This week on Senior Voices, we meet Jimmie Peacher the second. He was born in Hopkinsville, KY in 1952, and he came to Dayton to work at Wright-Patt in the 1980s. Jimmie talked with Dayton Metro Library volunteer interviewer, Cynthia Rush about his time in the Air Force, and how his understanding of prejudice changed after being stationed in New England.
Jimmie Peacher II: Now, when I went into the military, my first assignment was in Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts, right outside of Boston. So I was there for three years. It was enjoyable times up there.
I had to get used to Boston. The thing is, blacks do not go into south Boston. I had a Chief Master Sergeant, he asked the question: “How do you know when you’re in south Boston?” So they said: “When your front windshield cracks.”
Coming from the South, I was used to prejudice. But that was white and black prejudices. Get into Boston… altogether different. I saw… prejudiced white people against prejudiced white people. And that just freaked me. Because even if you were like, Catholic, versus... any Protestants and so forth, that was… now that was freaky.
And uh, being a military officer, you do more than just work military projects, you also work with the community. One thing -- one time, we had a couple of high schools come up on base, and I had to be an escort officer.
So, I was briefed, and one of the things I was briefed is: prepare yourself, because when the bus doors open, the black kids will come to you. They’re gonna look at you, because 1: they’ve never seen a black authority figure. And 2: they’re surrounded with hostility, and prejudices. And that happened! When the bus doors opened, the black kids just came running up to me and everything. And uh… it made me feel kinda good, but then again, they did it because... of the prejudices that’s there. But you know, that was the reality then, and now it’s probably still a reality to this day. So that was one of the most moving experiences I had.
This interview was edited by Community Voices producer Javis Heberling. Senior Voices is a collaboration between the Dayton Metro Library, Rebuilding Together Dayton, and WYSO. This series is made possible through the generous support of the Del Mar Healthcare Fund of the Dayton Foundation.