Juanita Nelson

Some Scribblings

We spent four memorable months at Koinonia in 1957, from February to June. It was a time of great tension and we vividly remember:

Wally, pockets stuffed with unaccustomed hundred dollar bills, going far afield to purchase farm supplies to circumvent the boycott. Juanita insisting that seating in the car when going to town be non­segregated, though the fear was that a black woman sitting with a white man was provocative. The nine shootings into the community while we were there. The time Wally, raised in Arkansas and lover of hot weather, almost fainted while hoeing peanuts.

One indelible memory, one we often recall when talking about courage or the lack thereof, was the first night we stood watch under the bright lights across the road from the main living area. We had insisted on taking our turn even though the community protested that we, because of color, would be more vulnerable to assault than the rest. We sat in the car, ears and eyes attuned to trouble. We saw the headlights ofa car approaching. The car slowed as it neared, or so we imagined. And we brave volunteers slithered to the floor until the car had passed. We sheepishly looked at each other, then rose from the floor of the vehicle. We opened the door of the car, got out and stood under the lights, realizing that our only protection was to be out in the open. And that is how we stood our watch duty from then on --in the full glare of the lights so that passersby knew we were there, even if our knees were trembling.

I certainly remember selling Koinonia products in Philadelphia from the time we returned from Koinonia until 1969, when we left the city. In 1969 we sold nearly $10,000 in fruitcakes and pecans and candy. I think of that,especially in November since we opened the season with a pre-Thanksgiving open house at our home --always a warm and wonderful occasion with people actually thanking us for making the goodies available. Now, as subsistence farmers, we cannot afford to buy the products, but we still enjoy leafing through the catalogues.

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Koinonia is a Christian farm community founded in 1942 by Clarence Jordan,
author of the Cotton Patch Gospels. Birthplace of Habitat for Humanity

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