Days Gone Bye: In Living Black and White (Retread From Dec 19, 2001)

Published 4:00 pm Sunday, June 11, 2023

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I had a new client from out of town the other day, and he seemed familiar.  As Isadore Hughes started to leave, he gave a big grin at which time I stopped him, and said, “I know who you are.  That grin looked just like I remember your daddy, N.C., used to smile.”  He gave another big grin, and rushed over to hug me, and a flood of memories came over us both as we thought about his mama working for, and being a friend of my mama, and me playing with him and his brothers, all back in the fifties.

When Isadore left, I sat down and commenced to thinking of Black and White folks back in earlier days in this county.

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I reflected on playing with, and doing some good natured fighting, with those Johnson boys who lived over around Indian Mounds.  I remember you could always tell a Johnson, cause they all looked just alike. The Hughes, Johnsons and Boggs boys just went on having a good ol’ time together, and right now, I cannot recollect stopping in the middle of some game to think about their skin being darker than mine.

I often think back when as a teenager, I worked for the Town of Linden in the summer, and I would be the only white boy on the work crews.  Will Todd, Jr and I would enjoy ourselves seeing who could shovel the most sand into the back of a dump truck.  He seemed to enjoy himself longer than I did.

My good friend, Will, got killed in a car wreck with a lifelong older friend of mine, Doc Williams.  I wish they were still around to talk about those good ol’ days. Doc was decorated during WW II for saving a water supply for the troops.  He would just laugh about it, and say, “I got thirsty.”

Who, among us who grew up in Linden would not smile to think back on Deaf Wallace shining shoes and greeting everybody on the streets,  or Buddy Frank pushing his wheelbarrow around town, making everybody glad he was there?

The café behind the old courthouse was run by Robert Miller, and when Moose and I went in there for a cold drink, we looked at Mr. Miller just like any other merchant.  His RCs were just as cold as they were in Moose’s granddaddy, Mr. Mood Glass’ store, and they both cost a nickel.

You know a fellow I recollect being a great friend of my daddy?  Robert and Charles Jones’ daddy.  He was a well respected contractor back in those days.  His grandson, Robert, was the first Black boy to start to the previously all white public schools in Demopolis.  He enrolled in school along with my older son, Tadd.  They later on played some pretty good football together for the Tigers.

Now, I don’t aim to sugar coat anything today, because anybody knows there were some injustices going on between Whites and Blacks back then.  I’m just saying my memory bank can conjure up some mighty fun and stress free times between different folks who appeared to be plumb happy with each other.

I’m glad I knew dedicated men like the Abernathys south of the Bogue, who brought honor not just on a race of people, but on all of us, and I love to remember that one of my very first law clients was Dr. James Irvin Bell, an icon in the field of education.

We just all oughter reflect on things that were good in our lives…whether they were black, white or in Technicolor.