Addy's little sister is pestering Addy, tapping her each time she says her name. Addy mentally compares her to a woodpecker. She is not in the mood to play with Esther, so she ignores her and looks out the open window of the train they are on. She, Esther, and Momma are heading to Cape Island, New Jersey for the Fourth of July. Addy has always wanted to ride a train  and is enjoying the ride. She had thought she would be spending the fourth with her brother Sam watching fireworks at the harbor; however, Momma had surprised her with news of the trip. Poppa is currently working on a hotel for the rail road and was able to obtain passes to allow the family to visit. Momma has made Addy and Esther new dresses for the trip and Addy has a grown up hair style; her mother has curled her hair on paper rollers to give her ringlets. Addy plays with them a bit near the open window. Addy's mother closes the window next to them, saying that the wind will whip Addy's curls out. Addy is sure that with the amount of curling wax and lard that her curls can outlast a hurricane, but she doesn't argue and only asks to crack the window a bit to avoid it getting stuffy inside. Momma allows the window to be opened a crack and gives Esther and Addy their lunches of meat pies. Addy says she is too excited to eat; Esther mimics her, but eats her food anyways. Addy says that part of her wishes the trip was slower so she could see everything, but part of her wishes that the trip was quicker so she could get to Poppa sooner, and she asks Momma if she has ever felt that way. Momma says she hasn't as there have been places she wanted to rush to, but others she hasn't cared if she reached then til "June-vember." Addy says there is no such month and Momma says that she'll understand later on. Addy hopes they arrive soon and lets herself daydream about the trip. She dreams of clear skies and staying in a grand hotel; while this is not what will be happening as the family will be staying at her father's campsite, she cherishes the dream anyways.
When the train arrives, Addy is the first to see Poppa in his Sunday best. Addy runs to him and he jokingly asks where his other little girl is; he left two in Philadelphia but this one looks all grown up. Addy giggles that Poppa knows who she is. They go back to get Momma, Esther, and the bags. Poppa was able to obtain his boss's wagon to carry them to the camp site but wants to have the family stop for a bit before camp. He wants to give them a taste of the good life and so stop in at the Banneker House, a fancy black guest house, for ice cream. Addy pleads with Momma as Momma wanted to go the camp and set up supper. Momma decides that they may sit a spell before they go to camp. The Banneker house is lovely, and Addy savors her ice cream. As they are finishing she tells Poppa that there is a colored ice cream store opening in Philadelphia that the whole family can go to when Poppa is back home. Poppa agrees and says that it's good that colored people are opening their own places. Addy is thoughtful for a moment, then says that Reconstruction is supposed to bring the whole country together but whites and colors are still having separate places and asks why. Poppa says he doesn’t know, and that maybe only God does.
Addy can see the hotel Poppa is working on; the campsite is a little further down from the site between the hotel and the seashore. The men are staying in basic lean-tos and there is an outdoor kitchen and a privy. Poppa has built the family a lean-to further away from the camp to give them privacy. Addy changes into her work dress to go with Poppa to check the rabbit traps he has set. She has not been in the woods since running away from the plantation and forgot how much she missed them; being outdoors is much different than city life in Philadelphia. The first two traps are not sprung but the next two have rabbits and Addy looks away as Poppa frees the bodies. There was very little time to trap back on the plantation and Addy was grateful for the food, but still felt sorry for the animals. At the last trap, the trap has been sprung but there is no rabbit. Poppa is sure his traps are being stolen from. Addy asks who and Poppa says he doesn’t know, but they must be hungry. Addy says whoever it is a thief that needs to set their own traps. Poppa says the may not have traps; the many new houses and hotels for rich tourists are pushing out the poorer people that live nearby. Addy thinks this isn't fair; Poppa says it isn't but it's the reason he has a job out here. There aren't enough jobs for everyone, though, and many poor whites resent the colored people who have come out for work as they feel "their" jobs are being taken. Addy thinks about this as she heads back to camp, wondering how people can be bitter in a pretty place such as this.
When she returns Momma sends her and Esther to fetch water. Esther runs ahead, picking dandelions and chasing a butterfly. At the river, she starts picking phlox as Addy fetches the water. Upstream, Addy sees a pair of white children—a boy about Esther's age and a girl about Addy's. They have red hair and dirty faces and the girl is fishing. Addy gathers her water and as she finishes she notices that the little boy has come over by them. He asks Esther her name. Addy gives Esther's name to the boy as Esther shyly holds out flowers. Before the little boy can take them, the girl has marched over. She yells at him for speaking to colored people, saying that he will get her in trouble. She snatches him away, swatting him on the bottom and making him cry. Addy protests that she didn't need to do that. The girl glares at Addy and tells her not to get out of place and to go back where she came from, then tells her brother to stop acting like a baby because heir mother would give him worse. Addy takes Esther's hand and takes her back through the woods, feeling sorry for the crying boy. Esther says that the other girl was bad; Addy agrees and hopes she doesn't catch any fish for dinner.
After dinner, Poppa goes to set traps again while Addy helps Momma clean up. As Addy gets ready for bed, she tells Momma what happened at the stream. Upset, she asks why the girl had to remind her she was colored the way she did. Momma says that she doesn't think the girl was right, but that since Addy is growing up she must remember to stay in her place. Addy angrily asks why there is a "place" anyways. Momma is quiet for a moment, then talks about how as a child, she played with the other white children on the plantation. However, as she got older things became different since she was a slave and they weren't. Addy says things have changed with the end of slavery, and Momma says they haven't changed very much so Addy should stay away from the girl. Whites and colored keep to themselves after a certain age—an age Addy has reached. She ties a headscarf on Addy's head; there are tears in her eyes as she says that she wishes things could be different, but it's not her place to change the world. She fusses about Addy's curls falling and Addy fusses that being a young lady is a lot of work. Momma asks her if she's like to be a baby like Esther again, and Addy thinks that maybe she would like to be as things are so much simpler for Esther. As she listens to the fireworks, she feels like it's more "June-vember" than the Fourth of July and snuggles close to Esther.
The next day Addy, Momma, and Esther pick blueberries to make a pie which takes all morning. Later, while the pie is cooling and Momma and Esther are napping, Addy goes to check Poppa's traps. She resolves to be brave about looking when she is getting them out of the traps. The first snare is empty; as Addy goes towards the next one, she hears a twig snap and peers to see the redheaded girl over the trap, taking the rabbit out of it. Addy yells at her that that's her rabbit; the girl startles, drops the rabbit, and runs. Addy picks up the rabbit and begins to chase the girl through the woods. The girl is faster than Addy as she knows where she is running. Addy is within arm's length when she trips over roots and falls hard, dropping the dead rabbit. She gets up and runs again but can't find the girl and doesn't know where she is. She hears voices and follows them down a narrow path that ends in a clearing, with a windowless cabin like the cabin Addy's family had back on the plantation. the little redheaded boy from yesterday is playing outside. The girl comes out on the other side of the clearing with a large log, looking tired. She sets the log on the stump and tries to chop it in half. Her blow knocks it to the ground instead of cutting it, and the same thing happens the second time. Before she can take a third swing, a woman appears at the door and yells that the girl can't do anything right, shoving her aside. She asks what the girl got for supper; the girls says nothing, and the woman hollers that's they all will eat that night and forces her to go get the baby. The girl steps away as her mother slices the log with one hit, then goes inside and gets a baby dressed in a dirty shift. Addy backs away from the clearing, then heads for Poppa's traps; she prays for forgiveness that she wished the little girl was hungry and that she can find the rabbit she lost. She searches until she finds the rabbit, then goes back to the clearing. no one is outside, and she leaves the dead rabbit on the stump. She thinks as she leaves that the girl may have never been a friend to her, but at least when she sees the rabbit she'll see that Addy wasn't an enemy.
After supper, Poppa goes back to work and Addy, Esther, and Momma go down to the sea nearby to bathe. Addy likes walking barefoot on the sand as she doesn't get to go barefoot in Philadelphia. She wades into the water up to her waist, enjoying the water, and turns back to face Momma and Esther. Momma has gotten her feet wet and is holding Esther. Addy reaches out for Esther, but Esther clings to Momma and Momma says Esther is scared. Addy says there is nothing to be scared of and goes in deeper. Momma says Addy has gone deep enough, and Addy says not to worry, the glides into the water for a few feet, feeling free under the water. When she comes up, Momma points out her curls are ruined and she is just not ready to be a young lady. Addy looks out at the ocean, the says she’d like to stay where she is, the goes back by herself into the sea—a place big enough for everyone.
Meet The Author
Connie Porter discusses briefly about her mother grew up in Alabama in the 1930s during segregation, how things began to change over the years, and how blacks—and she herself—were raised in a world where their "place" was where they chose to be in.
Looking Back: Cape Island in 1864
Discusses Cape Island (now know as Cape May) in the 1860s. Facts covered:
- The establishment of railroad service between Philadelphia and Cape Island, New Jersey during the summer of 1863.
- Segregation African Americans faced at railroad stations, where they had to wait outside on the platform rather than in a waiting room.
- The introduction of Pullman cars for wealthy travelers, and the cars Black passengers rode in the back of the train.
- Train travel considered as a special event for formal clothes and behavior, and the luggage passengers brought with them aboard.
- Rising popularity of sea bathing at Cape Island, with girls wearing either bathing dresses or any of their old clothes.
- The construction of more hotels, cottages and boarding houses to accommodate all of the extra people that visited Cape Island in 1866.
- The tall cottages for wealthy visitors that featured elaborate wooden decorations that became the characteristics of Victorian-styled homes.
- The many businesses and hotels that would only serve Whites, with only one hotel welcoming African Americans at Cape Island.
- The Banneker House, one of a few places that welcomed African Americans.
- Blacks creating their own places of recreation and amusements, with resort vacations not being common for most people until the turn of the twentieth century.
Activity: Make Homemade Ice Cream
A recipe and instructions are given for making homemade vanilla ice cream.
- While Sam and Sarah are seen on the Family and Friends Page, neither of them are seen in the story; Sam is only mentioned in passing.
- Master Stevens is mentioned in passing when Addy goes into the Banneker House and remarks that the place is much fancier than his house had been.
- Addy's swimming ability is seen again here; the last time Addy swam was in Meet Addy when she saved Momma.