The Flowering Vine: A Letter to Our White Great-Grandfather

black and white me

Dear Robert,

My name is Gwin and I am one of your great-grandchildren.  Today, I am writing to you in hopes that your soul has ascended to an elevated level of understanding and empathy-having left your dark and dense material world many years ago.

As you can see, I am not exactly what you might have expected.
I am not Caucasian.
I am a strong and beautiful brown-skinned girl.
I am Black.
We are Black.
You see, I am one of many.
We are the grandchildren of your son, Leroy.
From what I have been told, our grandfather spent quite a bit of time at your home with you and your other children.
In fact, he once showed me a knee injury that he sustained while playing on your farm.
So there’s no doubt in my mind that you knew him and he knew you.
But, do you know us?
Did you notice that he married a beautiful and educated black woman?
Did you see their babies?
Did you see their baby’s babies?
Would you have recognized us as YOUR children?
Or would you have been horrified?
Terrified?
Based on historical documents, I know that your family is deeply rooted in the South.
I know that many of them fought and died for the Confederacy-their cold dead fingers still wrapped around that flag.
I also know that they vigorously worked to maintain white supremacy and dominance well after The Civil War.
History tells me that it is very likely that you and some of your kin gathered up the women and children, put on your best suit of clothes, packed a picnic and gleefully watched as one, or more of my black ancestors was beaten to death and hung from a tree.
You and your kin normalized the murder and torture of black folks because, in your Earthly simple mind, we were less than human.
Yet, you wouldn’t have dared watch someone hang a horse.
There is no justifying that.
But, as I write this letter, I have hope that God’s grace has brought you to a higher level of awareness and you now know just how sick you were.  I pray that you have boldly accepted whatever karma came your way and released your hatred.
However, having said that, I must inform you that your inability to repent for your sins while on Earth has led to the creation of a very ugly wound on our current society that never healed.
 In fact, it’s beginning to fester and without an immediate intervention, it will become septic—which is, indeed, fatal.
If you don’t believe what I am saying, I give you this post written by your Great-Grandson, my cousin, Ronald.
Here’s the thing Great-Granddaddy, I want to forgive you and yours for your trespasses, but it is hard as hell when the worst of you continue to uproot any amount of progress that is made.
Therefore, I’d ask that you send prayers of enlightenment and love down to all of those who are working so hard to dominate and oppress people who do not resemble them.
I’ll join you in those prayers.  Maybe, between me and you, we can initiate healing and change.
Peace, love and light to you!
-Gwin.
PS:  You can reach me in my Alternate Universe version of 1982 :).
Also I am enclosing a picture of your son (Leroy) and your Grandson (My Daddy).
IMG_0625

True Railroad Stories: The Peanut Man

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Hi Guys!

Some of you may remember that I previously posted a few of my Daddy’s tales from his 30-something year railroad career which spanned from the late 1960’s to the late 1990’s.

Naturally, he has a lot of amazing true stories to tell 🙂 

Just in case you’ve missed earlier posts, you can click on the links that I have included below. Trust me you will NOT be disappointed.

Today’s story is very inspiring and I am sure you’ll enjoy it!

Take it away Daddy!

LadyG 😘💋

 

Early on in my Railroad career, I worked as a flagman for a major railroad in the South.  At that time, I was assigned to a local freight train that operated daily between a large city and a smaller town in Georgia.

As the only black crew member in the late 1960’s, I was often exposed to racism–Many times to the point of depression.

However, the events in this story helped me to regain my faith and hope in mankind.

The person that I give most credit to restoring my faith was a white brakeman that I will call “Charlie.”

Although Charlie was not particularly fond of black people, we worked pretty well together.  He and I did most of the ground work when our train stopped in sidetracks to switch industries or pick or set-off railcars.

In one of the towns where we worked, we would often meet up with “The Peanut Man.”

The Peanut Man was an elderly black gentleman who rode around town on a three-wheel bike with a basket on the back filled with boiled and roasted peanuts.

Now, to the best of my recollection, The Peanut Man wore the exact same outfit every time we saw him–a worn and tattered black suit with a frayed white collared shirt.  A faded red bowtie, black fedora and horned rimmed glasses completed his ensemble.

Despite the ragged condition of his clothing, I often marveled at the way in which his deep dark complexion accentuated his smooth leathery skin.

Anyway, whenever Charlie and I stopped in The Peanut Man’s hometown, he’d start pedaling-feverishly- right toward us.  

Of course, we knew that he knew that we were his best customers.

 Why was that?  

Well, Charlie and I once asked The Peanut Man if he ever got tired of pedaling around town in order to sell his peanuts.  We wondered this because the town had several steep hills and, as I implied, he was well past his prime.

The Peanut man replied, “Yeah, but I need to make much money as I can.”

Though we didn’t say anything, Charlie and I both knew good and well that this man was too old to seek and find regular employment so selling peanuts was his only option for making a living.

With that in mind, whenever we saw him, we’d always buy as many bags as we could afford.

In fact, Charlie often bought much more than I did.

Here’s the amazing thing, I learned several years later that Charlie did not eat peanuts-nor did anyone else in his family.

From time to time I still wonder why he continued to buy all those peanuts.

Do you have any idea why?

-The Conductor

LOL!!!! Hey Da, I have my suspicions but I think I’ll leave it to my friends to try to hazard a guess in the comment section!

 

Other “True Railroad Stories” from Dad:

The Coal Toss

The Passengers

The Gathering of The Fireflies

 

 

My Jams 1980

 

1980s My Jams picks

“By the prickling of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.”–William Shakespeare, Macbeth Act IV Scene I

***Warning, this post is long and it contains controversial observations, coarse language and real talk!

“I hope you girls have a wonderful day and try not to eat all of that candy at one time!”

Mr. Johnny is so nice!  Me and my friends go to his store to get candy, soda and chips.  We like to get the Cherry Chans, Lemonheads, Boston Baked Beans, Nowlaters and Chick-o-sticks.  Sometimes, we get Cheez Doodles, sour cream and onion potato chips, pickles and a coke.

I like going to Mr. Johnny store better than I like going to Seven Eleven because they have a cashier there that don’t like Black people.  How do I know?  Because she act real nice to the White people but whenever we walk up, she don’t speak and then she just throw our stuff in the bag.  Oh and if we supposed to get change she’ll put it on the counter instead of giving it back to us in our hand.

But you know what?  Mr. Johnny is white just like she is and he don’t never do that.  He always nice.  That’s why I like going to his store.

Anyway, me and my friends ‘bout to go up to the top of the stands at Aquinas Stadium where we can sit down, eat our candy and talk private.

Ok so you remember I told you that I really like this guy but he don’t know it?  Don’t feel bad, only my friends know.  I can’t wait to tell them that he looked at me and smiled yesterday while I was walking down the street.  I wanted to say something to him but I just looked down.  I even forgot to smile back; I guess I was too scared.

That was dumb!

I know one thing. I can’t stay at Aquinas too long because I gotta walk all the way back home in time to get ready for Mama and Daddy to take me and Tack skating.  After that we get to go to Shakey’s for some pizza!!!!

Oh yeah I forgot to tell you, Mama don’t like pizza–she always just drinks the beer.

You know what else?  At Shakey’s they have a picture of a green Grinch looking cartoon and under the picture it says, “Some people don’t like Shakey’s pizza!”  We always joke and say that’s Mama!  Don’t worry, she don’t mind.

One of the things I like about Shakey’s is we get to watch the people make our pizza.  I like to watch them toss the dough up and catch it.  Oh yeah, one time Daddy tried making a pizza but it had way too much grease and it made everybody sick.  I think he used the regular kind of sausage- you know, like the ones you get in the store.  It wasn’t like the kind they use at Shakey’s.

I didn’t eat no pizza for a long time after that happened.

Oh and another thing I like.  Shakey’s got long tables and a big movie screen where they play old movies like the “Three Stooges” and “The Little Rascals.”  I love it ‘cause everybody be laughing and having a good time.

Anyway, I just thought about something different.

Did I tell you that somebody is killing little black kids in Atlanta?  Some of the kids they killed are my same age.  They don’t know who it is that’s doing it but whoever it is killed a bunch of them.  Some people say it’s the KKK dressed up like a police man. That’s another reason why I need to get on back home.  I’m scared they might start coming to kill us over here.  You know it ain’t that far away.

Ok, I don’t really want to talk about that no more ‘cause I don’t like thinking about it.

Anyway, let’s change the subject back to fun stuff!

Tonight I’m gon’ wear my new black skate covers to the skating ring!  It’s gon’ be so much fun!  Hopefully a cute boy will ask me to couple skate to “Special Lady” or “Young Love.”  I been practicing skating backward just in case somebody do.  That reminds me, have you ever heard those songs I was just talking about?  I love “Young Love” by Teena Marie!  It makes me think about the boy I like.

Just so you know, the crowd likes to watch the older boys at the skating ring shuffle to “Bounce, Rock, Roll, Skate.”  They be getting off! Everybody have to get off the floor when they start shuffling!

I probably won’t never learn how to shuffle ’cause they be turning back and forth and stuff.  I know one thing, it take a lot of practice and I’m scared I’ll fall so I don’t even try.  Most of the girls just watch anyway.

After the boys finish shuffling the rest of us feel stupid-like we can’t even really skate.

Well everybody but Tack!  He just keep on plowing around the ring running into people.  That boy gon’ make somebody kill they self.

I gotta go for now, I’ll talk to you later.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Uh oh baby, shit done got real in my world. Your girl started noticing what was really going on.  She also started falling in love- or something like that!  Yeah chile, I had a major crush on this good looking young dude.  I still can’t tell you his name but he was one of them Caribbeaninish looking folks.

Anyway, y’all know racism is real baby; especially in the Deep South.  Chile that thang is somethin’ serious!

Now to be fair, Little Lady G had friends of all colors, creeds and nationalities but occasionally I would run into a real jackass that just could not see the beauty in anybody that didn’t look like him or her—and baby they let it be known too!

Talk about things getting real?  That shit that went down in the ATL back between like 1978 and the early 1980’s where some bastard(s) was killing black kids was freaking nightmarish.  Now you know they arrested this one joker and pinned all that shit on him.  Between me, you and a streetlight, Lady G is not convinced that he killed all them kids.  But what really troubles a sista is the fact that the sons of bitches that did are probably ambling around today looking like kindly old men and/or women.  Hell I probably held the door for one of ‘em at the damn grocery store.

That’s real talk right there.

If you don’t know about The Atlanta Child Murders take your ass promptly over to a new tab and google that shit.  It was beyond fk’d up!  Oh yeah, you might wanna do that when you ready to get on a more serious tip.  Otherwise, stay with me for now.

Speaking of serious, them damn Reagan years wasn’t no joke!  For some reason, Ronald Reagan done took on some kinda mythical status.  Well let me tell you one damn thang.  It wasn’t a gotdamn thang trickling down round my neck of the woods. As the people say, money was too tight to mention for a lot of folks…Black and White!

Sorry ya’ll but I got to call some stuff out! Now if you don’t like it you can get the hell on! But if you leave you gonna miss a helluva party chile!

End of Rant!

Alright, never mind me, I’m good!  I said my peace.

So let me ask you this?  How in the hell are you doing?  Looks like we made it y’all!  I reckon that planet alignment world ending story was another bunch of bullshit.  As you can clearly see, the world did not end and we are here together enjoying this sunny day in 1980.  You do realize that Lady G started not to take this thang into the ‘80’s but the people had their say and they told me to keep going!  So that’s exactly what I plan to do!

And so…

Let’s get it in!

My Jams 1980

Take your time by the SOS Band

Now this damn thang right here was deadly serious from the first note!

SOS wasn’t even playing with this jam.

“Baby we can do it take your time do it right…”

Chile them lyrics can be applied to a myriad of things!

 

You like me don’t you by Jermaine Jackson

I guess Jermaine got tired of singing phrases with his brothers.  Ya’ll know Mike had the lead singing thing on lock!

Hell I didn’t know the joker could hold a tune but baby when I heard this song I was shook!

Back together again by Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack

I’ll be honest, I didn’t know who in the hell Donny Hathaway was at that time and all I knew about Roberta Flack was “Killing me softly.”

Well baby, Donny and Roberta sat my ass down and schooled me!

Yessuh!

Donny, who was a musical genius by all accounts, is the great Lalah Hathaway’s dad and baby when it comes to singing, she is the truth!  Have you ever heard that Queen Diva harmonize with herself?  I am not bull-jiving you!  Go look it up!

I shoulda loved ya by Narada M. Walden

Now if you wanna talk nasty basslines, then this has GOT to be on the list.

Behind the Groove by Teena Marie

No freaking bassline list would be complete without this jam from “wild and peaceful Lady T!”

Oh yeah, you will see this Queen again so please recognize!

I need your lovin by Teena Marie

What the hell did I just say?  Like I just said, here she is again!

(Dead) may I rest in peace!

Yessuh, this Queen officially slayed me!

“Just a little love and this will do…just a little love….nananana..L-O-V-E love.”

I just simply cannot!

Old Fashion Love by The Commodores

Ok so you know Lionel’nem  came from Tuskegee, Alabama right?

Well chile, Lionel and I used to kick it back in 1967.  The whole little love affair was so sweet that it inspired him to write this jam several years later.

I just feel so honored that he would do that for me.

Y’all, I really hated to leave him but I met this dude named Marvin G. and the rest was history.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it 😉

Don’t say goodnight by The Isley Brothers

One day I was talking to Ron Isley about how Marvin had started tripping.  Next thing I know that joker started serenading me with this jam.  So you know what happened next right?

Anyway,

This one is a MUST for any responsible lovemaking playlist!

Love TKO by Teddy Pendergrass

Now when Ron started boring the hell out of me I ran up on TP baby!

I ain’t been right since!

I owe you one by Shalamar

Oh yes, be aware that SOLAR records was on the warpath in 1980 chile!

Shalamar brought it with this jam!

“Let me hear you say ooooh, ooooh, I owe you one!”

Inquiring minds want to know more about this whole quid pro quo situation.  What exactly does one owe the other?

Remote control by The Reddings

Consider this one a bonus from my Georgia homeboys!

Two of these fellas are Otis Redding’s sons.  The other one is a cousin, friend or sumthin.

Just some sincere Jawja boys!

Don’t act like you don’t know.

Where did we go wrong by LTD

Aw shit now!  Where did we go wrong Jeffrey?  To quote Angie Bofill, “You know that I tried to be with you!”  LOL!

I tell you what, I don’t give a damn how raggedy your thang is, Jeffrey will make your ass reconsider with this jam!

“Where did we go wrong? Now won’t you tell me what went wrong with love so maybe we can fix it…What’s wrong between us?”

Jeff said he had a lot of sleepless nights with this crisis on his mind.  Jeff, all I gotta say is you better get your ass over there and start to wooooo woooo wooooo.

Shake your pants by Cameo

This is the real Cameo right chere baby!

I ain’t talking about them ones with Larry Blackmon running around with a big red crotch g-string on.

Don’t get me wrong, I realize that Larry founded the group and Tomi Jenkins’nem were original members.

However, today I’m talking about the whole band with ALL OF THE instruments.  And of course, my dear late Wayne Cooper, FALSETTO EXTRAORDINAIRE! Yeah, I said it!

Anyway,

“I like it tonight, cause that’s when my body feels just right!”

But wait….check out Wayne hollering “Feel it…ooooowwww..feel it… yeah…can you feel the groove?…make your body move!!”

DEAD!

I just love the man by The Jones Girl

Yassss!  Honey the Sound of Philly never gets old and it’s always about real talk!

Baby, I was all about that ongoing ‘phone call dialogue’ in this jam!

Honey Ms. Shirley wasn’t trying to hear Mama, Valorie and Brenda’nem talking about her man.

Peep this:

Now look, Shirley (Now what do you want, Brenda)

I don’t know who you’re trying to fool

And even mama said we should talk to you about this (Oh, yeah)

Yeah, that’s right

‘Cause all that stuff you talk about him providin’ for you

That don’t mean nothin’

I mean, where was he at when your rent was back three months

And we had to all put a little bit of money together

To keep a roof over not only your head, but his head too

You see, I’m not tryin’ to get in your business

But I just couldn’t hold this back any longer

(See, I’m glad you and mama, and Valorie, I’m glad you all concerned

But this is something you will never understand)

 I just love the man

And I don’t care what you say

I just love him, I love him, I love him

‘Cause he treats me the way

That I want to be treated

When I need to be needed

Yass honey, sometimes Brenda and Valorie’nem just need to know when to shut they damn mouth and let Shirley figure shit out on her own!  And yes this applies to all ya’ll that feel the need to tell a woman some shit about her man.

It ain’t like she don’t know already.  Trust me, you ain’t telling her nothing new! Hell she knew he was a snake when she brought him home.

Southern Girl by Frankie Beverly and Maze

YESSUH!!!!

Frankie’nem paid homage to us Southern Girls!  Yasss!

I am not going to rub it in….I’ll just let the song speak for itself.

“Southern girl here’s to you no one can do it like you do…”

Now if you happen to be a Black American living anywhere else in the world and you have an ancestor who was a slave in the U.S. then more than likely your mammy, grandmammy or your great grandmammy was a Southern girl so please don’t hate!  In fact, appreciate!

‘Nuff said!

 

Alright, I’ve talked enough junk!  Let’s take a peek at Mama’s collection:

I’m coming out by Diana Ross

Jump to the Beat by Stacy Lattisaw

And the beat goes on by The Whispers

Let’s get serious by Jermaine Jackson

He’s so shy by The Pointer Sisters

Oops upside your head/Humping by The Gap Band

Don’t stop the music by Yarbrough and Peoples

Lovely one by The Jacksons

A lover’s holiday by Change

Together by Tierra

Funkin for Jamaica by Tom Browne

Let me be your angel by Stacy Lattisaw

Searching by Change

I pledge my love by Peaches and Herb

Lady by the Whispers

Haven’t you heard by Patrice Rushen

I’ve just begun to love you by Dynasty

The breaks by Kurtis Blow

Uptown by Prince

Thighs high by Tom Browne

All night thang Invisible Man’s Band

I’ll never find another by The Manhattans

Love over and over again by Switch

High by Skyy

Here we go again by The Isley Brothers

Funk you up by Sequence

Rescue me by A Taste of Honey

Big time by Rick James

S.O.S by the SOS band

Papillon by Rufus featuring Chaka Khan

By your side by Con funk shun

Do me right by Dynasty

Skyzoo by Skyy

This feeling’s rated X-tra by Carl Carlton

Say you love me girl by Breakwater

Watching you by Slave

Master blaster by Stevie Wonder

I can make it better by The Whispers

Finally, this last one goes out to my son and daughter:

Steal Away by Robbie Dupree

Ok so let’s get this straight, I know that this one crossed over from the pop charts but I will sing this damn song on DEMAND and without warning!  Sorry, it is my guilty pleasure.

I sang it to my babies while rocking them to sleep and I sing it in Publix to embarrass the PURE hell out of them.

By the way, I do the same thing with “Spirits in the material world” and “Every little thing she does is magic” by The Police.

I can’t help it!  Sometimes Lady G has to get a little bit goofy!

Ok 1980 my love, be blessed!  I love you but I gotta go!

What are your favorite jams or memories from 1980?

Next Thursday:  My Jams ‘81