Until she was thirteen, Hurston lived in the town of Eatonville, Florida. She describes it as "exclusively a colored town." Southern white people would pass through it on their horses on their way to Orlando. Northern white tourists would slowly drive through in cars.
Sitting "atop the gatepost," Hurston would wave and say a cheery hello to white people passing through the area. Sometimes they would stop, and she would dance for them or entertain them, and they would give her dimes. She had no feeling at this time of being a second class citizen around them.
Because the town was all Black, Hurston's childhood was not marred by racism. She did not grow up feeling that she was inferior to or vastly different from white people. She knew she was Black but did not understand the implications of that status in the larger society.
Eatonville comes across as backwater but friendly town of houses with front porches, swinging gates, and curtained windows. It seems to have offered Hurston a particularly safe environment in which to experience her early life. Hurston implies, but doesn't state, that this secure upbringing helped develop her optimism and resiliency, so that she could go out into the larger white-dominated society without feeling fearful or oppressed.