|Don't let that mean lady tell you I'm not real!|
It was Christmas 1962 or '63. My dad was taking my brother and me down to his office in the Central District of Seattle. Rainier Avenue South ran through the neighborhood where most of the African-Americans lived. My dad referred to them as Negroes in those days. I never heard him say the other "N" word. As we passed a corner storefront, we saw Santa Claus with red suit, white beard, and . . . dark skin.
"Dad!" I don't remember what else we said. I do remember my dad explaining that it was one of Santa's helpers. That made sense. It was the same line we got when we saw different Santas in different stores even if they all tended to look like us (skin-tone-wise, that is). Dad may or may not have explained more but my little brain understood that it made perfect sense for Santa's helper to be a Negro where all the Negro kids lived (1963).