05/23/2014 12:10 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Memory Postcard: "The Day I Met Martin Luther King Jr... and Was Disappointed"


Glimpses into the lives of ordinary Americans.

Montgomery, Alabama (1956)

I started at the grocery when I was twelve, sweeping up out front. This was my first job and they paid me in candy (one handful per hour). I remember the rustle of the plastic wrappers as I dug into the loose candy bin, and the wonderful feeling that my small hand was being swallowed. I'd close my fist and come up with as much candy as I could... root beer barrels and butterscotches and red hots sticking out from between my fingers like sugary thorns. I know what you're thinking... what a fortune! And you're right. All my friends were jealous.

My boss was named Michael. He used to walk around with the newspaper rolled up in his back pocket. You could tell the thieves among us because they had ink stains on top of their hands.

One day a man came into the store; he was short, I remember thinking, and very well dressed. He bought only an apple.

"Do you know who that was?" Michael said, after the man had left.

"No idea," I confessed.

"That's the man who organized the bus thing."

I was disappointed. I thought maybe he was a ball player.

Memory Writer: Matthew Ross Smith, Age 32
Written for: Leonard, Age 69
Notes: The man who organized "the bus thing" was Martin Luther King Jr.

Memory Postcards are 250-500 word scenes, sent from lost moments in history. The program was developed as a way for people with Alzheimer's to send their memories through the mail, to their friends and family.