Nesto likes to tell me horrifying stories of how he almost died. Then he’ll be all: Oh, I never told you that?
Like, nah. I would definitely remember a story where you almost died.
To date there have been three. In case you were wondering.
[And these are just the deployment stories. Not the “growing up as a black boy/teen/man in Los Angeles” stories]
[shudders]
I feel like you don’t FORGET stories where you almost died.
Or at least I don’t. I save them for BHFOTD!
Let’s get to it, shall we?

I hate pjs.

This is only important because Nesto is always complaining about wearing clothes around the house because what if somebody comes by and really honey, I DON’T CARE THEY SHOULD CALL FIRST because I’m empty nesting and apparently this means that I’m always throwing a no pants party at my house and none of you are invited so please call before you drop in or I’ll never hear the end of it.

BUT.

I love bacon. So if I’m gonna fry me up some bacon, I put on a robe* ‘cause bacon grease hurts like a mofo.
And I have never NOT regretted it when I got all cocky and decided I didn’t need protection.
[I feel like maybe there’s a joke there somewhere]
ANYWAYS. SO I’M WEARING MY RATTY OLD ROBE. And making bacon.
And I reach over the stove to grab something, and a tiny little string catches fire.
And because it’s early (and it is, I’m up before everyone in my house always), I’m not thinking.
And because I’m not thinking I just kinda shake my arm to put the fire out.
AND THEN MY WHOLE SLEEVE IS ON FIRE.
AND NOW I’M PANICKING AND SCREAMING AND RUNNING AROUND IN CIRCLES.
No. I did not stop drop and roll.
But I did finally have enough sense to take off my robe of death and stomp out the flames with my bunny slippers.
What does this have to do with the BHFOTD?
I’m glad you asked!
So last week I went on a field trip with Lexie.
To Olvera Street. For taquitos! And Margaritas!
And also for “Forgotten Founders: The Hidden African Ancestry of Los Angeles” Exhibit & Opening Reception
(My friends are fancy, guys. She gets invites to stuff)
My guess is that they weren’t so much FORGOTTEN as they were LET’S PRETEND THAT THIS WHOLE COUNTRY WASN’T BUILT ON THE BACKS OF BLACK PEOPLE, but whatever.
It was interesting (and free, Los Angeles people!)

One of the “forgotten” people in this exhibit was Sam Haskins.
Call Fireman Sam Haskins is the earliest known black man to work on the Los Angeles Fire Department. Born a slave in Virginia, Haskins came to Los Angeles sometime in 1880.
In 1892 Haskins worked as a “Call Fireman”, a paid position that was part time, filling in for members off sick or on vacation. Most call firemen eventually filled a permanent position when one became available.
Not only was Sam the first black firefighter, he was the first firefighter in the history of the city to die in the line of duty.

Strangely enough though, it wasn’t until 2002 that he was acknowledged/discovered as the first black member of the department
Fire Department documents have long recorded George Washington Bright as the first black member of the department. Bright was appointed as a volunteer in 1897 and, a month later, promoted to a full-time firefighter.
A crime analyst stumbled across Haskins while doing genealogy research for someone else who died in that same year. Up to that point, Haskins’ existence had been unknown
But the evidence found includes 1895 newspaper stories about Haskins’ death, but no photograph.

A ceremony was scheduled to commemorate Haskins’ death, and a headstone was placed on his grave at Evergreen Cemetery in Boyle Heights, where he was buried in 1895.
That marker didn’t just give a long-dead firefighter his due; it rewrote the history of the LAFD.

Anyways.
That’s today’s story folks. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend the exhibit. It’s small and kid friendly. It even has pages for coloring!
And when you’re done, stroll around Olvera Street. That’s ALWAYS fun! I’ve been going since I was a kid.
Only learn from my parent’s mistakes: those feather roach clips are NOT for your hair.

THE MORE YOU KNOW.

 

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