Once, We Were Colored
This is one woman’s story.
I really need to release my historicals (that also feature romance), so that’s what I’m fiddin’ to do 🙂
I enjoy writing love stories. But I also enjoy crafting historical fiction and Scifi featuring leads of color.
A historical romance that’s already been released on Amazon.com is JUKEBOX:
THIS EBOOK WILL BE RELEASED IN
As a child star David Latimore had a winsome, bucktoothed grin and expressive, molasses brown eyes. His film debut was in a musical feature when he was seven, around 1941, just after World War II broke out. The tiny angel costume he wore looked more like a white nightgown with a bent coat hanger stuck up his back with feathers glued to it. The white sparkles they’d given him to toss around always made his nose itch. “Saints and Sinners” was a Vanguard studio rip-off of “Cabin in the Sky” and MGM’s “Green Pastures.” But “Saints and Sinners” proved to be such a money maker that a couple of songs from the film score had been top forty hits.
David remembered a huge sound stage that looked sorta like a big ammunition shed or maybe an airplane hangar. It was all steel, stretched twice as long and wide as a football field and had not one window. It was nothing but a soundproof steam room, making him and all the other baby angels sweat so bad they kept missing their cues due to the heat. Their tin foil halo’s wilted and a couple of the kids even nodded off to sleep laying on top of the cotton clouds that were supposed to represent Heaven, colored style. What he liked best about the whole ordeal was the harness that kept him up in the air and that joyous feeling of defying gravity when he’d swing wildly back and forth in between takes, ignoring the threats of several stagehands below. He’d learned to tap dance by watching the footwork of a limber duo named ‘Dizzy and Dusty” and he even got to smoke his first cigar thanks to a baby angel who was really a midget. He got his first crush on a young actress named Regina Copeland. Regina Copeland. How could he ever forget her? Regina had a honey dipped complexion, smoky eyes and burgundy locks of baby fine hair that she wore upswept and pinned to the nape of her neck. All the fellas used to whistle when she’d walk by with her low waist and shapely legs. Regina was the first woman he’d ever met that was more ambitious and conniving than his aunt.
At seven years of age he was a card carrying member of the Screen Actors Guild because his aunt had her friends pull some strings. Only it was strange, since Honi didn’t really have any friends. Oh, she had acquaintances or business associates as she called them. She had admirers, male and female, white and black. She had lovers. Men loved his aunt. But she didn’t trust no other colored performers because she was paranoid and jealous at times.
He figured what Honi’s admirers really liked was what they saw on screen. Only she really wasn’t like that. Black folks wanted to shake her hand and say how proud they were of her. White folks wanted more. White folks wanted her to take pictures with them and act all folksy and be feisty around ‘em like she did on film. She got to hold and kiss on white babies and get invited to parties over people’s mansions like Greta Garbo’s and Gary Cooper’s, ‘cause that was how popular she was with all the big name stars. But unlike the big white stars his aunt was always in character. All the colored actors were. Whenever they went to a party they were given a tray and told to mingle with the guests, but only as servants. David would watch how Honi worked the crowd with another older colored actor named Ben Curry. They’d give out a drink and then she would say some funny off color joke or Ben would do a soft shoe routine. Sometimes Ben got to recite a line or two from Hamlet or some other Broadway play, and people’s eyes would get all misty and they’d act real sad about him being colored, because according to them that was the only thing holding him back. That’s why most colored stars hated going to those parties. It really wasn’t no fun for them since they still had to work. But he did learn things at those parties. He learned things like, well, that white people come in all different shades too, just like coloreds did. And he even saw some people he thought were light skinned blacks only to be told that they were Latin or Hungarian. Sure looked colored to him. He also got a chance to meet important white people, especially if he performed good. Ben would place him on top of the piano and he’d tap dance, then him and his aunt would trade a few jokes. At the really big parties every fella wore a tux, every dame a gown. It was at one of the real big parties that he met the money man. The money man was the guy who kept the studio running, the pictures financed and the paychecks good. The money man owned several after hour joints in addition to a bunch of legitimate businesses on the side. “Dat’s the money man” was all Ben would say when David pestered him with questions about the guy. The money man’s skin was as colorless as the vodka he always drank and cracked with age, like old linoleum on a kitchen floor. His eyes were blue, not startling blue like a movie star’s but cold and impersonal, like the sterling silver ring he wore. He had a single eyebrow that stretched across both eyes, a pink line where his mouth shoulda been and was nearly bald, with a small tuff of white blonde hair slicked over his baldness as if that was enough to fool people. When he talked a thin film of foam appeared in each corner of his mouth but no one seemed to notice. He was real short too, only no one seemed to notice that either. Nope. . .they were just always asking him if he needed another drink or what else they could do for him. Glamorous women made a point to stop over and kiss him, not even caring if the foam got on them. It kinda felt good to see white people acting scared and tripping all over themselves just like they was colored. The money man was also arrogant in a oddly quiet way and condescending not only to the ladies but to the men as well. When he talked to the women his hands would roam over their bodies as if it was as natural a thing to do as the conversation he was having. It didn’t make sense that among all the beauty, all the wealth and all the power, this harmless looking little man was the boss. There was something sinister about the way he’d crook his head when he turned his attention on a person and those dull blue eyes would size them up. Every gesture meant something. One finger pointed up meant be quiet. A half smile meant he was bored. Silence and a cough meant he was thinking, cooking up some way you could be of use to him. The money man knew David watched him, and he watched David. The money man watched him all during his stay at Vanguard Studios.
*The original Screen Actors Guild was founded in 1933.
So much research went into both these books.