Rock City.  If you are a Southerner of a certain age, those words ring:   Fat Man’s Squeeze, See Seven States, Fairyland Caverns.  The mind’s eye produces red barns with black roofs and white letters,  day-long rocky paths bordered with rhododendron. Swinging bridges.  It was a fact of life.

It was there that I got my first inkling that there was something wrong with my world.  I was young.  Old enough to read, but still interested in every word in sight.  We’ll say I was 6, which might have made it 1953, though it might have been a little later.  Not much.

At the entrance was a ticket kiosk, faced with warm, yellow sandstone rocks.  It provided the only shade in the whole hot, concrete-paved area off the parking lot.

There were three water fountains on the back of that tan stone wall.  One was labeled “White”; another, “Colored”; and the third, a knee-high faucet with a metal bowl beneath it, “Dogs”.

I was six: I was Southern: I was still shocked.

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