“I grew up dressing like normal kid most of the time. But by age 4 (I’m 3 or 4 in this photo) I was riding horses, helping with chores and shooting a .22 rifle with my Dad’s close supervision on a small ranch he worked on the weekends near Copperas Cove, TX… Esther’s Chaparral Ranch. I never had a security blanket or teddy bear, but I was inseparable from the straw hat in the photo. I wore it all the time. My white and adoptive cowboy Dad thought that was just fine. However, my biological and very Korean mother who lived with my adoptive parents and me could not stand that beat up, dirty hat. The day came when she’d had enough of her Korean son dressing like a ‘country boy.’ My straw hat was defenseless with my Dad at work. One afternoon he came home to find me in tears, inconsolable. My mother had thrown my hat in the trash. It was trash day and the garbage truck had come and gone. My father was angry and yelled at her like I’d never before witnessed. It didn’t make me feel better. I’d checked the steel trash can in the front yard myself. I knew it was gone.” – Jimmy
Header image: map of Northeast Houston in 1922, courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.