The Flowering Vine: Stardate, 1981

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The sun has one kind of glory, while the moon and stars each have another kind. And even the stars differ from each other in their glory- 1 Corinthians 15:41 (NLT)

 

Today was a beautiful day!

A celebration of our 50th Wedding Anniversary, and all of our children and their children converged from everywhere to spend this occasion with us.

Of course, we missed the older boys who have all grown up and moved forward on their separate journeys.

Ronnie and Eric are in the military and Angelo is teaching out of state.

We know they would have been here if they could have.

But isn’t that what the whole thing is about?

You have your babies, hope and pray over them, raise them and give them wings to fly.

Bittersweet–that’s exactly what it is.

But we wouldn’t have it any other way.

We’ve been blessed and we know it.

All of our children are healthy and have gone on to do great things.

And when we look at the grandchildren we see bits and pieces of Ma Lula, Ma Allie, Ma Hallie, Pa Babe, Alberta, Aunt Elvy and, believe it or not, those Hatfields.

Quite naturally, they favor one another physically– but their individual glory differs just like the stars that sparkle and glimmer at night.

All in all, despite the hard times and hurt feelings, we did it!

We did exactly what God wanted and His grace has been our strength to see it through.

And now…

We rest.

“Good night Leroy.”

“Good night Annie.”

 

And thus ended the series…but not the story.  Both Ron and I will continue to weave tales about our family between the two blogs.

Thank you so much for all of your support and for reading “The Flowering Vine.”

Love and light to you all!

Lady G

😘💋

 

 

The Flowering Vine: My Inspiration

MOM
Mom

Even at the ripe old age of 55, I’ve not yet accomplished all that I hope to accomplish in life. I still have obstacles that I wish overcome and goals that I aim to attain; a mountain of education to climb; a valley of physical improvements to traverse; an ocean of spiritual maturity to cross, and although I’ve reached a chronological age somewhere past “middle”, I keep pushing; pressing my way through; forging my way on, because I know for a fact that it is never too late. I know this because I have a role model who has shown me that it is possible; that all things are possible if you just believe; believe in God and believe in yourself.

The following essay is written by “MY INSPIRATION” and Mom.

“It has been said that, ‘Freedom is an attitude of mind and heart that frees the soul to soar.’ A caged bird may be limited in where it can fly and what it can see, but it has the spirit to soar freely as it sings its sweet song. In its spirit, all physical limitations are overcome and its true nature springs forth untethered by constraints.

I graduated from T.V. McCoo High School in Eufaula, Alabama. This school was formerly known as Van Buren High School. The year was 1958; four years after “Brown versus The Board of Education”. The Supreme Court decision was popularly known as “Separate but Equal”. The System’s solution was a new, “Separate but Equal”, black high school. The school was built and completed in the middle of my Senior year. We had been set free! For me, this was a year of great revelation.

My class was the first graduating class from a school named after a black doctor. I was voted Miss Senior and rode in the town’s parade. I also performed an oration, (even though I was frightened to death). In the spring of that year, I graduated from a new high school but not without personal setbacks. My maternal grandmother’s demise was right around that time. In spite of this tragedy, this new God given opportunity had set me free. I truly believed that this new environment was going to set my spirit free to soar beyond boundaries and appearances; to step out on faith and do what God had created me to do.

My vision would one day be realized but not without trials. First, I had to have faith and believe that; “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And all of us….seeing the Glory of The Lord…is being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” -2 Corinthians 3:17-18. Due to financial conditions, I was unable to begin my academic flight immediately; there were detours along the way.

Within the unfolding story of my life, I created a family. So from the first flowering blossom to the last; from one side of the room to the other; from one end of the country to the opposite end, there was always God’s presence, teaching me and guiding me in the care of my family. My children grew up and created families of their own. This created the freedom for me to soar.  “Finally” I thought, “I can sing and soar freely; exploring the limits of the skies of my ambitions.

For a moment, I imagined that I was a time traveler; traveling back through the centuries until I was side-by-side with Michelangelo as he turned a block of stone into something magnificent; chipping away– never giving up until a masterpiece emerged. My aspiration was to get a college education and that’s was what I was going to do, regardless of how long it took.

Upon entering college, I realized how woefully unprepared I was. I was lacking the proper educational tools, and background to compete with the younger generation. I was a generation behind; “Separate but Equal” had failed me. But like Michelangelo, I did not give up. I worked on my own stone. I worked to create something magnificent to me; my masterpiece, for God had given me the ability to create.  It was not a Michelangelo, but something as simple as helping a child to learn his multiplication tables was equally awesome.

So, after many, many years and despite my lack of the proper tools; like knowing how to use a card catalogue, or how to operate a computer;  I received a degree in Professional Studies and a Master’s in Education. I taught school for twenty years and have been retired for ten. I am free! I did as the caged bird had done; I broke free and I soared. I no longer allow doubts and obstructions to keep my blessings from me.

To my children and grandchildren I say, “Soar as high as you can soar. Chip away at your stone, just as Michelangelo chipped away at his; create something magnificent and then sing your sweet song.”  The sky is the limit.

The Flowering Vine: More To The Story

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Our Grandparents:  Leroy and Annie aka ‘Mother’ with Lady G’s Son

 

I thought I’d take a second to thank all of the readers who have supported “The Flowering Vine Series.”

Both Ron and I really appreciate your kind comments about our family.

I inserted this picture of our Grandparents, Leroy (Daddy) and Annie (Mother) so that you can see them as they were in later years.

This picture was taken ONE MONTH prior to our Grandfather’s death.

Here’s the story behind the photo.

Basically, my son had just been born a few months prior and something urged me to go visit my Grandparents and take pictures.

While I can’t say that I had a premonition, I can say that I clearly remember my Grandfather saying to me, as he struggled with his cane to rise from his seat, “Whew Bay, Granddaddy can’t haaaardly get around no more.”

 

His rich baritone voice wrapped itself so closely around my heart and I tearfully responded, “I know Granddaddy….I know.”

The next month, he was gone.

Friends, I can’t tell you how much we all miss him.  He was one of the kindest people I have EVER known and he sincerely loved us all so much.

I distinctly remember how he would wait until EVERYBODY, including all of his children, their spouses and his grandchildren had eaten before he would eat.

He’d say, “Did everybody eat? Did everybody have enough?”

Then, he’d pile the leftovers along with some home grown tomatoes and peppers into his favorite bowl.

Boy let me tell you! That bowl of food looked so GOOOOOD!

God knows they don’t make them like our Granddaddy anymore.

Frankly, there is so much more that can be said about both of our Grandparents, and, as long as you’re interested, we hope to continue sharing those stories here.

Anyway, below is a family tree that includes some of the people that you all have come to know and love.

Because our story includes so much information about our biracial heritage, I decided to include a bit of a descriptor under each person’s name.

Note:  The term “mixed race” applies where there is some interracial heritage but the specifics are unknown.  “Recent mixed race” indicates that this person had at least one confirmed white parent.

On a related note, both Ron and I would like to offer a special thanks to two Caucasian cousins who were kind enough to share DNA and Family records in order to help us to confirm information on our Grandfather’s side.  Had they not been willing to step forward a few more of these boxes would have been marked “unknown.”

Also, a BIG thanks to Ron’s Mom (Jet) and my Dad (Jim) for sharing their memories.

Now, let me stop rambling!

Here’s the Tree!

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The Flowering Vine: Notice that there should be a Mr. H and a Mrs. H (LOL!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Flowering Vine: Harder Than Times in ’29

TRAVELING SALESMAN

During the years that my Mom, Uncle Jim, Aunt Joyce, Aunt Dot, and Uncle Leroy grew up—as the young folks say these days— “The struggle was real!” Not that the struggle wasn’t real before the 1940’s and 50’s; oh no! I don’t think anyone would disagree with me if I said that, the 30’s, 20’s and all decades prior, were as hard as hard can get. However, I am privileged to first-hand accounts of the afore-mentioned decades from Mom and her siblings.

One aspect of those times that I love hearing about, is the tales of the traveling salesmen. I can remember a man coming to our home selling Hoover vacuum cleaners. He put on one heck of a demonstration. I was amazed by the wondrous machine that this man introduced to us that day. I guess Gramp was as amazed as I was because, if my memory serves me, she purchased that silver torpedo with the elephantine trunk that day.

That vacuum served a twofold purpose, in those days. The first being the obvious one of sucking up the dirt that I and my siblings had tracked into Gramp’s house. Its secondary purpose was as various space tools and weapons, during my imaginary journeys through the galaxy, and yes, beyond!

Also, I can remember the insurance salesman coming by Gramp’s house, or as he was commonly known, the “Insurance Man”. He came bearing a large black leather book with handles.  It reminded me of a Bible in shape, color and texture, but there was nothing else Biblical about it.  It was very messy and disorganized. Bits and pieces of what I assumed, were the lives of his clients, peeked out like little shy elves, trying to get a glimpse of me, while I did the same to him.  Then he’d sit, carry on idle conversation, with the big book opened on his lap. He’d shuffle the papers until he found the one with the lives of my Grandparents on it, then some more pleasantries and a small transfer of money from Gramps hands to his and he was gone.

THAT WAS THE 60’S AND 70’S 

During Mom and them’s formative years, things were different, but the same.

My cousin Gwin’s and my parents, lived and survived on practically little or nothing. As I stated before, times were hard!

The things they did have were bought from traveling salesmen. There weren’t any Wal-Marts, with row after row and shelf after shelf of Wranglers and what-not. There were no Footlocker’s for young feet full of fire. There was just that old traveling salesman.

According to the accounts of my Mom and others, there were several different types of door-to-door salesmen. For instance, there was the Watkins Products salesmen. His inventory of wondrous wares included, but was not limited to; liniments, hair products, and the pièce de résistance, Watkins Petro-Carbo Salve; used to heal cuts and draw out splinters.

Granddaddy Leroy and Mother bought, among other things, school clothes for their children from these salesmen. This clothing salesman hawked his habiliment from the trunk of his old DeSoto automobile. Granddaddy Leroy and Mother paid Mr. Macon (the salesman’s name) $2 per week. The salesman kept a “running tab” of what was owed him.

In relating these events, my mother expressed how excited she and her siblings would be to see and choose from crisp school dresses, and long-sleeved, striped, shirts & jeans. Mom’s favorite dress of all, from the trunk of Mr. Macon’s DeSoto, was a red, plaid one, with white lace pockets and white lace on the sleeves.

With a nostalgic tone and a wistful look flirting across her countenance, Mom told me how she was so excited and felt so pretty on the first day of school. At that time, she was in the third or fourth grade and I can tell you with a surety, founded in pictures that I’ve seen from those  years, that she was an especially beautiful child. It is easy for me to imagine how beautiful she must have been in that dress, smiling a smile, a mile wide!

Besides the salesmen like Mr. Macon who ventured in vestments, there were others who sold, sundry stock like: books; Bibles, almanacs, and encyclopedias. As a matter of fact, my own father—who taught school most of the year—sold encyclopedias during the summer. He even sold himself a set of Childcraft encyclopedias, when I was about 4 or 5 years old. In my opinion, that particular purchase was the best purchase he ever made. Before I could read, I spent hours just looking at the pictures. When my father would read the captions under the pictures to me, I would remember them, and quote them back, word-for-word.

When I learned to read, nothing could come between me and the knowledge those books contained. -Ron Brown

           

The Flowering Vine: That Time At Wendy’s… An Audio Episode

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This is a true story.

Allow me to present you with a knock-off mini “radio show” re-enactment of an event that took place at Wendy’s in Eufaula, Alabama—Summer of 1987.

The major players were:

  • Grandma, aka Mother
  • Me, aka Lady G
  • Poor random guy at the drive-thru window

The whole thing was poorly written, poorly voiced and produced on the fly by Lady G.

Enjoy:

Mother and The Wendy’s Drive-thru Sign:  Run time: 1:48 (Not even two minutes)

 

 

 

 

The Flowering Vine: Only The Strong Survive

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ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE

Oh, you’ve got to be a man, you’ve got to take a stand

Only the strong survive, only the strong survive

Well, you’ve got to be strong, you’d better hold on

Only the strong survive

Only the strong survive, only the strong survive

Well, you’ve got to be a man (yeah), you’ve got to take a stand (yeah)

Only the strong survive, only the strong survive

Only the strong survive, only the strong survive

Only the strong survive, only the strong survive

(JERRY BUTLER, the ICEMAN)

Summers were the worse!

Those hot, sweltering, sweating days, increased the demand for ice ten-fold! When the demand for ice increased ten-fold, Granddaddy Leroy’s workload increased ten-fold

In the 1940’s and 50’s, Granddaddy managed the “ice plant” in Eufaula, Alabama. In those days, folks stored their ice in “iceboxes”; not refrigerators–those new-fangled contraptions were only available to the rich, but the average middle-class family could probably afford the less expensive “icebox”.

As for the poor, well they generally dug a hole out in the yard; then lined the hole with sawdust; then placed the block of ice in the hole; then insulated it with more sawdust; then covered the hole until they were ready for some ice. Then, when they were ready for ice, they’d simply go out to the “ice hole”, armed with an ice pick, hatchet, or an ax, and “chip a piece off the old block”.

When that sizzling, searing, summer heat hit, people craved the cool, cold, comfort of ice. They wanted whatever storage mechanism they had on hand, to be chocked full of ICE! Hence, the “ICEMAN”.

Curiously, no “White” men worked in the ice plant. Granddaddy was the closest thing to a White man there, so I guess that qualified him to be the manager. But being “manager” did not mean his workload was any less than anyone else’s; as a matter of fact, he may have been the “hardest working man” in the ice plant. Granddaddy worked, and worked, his fingers to the bone—all 8 of them—trying to keep those ice-making machines humming.

That truck? Wow man, that truck was something to behold! I think I might have a picture of one here somewhere. Kids would see that truck coming and stop whatever they were doing to chase that truck. No, it didn’t have a cute jingle ringing out; playing a “Pied Piper-ish” tune to entice them to follow. Ha! No colorful markings to E.N.T.I.C.E, but it had chips of I.C.E.I.N.I.T. There was no ICE CREAM MAN, but there was an ICEMAN, and that was good enough on those hot, hot, summer days.

The “Truck” went around every morning. Part of Granddaddy’s job, as manager, was to hire and pay men to drive the truck around the city to sell 5, 10 and 25 cent blocks of ice. The men would carry the ice into the homes with a set of ice tongs which would hook onto each side of the ice, making it easier for the “Icemen” to handle. Leroy Jr., also known as Uncle Leroy, even worked with Granddaddy from time-to-time.

Folks would put an “ice card” in a front window of the house which would indicate what size block of ice was needed. The card had four large numbers, usually “15”, “25” and “35”, with “50” on the reverse side. By taking note of these cards, the “Iceman” could tell, at a glance, how much ice was needed to fill the ice box chamber.  If a housewife wanted 25 pounds she would place the card in the window with the 25-pound number up, and the 35-pound number upside down.

For the younger siblings, having a Dad who was the manager of the ice plant had its perks. The plant was located by the railroad, alongside which they walked each day, to and from school. They would stop by the plant after school on hot days, and gather up ice chips in their hands and eat them on the way home. Who needed ice cream?

The ICEMEN who made the ice deliveries, wore capes. They were made of rubber, to protect them from the cold and wet, as they hoisted the ice blocks to their backs with the tongs and carried them into customers’ kitchens. The cape gave them the look of cape-wearing SUPERHEROES. But, Granddaddy’s children and grandchildren didn’t need to see him in a cape to know that he was a SUPERHERO; watching him fight the oppression that all Blacks faced in those days just to provide for his family, was good enough.

But alas, like all SUPERHEROS, he had his hamartia. For Superman, it was Kryptonite. For Granddaddy, it was the ammonia that was used in the ice-making process; that and the constant cold conditions, which together, caused irreversible damage to his lungs. However, despite the effects of his KRYPTONITE, he survived to a ripe old age. He SURVIVED because he was STRONG, and ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE.

“You can’t be too careful about work. It’s the most dangerous habit known to medical science.”

Eugene O’Neill, The Iceman Cometh

Love ya Granddaddy Leroy

The Flowering Vine: The Iceman Cometh!

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Mama say, “The Iceman is coming Ronnie”.  I say, “What?” She say, “I was just thinking Ronnie, Daddy’s 107th birthday will be celebrated by those who love and remember him on March 1, 2017. She slick didn’t answer my question.

“You know”, she paused, gazing ceilingward, “Our conversations have stirred the old dusty spirits of long lost memories. These same spirits have crept once again, and stubbornly, from the dusty hallways in my mind. They’ve slithered and slipped from the cracks and crevices to see what is the commotion. ‘What they say Mama!’ I chided her. “’Someone is here!’ they are whispering. ‘Who goes there—yonder—here, the chorus of their cracked voices croak”’. “That’s nice Mama, but what about that ‘Iceman’ what ‘sposed to be coming?” I queried, attempting to rebuke those old spirits that were shuffling—leaping—lunging—lounging, in her mind.

“Except for the few White people who lived in the settlement near Clayton, Alabama where Daddy lived with Grandma Mary, he didn’t know many people nor did he possess a sense of being discriminated against—until he entered school, that is” her voice trailed off. I could almost hear those old restless—ruthless—recalcitrant—refractory memories roiling around her consciousness.  “Um”, I grunted, hoping to shut those ghosts up for a moment, “What about the ‘Iceman’? When he coming” I goaded, I had to see this guy.

She ignored me—again, and continued, “He visited his Father’s plantation, played with his White sisters and brothers, and ate at their table. Daddy once told me that he did not know anyone of his ancestors as Black. There was never a mention of Grandma Mary’s parents. After years of concentrated study of an old photograph of her, I have summarily surmised that at least half of her puzzling parentage was also White” she grew quiet, as if she currently studied—scrutinized—surveyed—sympathized with, that old sepia-colored photograph.

“Immo knock that invisible darn picture right out of her hands”, I thought evilly to myself. I wanted more information on the “Iceman”. Mama continued, “Daddy’s education ended after 3rd grade. I guess he grew weary of having to run like a gazelle as you described in your last post” she laughed to herself, and then continued, “Even though Grandma Mary and Daddy were biracial, her and Leroy lived as Blacks. They made no attempt to ‘pass’ as it was called back then. ‘Passing’ meant that a person, light enough to be unrecognizable as Black, chose to live as a White”. “So,” I chimed in, hoping to break—bust—bash—barge into her reverie long enough get this question answered, “What about the ‘Iceman’?”

Have you ever felt invisible? Mama began her story again, “As he aged, that old foul villain, with the handlebar moustache, top hat, long black cape and white spats on his shoes; who went by the sobriquet, ‘Discrimination’ made his presence known. And from then on, wherever Daddy went, there he stood, cackling a vile laugh and wringing his long, white, bony hands”.  I looked up and Mama was wringing—wrenching–wrestling her hands against one another, as if envisioning this ‘Dick Dastardly’ reject, from ‘Perils of Penelope’. Sensing an opportunity—a break—a lull—a pause—a halt, in her discourse, I pounced! “Who is the ‘Iceman’?”

“For example, there were no hospitals for Black people”, she went on, as if I had again, done a “Sue Richards” impersonation. “The one or two hospitals that would take Black people put them in the basement.  The Black doctor, who had been taking care of them, possibly Dr. McCoo, was not allowed to practice in nor, attend to Blacks in the White hospitals. I am sure there were many other offenses that existed then, and still exist today. My first anamnesis, or as you phrase it Ronnie, “cryptic memory”, of Daddy having a REAL job was with the ice plant in Eufaula. By then he had married my Mom. I think I’ve given you that info”.

“The ‘Iceman’, finally I get to hear this story!” I shouted in my mind so loudly, my ears popped! Mama pause, and paused, and paused. I waited—wanted—wished—wondered, but she was done. “Damn, Damn, Damn!” my inner voice screeched, like an old Screech Owl that had just missed out on a juicy—jumpy—jittery—joyful mouse meal.

THE ICEMAN COMETH!

The Flowering Vine: Mother’s Diet, Fashion, and Beauty Tips

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My Daddy and my Grandmother (We all call her Mother)  (1992)

 

Dear Gwin or LadyG or whoever you call yourself when you write,

This is Mother, and I just want to let you know that I’ve been reading those blots that you and Ronnie have and I enjoy them very well.

I’ve also been looking around at other blots and I’ve found people talking about all kinds of things.

So, with that in mind,  I thought I might try writing a blot about how to keep yourself up after you turn 80.

I am hoping that your readers will appreciate this advice as it will stand the test of time.

Now…

Diet:

I keep my meals pretty simple.  You know the doctor said I was borderline diabetic so I have to watch my sugar.  That being the case, I usually eat 2 small cookies with my lunch and my dinner.

Listen now, don’t ever eat sweets between meals ’cause it won’t balance out–your sugar will go too high.  You always need something with it to keep it from shooting up.

Oh and I don’t drink full sugar drinks, I like diet Pepsi with my meals.

 

Fashion:

Always, always, always make sure your pants and skirts have elastic in the waist so you can be comfortable wherever you go.

A good pair of ear-bobs will help you to look nice and neat.

Beauty:

I bathe with Ivory soap and I always put Oil of Olay on my face; it keeps my skin from wrinkling.

If I’m going out, I use some scissors to cut off any stray hairs that crop up on my chin.

Since my hair started turning gray, I’ve been using V05 hair cream to keep it from going yellow.

Gwin, ain’t nothing worse than a head full of gray hair with a yellow cast to it.

Also make sure you use a good sponge roller for your bangs.

Well, that’s it for now.

I hope that some of your readers will find these tips useful.  I’ll go down in the comment section for a little while to answer questions. Tell your readers to begin their comments with “Dear Mother” if they want to talk to me about my blot.

Otherwise, they can talk to you.

Sincerely,

-Mother

 

***Any information contained in this post is for entertainment purposes only.  It is not intended to be used as, usurp or supplement professional medical advice.  Please consult your physician before changing your diet or exercise routine.  

These tips are from a CENTENARIAN…..so there’s that.  By the way, she was 82 years old in the picture above.  Sadly, she passed away a few years ago 🌹

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Flowering Vine: Run Boy Run!

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Run Boy Run

(A song by)

Yoann Lemoine

Run boy run! This world is not made for you

Run boy run! They’re trying to catch you

Run boy run! Running is, a victory

Run boy run! Beauty lays behind the hills

Run boy run! The sun will be guiding you

Run boy run! They’re dying to stop you

Run boy run! This race is a prophecy

Run boy run! Break out from society

Tomorrow is another day

And you won’t have to hide away

You’ll be a man, boy!

But for now, it’s time to run, it’s time to run!

Run boy run! This ride is a journey to

Run boy run! The secret inside of you

Run boy run! This race is a prophecy

Run boy run! And disappear in the trees

Tomorrow is another day

And you won’t have to hide away

You’ll be a man, boy!

But for now, it’s time to run, it’s time to run!

Tomorrow is another day

And when the night fades away

You’ll be a man, boy!

But for now, it’s time to run, it’s time to run!

In youth, I ran like a gazelle. I first became aware of that “fact”, in the seventh grade. At that time, junior high school—of which seventh grade was a part—was on the same campus as the high school. The school was only a block from my home so, of course, I walked to and from school.

It was upon entering this phase of my education, that my very best friend—Curtis—turned on me. I didn’t know why it happened then and I don’t know now; maybe it was part of the “adolescent developmental stage”—children do get a bit rowdy at that age.

Whatever the cause, he did it. He turned on me—his best friend. We’d been besties since first grade. He even called my grandma—who was a teacher at our elementary school—Granny! We were brothers; tighter than panty hose two sizes small, but that year, something changed.

Curtis teamed up with two known bullies, and for most of that school year, joined them in chasing me every day, after school. Each day, the school bell signaling the end of the school day, was for me, analogous to the firing of a starter pistol. Upon hearing it, I ran like a gazelle: out of the classroom; through the hallways leading to the outside world and down the hill, on top of which, the school campus stood.

Once I hit the pavement of that downhill street, I knew I was home free, for I ran like a gazelle! Through the path that led behind the little church on the street below I flew, then another twenty or so yards, and I was home free. I never looked back to see if the boys were closing the distance. I knew they weren’t. I knew, and they learned, that to continue the chase, would be futile because, I ran like a gazelle. No shit!

However, one dreadful day, they got me. I didn’t say they caught me; no, they were never able to do that! I said they GOT me. They intercepted me. As I headed down behind the church, a big bully named Leaker stood in the path. One of the boys—it could have been Curtis, I don’t know—yelled out, “Leaker, stop him!”. Leaker stuck out a big yellow arm—just as I was about to streak past—and stopped me cold; knocking the breath—the very life, it seemed—right out of my body.

I laid there on the ground, dazed and confused; looking up into the blue sky—into heaven. I saw the heads and shoulders of Curtis and the bullies, forming a circle around me; no angels in this heaven. They grabbed me by my leg and dragged me, like a rag doll, back up the hill and proceeded to kick my ass. “Finally”, I thought, “the end has come”.

In spite of the beating I took that day, I lived. Curtis and I became best friends again in the eighth grade. I knocked one of the bullies silly when, at a later date, he tried to bully me on his own. I was threatened by another of the bullies, Andy, after I’d reported him for throwing pecan shells at the other students, but the sight of my Dad’s “Hawk Bill”, changed his mind.  I continued to run like a gazelle, but as a member of the track team; earning 3 letters and a trophy, before my high school education was completed.

Granddaddy Leroy knew exactly why the children at his school turned their ire against him. He was too White.  They let him know every day, with heatedly hurled epithets. “Hey White Boy”, would have been the gentler and most benign of their loathsome lexicon. I can imagine that they called him “Cracker”. I can imagine that they might have called him “Milkman”, “Flour bag”, or “Pale-face”.

They teased him because his father was White. They teased him because his complexion was lighter than theirs. Maybe they called him “Massuh’s Nigger”, “Massuh’s boy” or “Po-Bucker”. It’s impudently ironic that they would have been abjectly averse to being called “Nigger” or “Coon”, by Whites. But they were just children. Children can be ignorant! Children can be mean!

However, things could have been exponentially worse, if not for the actions of the benevolent teacher who oversaw the school. Each day, she’d let little Leroy leave earlier than the other children, so he could avoid their malicious onslaught. He would then run as fast as he could, until he was way ahead of the others.

I can relate to my Granddaddy’s torment; in kind, if not in the magnitude. I imagine that, when that teacher opened that door, Leroy ran like a gazelle; just like a gazelle I tell you!