Strong Women of the Bend
Jolie, Sylvia, and Sandy are good ladies and know they aren’t just some eye candy like ornamentation.
The 50’s and 60’s still had the culture mixed up as the beginnings of the Women’s Rights Movement started. Many man and women did not understand or like what was happening and changing as the roles of men and women in the home was tossed into the pot of social change and upheaval.
Jolie, Jesse’s sister in the hood of south central had a good father and strong, patient and loving mother in Ada. When her father is killed, she is shattered as any daughter would be. Jesse’s rage and hurt embraced her as well and hating white folks and especially the cops of the LAPD was almost unbearable. Jesse’s future track coach at USC was white and Jesse could be heard around the house saying he wouldn’t run for any white dude Honky. Ada would listen, but for just so much, and so long. Jolie picked up on this confusion and hatred and mimicked her brother. Even when her boyfriend was spoken of or his gang was that they or he may have had something to do with her father’s death, she would have none of it. “Bullshit” she would tell her friends who tried to calm her. But, as Jesse talked about his anger and confusion with his mother and the family Preacher he took a more centered role.
Jolie was good looking and smart. One day Jesse and her took a drive out to the coast, a place where Jolie could think, buy the ocean. It calmed her. Her interest in oceanography and the sea was not shared by her friends. A black women especially was “out of water” on that topic to her friends. But Jesse, with his growing faith became an anchor for her. He was her biggest fan and saw in her a strength and resolve which he encouraged more and more as they grew to adulthood. Jolie was not the typically bimbo babe, regardless of the color of her skin. She had a focus and maturity that she knew would get her out of her time of hatred, eventually. Ada as her mother knew this and would guide her along. Hell, what a great example. Her mom, who should just accept her fate as a domestic, and part time helper at the hospital. No, and no way for these ladies. They knew the strength of balance in being a smart person and a loving person, feminine and strong. “Balance and know who you are” is what Ada would tell her. “You can do anything you want Jolie, anything a man can do, while not leaving behind the good things a real women is and should be.”
Sylvia was the same. They crew up not knowing each other. Hector and the Barrio out in East LA was not a place a black man usually went to. Especially, as young teenagers in the 60’s. Once Hector and Jesse became friends in Boot Camp in the summer of ’69 that changed. Yes, Pete too has a sister, Janis, and she along with Sylvia and Jolie are strong ladies, who know the strength of being feminine and being just as smart, funny, and capable as anyone, regardless of how God made you, man or woman. Sylvia was a crack auto mechanic just like her cousin Elena for God sakes. How cool is that! And Janis, well, she would get straight A’s in courses like Physics and Chemistry, which pretty much put the guys on notice that although she had the requisite physical assets of one beautiful girl, she could be in any class room with anyone, man or beast! And yes, Sandy. Pete’s thoughts would bounce back from time to time, thinking of her as she took care of her sick mom, while going to night school at UCLA. She would not be deterred as well. She would get her degree someday, and then who knows. The world would know and she knew that for sure.
Each knew. The Bend is not the end of the road.