- when several loud-mouth rednecks drove up to them in a small raggedy pick-up truck. One of the white men yelled in a sarcastic tone,..."Did you niggers catch anything today?"
Well, Melanin was not in the mood for this crap...so he pulled out a small deringer that he kept in his belt and shot in the air above the white men's heads. They scattered like roaches when they saw the gun. Melanin shouted back at them..."catch this!!!"
They were very accustomed to being harassed and ridiculed by white people in Middletown.
Whenever incidents like this occurred (which was often)--Melina would recall fond memories of times that she and her friends had the chance to mess up some of the ridiculous offensive racist symbols, posters, souvenirs, statuettes, and such. Whenever they had the chance to get away with it, they would bust up one of those insulting black statues or "coon" images....or paint over it. The best part of this activity was getting away scott free---throwing paint on or busting up one of these statues without capture.
COPYRIGHT BY MELVIA F. MILLER * 304 pages *
MELVIA MILLER IS THE AUTHOR OF THESE ADVENTURES