By IVY HERRON
When a "rogue miscreant" used a can of spray paint in a misguided attempt to write a racial slur on the road in front of Frances Dean's driveway of her future home on north Hoosier Street the evening of July 30, she wasn't angry.
"My family was angered by it, but I never got mad. You want to know the first thing I did when I saw that at the end of my driveway? I prayed for whomever did it," the smiling 67-year-old grandmother said Wednesday.
The widow's second reaction was to worry about the education of the perpetrator.
"You'd think if someone was going to take the time to put that word there, they'd have at least learned how to spell it first," she said. "I don't feel they are very educated in school or life."
Workers from Brazil City Street Department painted over the misspelled slur -- "niger" -- the same day a criminal mischief report was filed to the Brazil City Police Department.
As a deterrent to other copy-cat incidents, Police Chief Mark Loudermilk has confirmed extra patrols have been conducted in Frances' new neighborhood.
"It's a shame that in 2006 something like this has to happen in our community," said Loudermilk, who can't remember the last time a racially motivated crime occurred in the Brazil area. "This is initially a criminal mischief case, but we will continue to investigate further to develop a viable suspect and other charges."
It doesn't really matter if it was a man, woman or a child who spray painted her driveway, or even if they are caught. According to Frances, without a knowledge of the Lord it can be hard to understand there's no difference between the many skincolors of God's children.
"We're all equal in God's eyes," Frances said. "I was raised by a Christian mother and father to treat everybody like you want to be treated. I pray for that person to find the error of their ways."
Frances was 5 years old when her family moved to Putnam County in 1946 from Indianapolis. Proud to have grown up in the Greencastle area, she was the only black girl to graduate from the Greencastle High School in 1959.
"I went to class, participated in music and had white friends, and at no time was I treated any different," Frances said. "I never once was 'called out' of my name during that time, everyone was so nice to me."
After graduation, Frances moved and searched for work in Indianapolis. She found and fell in love with Albert Dean. They married two years later.
Frances and Albert, expecting the first of six children, returned to live on her parents' Greencastle farm in 1964. Often the only family of color in neighborhoods, the Deans enjoyed their relationship with their neighbors and the community in which they lived.
In the spring of 1999, shortly before moving to Texas, Albert and Frances had their first racial experience. A travel camper the couple owned was egged while parked next to their home.
"They must have used more than four dozen eggs, egg yolks and whites was all over our camper. (Albert) called me to come look at it, it was such a mess. The rogues should have used those eggs to make an omelet," Frances said. "But the oddest thing happened, a summer rain sprung up and just pelted that camper, washing the eggs away. When the sun came out again that camper was white as snow. (The rain and the eggs) cleaned it better than the car wash had."
Recently, after returning home from Texas to be near family after Albert's death, Frances' three sons -- all carpenters by trade -- were in the process of remodeling the mobile home she purchased as a "place of her own" when the spray painting incident occurred. Her family was angered by the shocking incident, and she did feel ill-at-ease at first, but when scores of neighbors stopped by her new home to welcome and apologize to her for the incident it reaffirmed her faith.
As much as the incident proved that hate still exists in 2006, it also proved there are wonderful, caring people throughout the county, according to Frances.
"So many people have made it a point to stop -- even in the grocery store they stop me -- and apologized for something they didn't have anything to do with. All those people that came by my house, we stood around in my yard and visited until dark," she said. "I had so many people ask me to attend their church, I'm going to be busy for quite a while visiting all of them."
Believing that good things can come from bad experiences, Frances believes a discussion about racisim in the community is a good thing.
"You could say I'm kind of unique. I've only experienced racisim twice in my 65 years," Frances said. "Shame that both times was while I was living in Brazil. I plan on living here, this is, and will be, my home. I'm happy to be here."