Frenemies By: Kevin Reilly Some kids had lots of friends, some had none. But for James William he had only one friend, the perfect friend, and the one he could do anything with. It was a beautiful sunny day in Little Rock that one Sunday afternoon. Every Sunday James would go out to his barn to milk his favorite cow Betsy. He lived on a 4 acre farm with a 2 bedroom ranch and a big red barn for the 19 animals his family owned. He heard the doors to the barn open and when he turned around he saw his mom walk in. "Honey,” said his mom shaking like there had just been a hurricane. "What?" James replied. "Red passed away this morning." "How?,” said James as he turned away from his jersey cow to look at his mom. "He had smallpox." "But what am I going to do? Red was my only friend!" “I know honey. You can always find new friends, it might just take a while. I have to go cook dinner, ok?" "Ok,” he said.
That's the question he asked himself ever since he heard the news. What was he going to do? Who else could be as perfect as a friend as Red was? He was walking down the street down to the corner where he would play handball with Red every afternoon. He was limited to a certain number of friend possibilities. He could never have a friend who was colored because his dad was very racist. There were 9 colored people who integrated into Little Rock Central High at the beginning of the school year. My life is over, I have no friends and there is nobody else that could be a good friend he thought to himself while throwing his handball up in the air and catching it. “Honey it’s dinner time,” his mom said. “Ok mom I'll be right there,” he said back. “Mom, Dad, what am I supposed to do without any friends?” James said scooping up a big forkful of spaghetti and shoving it in his mouth. “You’ll just have to find a new friend and they have to be white,” his dad said. “Why?” James replied. “Because I said so!” his dad said sternly. “Please dad.” “Fine, but if you do find a little colored friend and I find out that they are causing any trouble that will be the end of that friendship, do I have myself clear?” “Yes.”
When James had his friend Red in his life he never noticed that in the cafeteria colored people sat with colored people and whites sat with whites. But that is what he did notice the first day he went to school without Red. He was sitting alone at one of the 15 “white people” tables in the North part of the cafeteria. He was eating his vegetable soup when he suddenly felt some warm air on his neck. He turned around and saw his arch nemesis Doug Fister. Since the first grade Doug was always mean to James. Doug would always make fun of what James was wearing or doing. He was a 17 year old and he was white. Doug sat at a different table than James. Doug was also one of those bullys who uses words and rarely ever uses fists. One day at lunch Jefferson Thomas a colored 17 year old, who was one of the Little Rock Nine came over and asked James, “Hey, I was wondering if you wanted to come sit with my friends and I at our table?” His table was in the section of 5 tables in the South part of the cafeteria. “Uhhhhh, sure,” James said nervously but excited at the same time. Later that day James realized that Jefferson could be the best friend he had been waiting for! After school the next day James went outside to go see if Red wanted to play handball. Right before he was about to ring Red’s doorbell he realized that he had forgot that Red was no longer alive. James walked down the street, up his driveway and before he got into his garage he heard his name being called. He turned around and saw Jefferson running down the street.
“Hey James, want to come play handball? We need an extra player,” Jefferson said running out of breath. “Sure,” James said. James and Jefferson walked down the street until they reached the corner. James saw 8 other kids warming up for the game and was so happy to be able to play handball with some friends again. But most of all James was happy to have a new best friend.
Author’s Note Frenemies takes place in a city in Arkansas called Little Rock during segregation. It was one of the longest racial events that happened in America. Slavery ended in the 1860s but African-Americans still didn’t have the free life they wanted. Segregation started at the end of the Civil War in 1865. Segregation happened when slaves became free and whites in the South still saw the slaves as property, not real people. The whites believed that slaves shouldn’t have the same rights as them and shouldn’t be able to vote. To segregate means to separate or set apart from others or from the main body or group. During segregation it means the separation of blacks and whites. Like how black men and white men had different buses, water fountains, bathrooms, movie theaters etc. During segregation in the summer of 1957 Little Rock made plans to integrate their public schools. On September 23, 1957 schools resumed and at Little Rock Central High nine African-Americans, Gloria Ray, Terrance Roberts, Melba Pattillo, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Minnijean Brown, Jefferson Thomas, Carlotta Walls, Thelma Mothershed were escorted by policemen into back entrances of the school. This story was meant to show people that even though some people are white and some are black, they can still be friends and they can still live normal lives. Segregation should show people that it was dumb and never should have happened. People shouldn't judge others by the outside but by the inside.
Bibliography “Arkansas Map.” World Atlas. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2012. <http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/namerica/usstates/ar.htm>. This web site lets you search World Atlas for information. I used this site to see a picture of the bodies of water in Arkansas. Banting, Erinn. Civil Rights Movement. New York, NY: Weigi Publishers Inc., 2009. Print. In this book there are 27 different chapters about events that happened during the Civil Rights Movement. This book was helpful for me because there was a chapter about Little Rock Nine which is the topic that I am writing about for my Historical Fiction Short Story. “Jim Crow Laws: Arkansas.” Jim Crow History. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Feb. 2012. <http://www.jimcrowhistory.org/scripts/jimcrow/insidesouth.cgi?state=Arkansas>. This website showed all the Jim Crow Laws and when they were enforced. I used this website because I wanted to see the Jim Crow Laws that were enforced in 1957 and 1958. Little Rock Central High School 40th Anniversary. Craig Rains/Public Relations Inc., n.d. Web. 1 Feb. 2012. <http://www.centralhigh57.org>. This website was all about the order of the events that happened during the integration of Little Rock Central High School. I used this website to learn more about the events and history of the integration of Central High. “Natural Resources.” Arkansas Economic Development Commission. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2012. <http://arkansasedc.com/about-arkansas/natural-resources.aspx>. This web site is all about Arkansas, like natural resources. I used this web site because it gave me a whole list of different Natural Resources found in Arkansas. “1957: Arkansas.” As They Saw It. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. <http://astheysawit.com/61741957-arkansas.html>. This site was all about the information reguarding taxes, education, jobs, etc. in Arkansas in 1957. I used this site to find out what taxes were like in Arkansas in my time period of 1957. Pendergast, Tom, and Sara Pendergast. “Desegregating Education: Seperate and Unequal. American Decades 1950-1959. 2003. Print. This encyclopedia is pretty much the main events of the 1950s. This encyclopedia was helpful for me because it had a whole section about segregation.