Les and Trudy: Redhead in San Francisco

Many of the wives were talking about the issues of the day: war, politics, and, inevitably, race.

Les and TrudyI don’t think I told this story before. If I have, in the words of an old friend of mine from England would often say, “Toughy buns.”

In the late 1960s, after about six mind-numbing years at IBM and a brief but productive stint at Opportunities for Broome, my father worked for Associated Building Contractors. I’m not quite sure what he did at ABC, but I imagine it had something to do with safety compliance, since that’s what he did at J.A. Jones after he moved to Charlotte, NC in 1974.

One of the perks of the job was the ability to travel. In 1969, give or take a year, mom and dad went out to San Francisco on a business trip of his. While the men did whatever, the “wives” would have lunch.

At one of these events, many of the wives were talking about the issues of the day: war, politics, and, inevitably, race. Some conversation took place on the latter topic, during which Mom listened thoughtfully, but said nothing. One of the wives, wanting to draw Mom into the discussion, said, “Trudy, what do think?”

Mom said, “Well, being a black woman…” Apparently, many jaws hit the table, perhaps one or two literally.

It is true that the red wig that she wore in the 1960s, which was even brighter in color than this one from the 1980s, made her skin appear even lighter. But she never identified as anything but a black woman.

My father tended to be the more visible, the more outgoing in the couple. So when there was a narrative in which SHE was the chief protagonist, mom enjoyed it immensely. She told this story more than once; there were a few anecdotes that she liked to repeat. I never asked him, but I have to think that dad was pleased that mom was out there, gathering information.

Les and Trudy Green were married on March 12, 1950, and were wed for more than 50 years, until my father died in August 2000.