Vernon waited too late. A cousin, he now wants to assemble our family tree. A branch of it at least. One comprising our mutual matriarchal entities. The moment to have done this was decades ago when enough generations still stretched among us to weave that narrative together.
My grandmother Alice, his aunt, was born in 1908. Hers would’ve been a fine memory to excavate. She could’ve provided his enterprise’s bones. After all she was old enough to have known ex-slaves.
Ex-slaves. Talk about history coming to life. It’s one thing to watch Skip Gates’ Finding Your Roots or Ken Burns’ Civil War documentary. It surely would’ve been more immediate to have such recollections lent voice from a listener who heard them directly from people who underwent those indignities.
It’s no stretch to any imagination in Alice seeing her own grandparents as having once been chattel.
What prompted Vernon’s late, nearly futile search? Edna Long. Edna Long piqued him. Continue reading Edna Long Left Questions
Forsaking the East required me to pare possessions. Fortunately or unfortunately, I lack a lot of sentimental feeling so few precious heirlooms weighted my way West. Instead, I brought along plenty of memories. All of which bear greater substance than most of the dustcatchers dispersed or abandoned in Quarropas.
One item borne along means absolutely nothing to me. It had been father’s. Looking at it now foments all sorts of questions because having observed him the thing is inconsistent with who he was. Or at least the man he presented. Continue reading The Idol
Thanksgiving is the perfect American holiday. It involves no organized religion and doesn’t commemorate any national event. Pretty much a civil feast day, Thanksgiving allows Americans to enjoy our one singular unifying trait – mindless gorging.
Strange how diet gurus quit hibernating and emerge en masse to inform and warn Americans about the perils of overeating on this single day. Really. Setting aside one day of the year for sanctioned mouth-stuffing won’t lard on that much tonnage, will it? A month? Yeah. One day? Please. Continue reading Less Thanks
Those Metropolitan Museum of Art bulletins are having an insidious effect. They remind of what’s been left behind. That’s why I’m already looking ahead to August 2015 for a return to New York.
Of course one upside regarding this move to Nevada is finally being able to enter contests whose grand prizes are all-expense paid trips to New York City. Before, sponsors never failed stuffing my inbox or mailbox with entries. For trips to New York City. Maybe if I lived in Buffalo or Plattsburgh the excursion offered might’ve been worthwhile.
Instead, had I entered and somehow won, travel would’ve consisted of catching a commuter train to Grand Central Terminal, then, depending on the hotel, taking a subway or cab there.
That sojourn wouldn’t have provoked any bug-eyed, screaming gratitude. That just would’ve been another weekend downtown.
Strangely enough now that I live in Las Vegas, I’m receiving pitches whose big prizes are Vegas vacations. Like I said, strange. Continue reading New Start at New Address
This post follows She Humanized Him. Language and characteristics reflect the times, people and places.
The Second World War. I would’ve thought Jim Crow defined father. No, that he brushed off. Instead, Adolf Hitler yanked him and millions of others from preordained ruts in American life.
While father praised Roosevelt for his bravery, grit, willingness to experiment, his simple man’s outlook saw Hitler as a cauterizing savior who advanced American society.
Continue reading Wartime
This post follows Phony Gold and Our Patrimony. Language and characterizations reflect the times, people and places.
Without Waymon our two-family home shrunk. That’s a statement I couldn’t attribute to his wife Camille, or sons Richard and Junior together. Combined my aunt and cousins lacked my uncle’s single vitality. Waymon’s subtraction multiplied emptiness.
Although obviously gone, one truly became aware of his absence after the funeral. Esteem him, fear him, my uncle lived 93 years. He’d known a lot of people. Not all of whom went before him.
The significance of Waymon’s death was such that even mother made a pilgrimage to our old modest homestead. Certainly acrimony ruptured my parents. However, that happened in 1966. So long ago time had blurred its sharpness.
Continue reading She Humanized Him
In their reckless haste to denude Waymon and Camille’s portion of our house, my cousin Boopy and her husband Dim overlooked “the pen.” To them, the instrument must’ve been among the most meaningless of trifles. Like all those photographs of her family.
The implement was more than an expensive writing tool. Boopy’s grandfather Waymon bought it for a single use, a distinct purpose. He’d paid attention to the processes which granted blacks greater inclusion into American life. All of them affirmed through signatures. What he had in mind was no less momentous than those bills enacted. Continue reading Our Patrimony
This is a piece of what shall become a lengthier whole. The language and characterizations below reflect the times, places, and people.
Were the Debutante a proper mother throughout the 1970s into 80s, our family would’ve suffered milder disruption. Surely being present in her daughter Boopy’s life, instructing the girl, might’ve made the child impervious to Dim.
While I blame Richard for his premature avoidable 1990 demise, Boopy was the one who pulled down our home in 2005. She performed this by marrying Dim, a rancid example of puerile white trash. Then she let him willingly lead her disastrously astray. Who could’ve foreseen their nuptial the lowlight of 1993?
Had Junior, heir to Richard’s spare, not succumbed to emphysema in 1999 our family presence in Quarropas does not dissolve. It would’ve helped us had he taken a woman better than the Debutante as his bride. That alone should’ve improved the likelihood of his leaving a worthwhile successor.
The Debutante didn’t necessarily need to remain Junior’s wife. Even from afar some maternal instinct alone ought’ve sufficed for her to guide Boopy and deflect catastrophe.
Wife? Nope! Mother? Pah! Continue reading Phony Gold
August does not lend itself to cool reasoning. Heat and humidity alter senses. Fetid extremes don’t simply quicken our humors but agitate them.
Somehow the ancients understood this. And somehow given current advances in science we today dismiss their view as archaic.
We seek reason where none exists. When the answer fails fitting our box we prefer believing the dilemma “inexplicable.” Or worse, chop the matter down and stuff it into an approximation which mollifies us. “Close” suffices because “right” taxes us too much.
Besides, getting it right just may upset a lot of comfortably held perceptions. Well, hidebound ones with which we’re comfortable.
Continue reading From the Miasma
Ideally this post would flog Properly Stirred, the 2013 Slow Boat Media short-story compilation. The three interludes feature Paul Knox, a man who enjoyed his pleasures (okay, more than his fair share of pleasures), yielded to the demands of age and status, believed himself to have contentment, then got bushwhacked.
Better than a redo, Knox reverts throughout Properly Stirred. While not indulging in irresponsibility, he must no longer conform. Paul Knox has achieved an enviable state. He’s been released. And he returns to situations and conditions which had earlier occupied him to happy ends.
Continue reading Down Time