The morning of the march I was a pigtailed kid on a family trip with my family to D.C. It was the year before my father understood a martini. The year before he had that silly goatee and the year before he went down to Montgomery--to extract Stokely Carmichael out of jail, yet again, for backing out of his driveway.
Our Capital visit was coming to an end--my brother and I had Dennis the Menace comic books as our guide--(far better than our parents) and I didn't really know what was going on but I wanted to stay. There were crowds of people flowing in like human rivulets on the city. My mother was in a panic, "We have to get out of here!"
My mother was always ruled by fear, and that sometimes fogged in her sense of right. She'd seen the dogs and the water hoses opened up on peaceful people seeking freedom in the South, and she was being a lioness, I have to forgive her. But how, I wondered could she really want us to run from it. The march happening almost in front of us was a wrapped up present of fate. And we didn't stay around to pull the string.
The fights started. The panic. My father wanted to stay. I wanted to stay. My brother wanted to stay. I have no clue about my grandparents but, I'm sure they wanted out. Too many of their kind had been killed, it was see a crowd? Flee. In the end, there were three sullen Feirings facing off three scared Avrechs. It was the last battle my mother won in that marriage. With Phil dead, no one is here to tell me the details, but he never ever forgot not being there.
We hopped into the Buick, the first one. We left Washington when the air was a high buzz. An e-string pinging in the heat and the tension. I would forever regret sitting in traffic going north when instead, I could have heard magic.
For the Feiring household, it was the beginning of the slide.