As a child, I attended John Muir Elementary in the Mount Baker area of Seattle. During the 50’s and early 60’s, the student body was about ninety percent Caucasian. That, of course, has changed drastically but may swing back as we seem to be entering the era of so called gentrification. I personally don’t like the term gentrification. It is apparently a term to smooth out the crass behavior and takeover of many inner city neighborhoods by rich investors. In order to tear down the historical richness and replace the traditional buildings with modern condominiums and businesses, the corporations like to use a nice word like gentrify.
In the early to mid-sixties I then attended Asa Mercer Middle School. This was an extraordinary change in my life and friendships as the demographics had a dramatic change. It turned out that both my middle school and high school, Franklin, were about one third each Asian American, African American, and Caucasian. To go from having maybe a single Japanese American classmate to literally hundreds of AA’s just blew me away. Although I generally don’t like to stereotype, the academic curve did in fact go up as these Asians were very smart and competitive in school work.
My best grade school pal was a Sansei guy named Michael Kimura. We were tight and also got in a few fist-a-cuffs with guys that we thought deserved a lesson on manners. Once in middle school, Michael and I drifted apart as our interests changed.
One of the many lifetime friends that came into my world was Edwin Lee. We played intramural sports and had too many friends in common to count. Ed and I went to high school together and he was a stellar student. In the summer of ’69, we traveled Europe together for two plus months. I cherish the days.
Edwin eventually worked for the city of San Francisco and became the greatest mayor they ever had. You can ask any of the previous mayors as they will testify to the same accomplishment. Ed was what we want politicians to be, hardworking and not self-serving. Although he is no longer with us, after dying of a heart attack during his second term, he remains an inspiration to me and thousands of people for what he did and stood for: a fair shake for all humans, no matter what walk of life.