Vol. 14


Join the Fight for Freedom

1958; New Castle, Indiana; and Alabama, USA

My name is Freida Hasek, and I am fifteen years old. In 1958 my parents opened their first supermarket. The first time that my parents had a little extra money and they also had a lot of employees, they decided to take our family on our first vacation to Florida. We couldn’t be gone long. We drove from New Castle, Indiana, to Florida.

My parents took turns driving. We stopped only to eat and to go to the bathroom. There were not fast-food restaurants, only local restaurants. My dad didn’t want to wait that long, so we stopped only at Dairy Queens.

At one stop in Alabama I ordered my ice cream cone and went to the side of the Dairy Queen to get a drink from the outdoor drinking fountain. While I was drinking, a group of white people started yelling at my parents and me very horrible names. My parents were very frightened, like I was.

My dad grabbed me and threw me into our car and peeled his wheels, racing out of the parking lot as fast as he could. My mom was crying, and I was crying, and I could tell that my dad was very scared. I asked, “What’s wrong? What’s wrong? What happened? What did I do?”

My mom explained that I had gotten a drink from the “Negro Only” drinking fountain. Because we had a license plate from Indiana, the locals thought we were there to start trouble by drinking from the “Negro Only” drinking fountain. The truth was that I didn’t know there were different drinking fountains for whites and for blacks. I hadn’t read the sign above the fountain. My dad was telling my mom to look behind us to see if we were being followed, and he was telling me to be very quiet. We did not talk about this during the rest of the trip.

Back in Indiana my mother joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).1 She told me that if I told people she had done that, then the Ku Klux Klan (KKK)2 would burn down our stores. The KKK’s meeting spot was right down our road, so we had to be really careful. The KKK was as mean as a monster. If our stores would get burnt, my parents would be out of work. That would not be good, because my parents wouldn’t have a job and would not get more money.

This was a lesson that I learned — to always look above the drinking fountain.

Aiden Hasek, grandson of Freida; Missouri, USA


1. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is an organization that works to eliminate discrimination against African-Americans.

2. The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) is a secret organization that tries to limit the rights of minorities, especially African-Americans, often by using threats and violence.



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