Thrust into a cauldron of death threats, intimidation and fear, forced to move out of our home in the middle of the night, my husband and I were by great good fortune taken in and protected by a courageous and generous black community after his arrest in a protest march. A narrative of three years spent in Mobile, Alabama in the late 1960's, Alligators and Me Alabama 1966-1969 is the story of a woman's triumph that came by slogging through calamity after calamity. At the end of the road, I surprisingly found I had become an accidental activist formed in the crucible of the red hot fires of the Civil Rights Movement. Always believing my husband to be the hero, by retelling the tale for the memoir I finally gained an understanding that allows me to celebrate choices I made in navigating my own way through the alligators.
My childhood spent in Northern Ohio had left me clueless to the stark realities of racial divisions in the Deep South. After arriving in Mobile, my husband soon went from respected Pastor of a white Lutheran church to social pariah after being arrested in a march protesting lack of job opportunites for black people. His arrest impacted my life with more intensitiy than I had bargained for coming in the form of Ku Klux Klan retribution threats. Alligator-like intimidations pressured me into leaving my job as a social worker. I became a special education teacher in Bayou La Batre where I was the only white face in the segregated high school. My teaching strategies came to include excursions into semi-swampy areas around the school where my students and I scouted out actual alligator populations.
The account is filled with anger at my husband for what I perceived as his bombastic behavior related to the arrest, fear over our tenuous and terrifying life, and finally redemptive love growing out of extraordinary circumstances during the height of the 1960's civil rights era.
The year 2018 is the 50th anniversary of the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, brother of President John F. Kennedy. The recollection of my husband's arrest in 1968 puts this momentous year into deep personal focus. A catalyst in bringing back indelible memories for those who lived through these turbulent times, the book also might well be inspiration to the resistence movement today.