This fable occurred back in the mists of time, before the Spanish discovered Hialeah.

Once upon a dark time during the 1960’s, the federal government imposed its narrow-minded views upon the collected states of the Union.  “All men were created equal” was the opinion disseminated across the land, even though almost two hundred years had passed since the country had adopted and ignored that slogan.  Now, according to the new laws, all men were to be treated equal, and some women as well.  This federal edict translated into a problem with the public swimming pools of Hialeah.

“If we have to open the city’s pools to the coloreds,” one councilman drawled, “then those folk’ll be swimming everywhere.”

“We’ve got to keep them in Seminola,” another added.  “Even if it means discontinuing bus routes through that part of the city.

“If you do that, how will all the maids, cooks and gardeners get to work?”

“I don’t know.  How about we put a surcharge on anyone using a pool out of their neighborhood?  We can check ID’s like we do at the library.”

There was some support for this idea throughout the chamber.

Amid the murmur, the great Mayor Myland stood up from his enormous council chair to speak.

“Gentlemen,” he said. “You overstep the bounds of civil servants.  It’s never a good idea to shun your voters, even on off years.  Cheating the coloreds and inconveniencing colored workers is only going to come back at you in the polls in November.  These are people just like you or me.  They deserve treatment that accords their status.  The feds want equal treatment.  They don’t want separate but equal.  Hell, we’ll give them better than equal.  We’ll drop the admission cost at the Seminola pool to just below the bus fare.  That way it simply won’t make good financial sense for those people to go swim anywhere else.  Why travel when you can swim in your own neighborhood and save enough jingle for a soda pop to boot?  And come election time, you got a bunch of happy coloreds with change in their pockets and smiles on their faces and a vote cast in the proper direction.”

The great Mayor’s genius was applauded and adopted with a unanimous show of support.

In this way, Hialeah avoided the scourge of interracial swimming pools for another decade when, as civilization progressed, the Cuban community began establishing itself, first in low-cost land areas like Seminola, then, through their industry and the preferences of the immigration laws, on to the middle class areas, and finally right into Hialeah’s very council chamber, replacing first one then a few councilmen, then all, then finally, as with the end of Camelot, the great Mayor, who was defeated soundly by a non-English-speaking majority and never heard from again.

Still, the great lesson of the Mayor’s insight, that kindness affects more than severity, stands to this day.

end

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