By Lauriate Roly
Would you like to read a story about me? It’s true and has hardly ever been revealed to anyone.
Our newly bought clothes always needed alterations and adjustment, and Mrs. Allen, my mother’s good friend, was a great seamstress and expert on the sewing machine. An ancient Singer, which she and her husband managed to keep in working condition, and which when added to her supreme talent of tailoring and customizing, enabled her to earn a living by producing garments that would very convincingly appear to have been designed and created for her customers exclusively. She charged such reasonable rates for her recognized talent, but even those meager remunerations were essential to keeping her family going.
She was very often engaged in doing repairs or adjustments for my mother, who was her most devoted and encouraging friend. Our families became very close. We lived across the street from each other. The Allen children were among the neighborhood kids with whom we spent so much time together in sports and activities, where friendly neighborhood pals were automatically established.
The meticulously competent Mrs. Allen was married to Wilton Allen, a Jamaican gentleman . . . and very black. This was not well accepted by the residents on that very white street.
Her children were beautiful, some very dark and others, the lovely and enviable complexion of what at the time was recognized as mulatto. Her daughter, Cynthia, was about my age, and came to my house often because she was a very good friend of my sister. They were both in the same class.
All of us kids grew up together and we admired and always rooted for and favored and praised each other’s abilities, whether scholarly, or in sports or other school and neighborhood activities. I could never see enough of Cynthia. She was the world to me.
Ultimately, it became very obvious to my mother that I was deeply enamored of Cynthia, and we were growing up. Mrs. Allen also became aware that her beautiful young daughter was completely infatuated with Lauriate . . . a white boy.
The two ladies, understanding the kind of serious children we were and that this mutual and constant appreciation and admiration that these two kids had for each other, would not diminish over time They agreed that this was eventually destined to develop into another black and white affair; an absolutely unacceptable union at that time.
So the two great lady friends devised and arranged a solution.
Cynthia was sent back to Jamaica, and Lauriate was told that his most lovable friend was on vacation to visit her grandparents on the beautiful Caribbean island where she was born, and that she would return in a little while.
The idea did not sit well with me, but as such a youngster, with simply no choice in the matter, I grudgingly accepted it and became forced to patiently await her promised return. Which didn’t happen.
Years went by. I never forgot her and still believed that she would return.
I approached adulthood and found a job in a pharmaceutical company as the office boy in charge of making sure all the office workers, all girls, had all they needed to keep the place running smoothly. Any kind of problem that might occur in the place was part of my duty to attend to. I always made sure the typewriters were in first class running condition, never ran out of invoice forms, or letterheads, or envelopes, or postage stamps. Even to making sure the water bottles were always filled. A very important position for a young guy like me, and the pay was pretty good too for those times. I always had pocket money.
After starting in this new job, I noticed, that among the lovely girls in the office, there was a black girl who was so quiet, so reserved and stately, and quite lovely, that I automatically took a liking to her. If she told me she needed anything connected with performing her job, I unquestionably reserved complete priority to immediately and completely attend to her needs.
We just seemed to click. I found she had a kind of lingering and mysterious attachment to visions that kept appearing in thoughts I had from my very early childhood days.
Without much time passing, I asked her what her name was.
She didn’t have to tell me!
I knew it would be Cynthia.
This occurred between a long aisle of shelves, remote to the general office, that contained all the stationery needs of the company. She was on a ladder helping herself to what she needed. I appeared, and I was looking up at her while we spoke and realized who we were.
At his very moment, the President of out Company wandered into that somewhat dark aisle searching for something he needed and discovered us in a most unusual scenario. A lovely girl high on a ladder with a young guy looking up at her, apparently able to see under her skirt. “What’s going on here? What are you two doing here”?
Cynthia and I were both tearful and M. Harryman, the very sympathetic company president, recognized that this wasn’t some sort of sleazy incident in the daily goings-on that sometimes occur in a workplace.
I decided to tell him our story.
He knew about our backgrounds and completely understood and sympathized with our amicable situation of reunion and, being such a kind and gentlemanly individual, led us to his stately office where he said he would like to have us join him and his wife for dinner at his private club that evening.
It turned out to be a lovely meeting.
Cynthia and I were ever so happy about how things turned out.
Ultimately, she returned to Jamaica, married a fine man and has raised a lovely set of girls just like Cynthia. I went on to other things, but will never forget this very special and lovely friend.
Born in Montreal, Lauriate is bilingual; his mother a Geordie from Newcastle on Tyne, his father a French Canadian Quebecer. Lauriate has traveled widely and has lived in Europe. His involvements are primarily of a creative nature focused on Music, Graphic and Literary Arts in the communications fields of Advertising and phases of the Entertainment business through television and film production.