napa valley wine train


Dammit! Jim Crow is supposed to be moribund! He ain't close to dead. He's alive and kickin' in Northern California's wine country.

Jim Crow never did reside exclusively in the South. From the decade of the 1930s, throughout the rest of the last century, this writer ran into him all over the United States proper, as well as the extra-continental territories – wherever was flown the Stars and Stripes. Jim Crow is not static; he is very flexible. He could be described as a changeling. Depending upon circumstances, Jim Crow can adapt his sex, personality, attire or any other factor about him, to fit the moment. For the case at hand, he takes the form of an officious female maître d' on a wine-sipping train tour through California's Napa Valley.

Last Saturday, a book-reading club, consisting of eleven African American ladies, summarily was ejected from a Napa Valley wine train – supposedly for excessive joviality. This is not a group of ghetto floozies who of a sudden decided to invade the sanctity of a wine country rail cruise. These ladies, for more than three decades, have been together as, The Sisters on the Reading Edge. The leader of the group is an author in her own right. In a radio interview, she expressed their plight in a lucid and intellectually balanced manner. The group made reservations for the tour almost a year ago. Its presence and number were no surprise to the tour organizers. Apparently of surprise was the amount of melanin added to the tour mix.


The Sisters on the Reading Edge


According to the group's leader, reception on the train was in no way warm and welcoming. She said that seating was abrupt and not conducive to full and easy communication among the group. Even before the serving of wine began, the group was cautioned to abate the level of their intercommunication. The purveyor of warnings was an intolerant, female maître d'. After several more interventions, she informed the group that they were to be summarily ejected from the train. In the meantime, the rest of the tour group retired to another car for lunch.

At the station where they were put off the train, instead of leaving from the near exit, wherein they boarded, ignominiously, they were marched through several cars, in perp-walk fashion. This considerably inconvenienced an octogenarian grandmother in the group, as well as another member who was using a cane. During their walk of shame, they were questioned by others of the tour group who had interacted with them in the other car. These questioners were shocked with the response. Upon deboarding, they were met by police officers who were amazed at the quality of the lawbreakers they had been summoned to intercept.

Although the group's fare was returned, in this writer's mind, the only emolument suitable in this case would be a civil court decision that would leave the offenders thoroughly impecunious!

***** ***** *****

Ol' Jim Crow appeared on a train.

He was a girl, and made it rain.

Even with less clout,

Still, he won't bug out.

He seems to thrive on spreading pain.

Curtis W. Long

Curtis W. Long

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