At the age of four he
remembers traveling alone on a train from
Jacksonville to Brinkley, Arkansas to spend time with
his aunt Etherine and
uncle George Rogers. He never noticed just how bleak the
surroundings inJacksonville were in the early forties
until he moved away for a few years and returned. Many
black people lived in “Shotgun houses” - three rooms
aligned in a single row. When you opened the front door
and the back door at the same time you looked thru the
entire structure. The house he and his grandparents
lived in had two bedrooms a living room and a kitchen. A
number three washtub in the kitchen served as their
bathing room. The other part of the bathroom was an
outhouse in the backyard. The streets were all unpaved,
but covered with iron rich, red colored clay-like soil.
The dust generated from the streets covered all the
houses causing them to have a reddish hue. Clothes hung
out on the line to dry, all developed a red tinge even
after being boiled in a wash pot.
When he was about thirteen the family moved into a
sandstone veneer (rock house) house that had five rooms,
a bathroom and real running water with an indoor
bathroom. About this time they got a telephone. It was a
party line which meant that several families were on the
same line. You might pickup the phone to use it, and
hear someone else talking.
The family spent all day
Sundays in church. They attended Benson CME. This was
the only social outlet his grandparents had other than
visiting relatives. Church was one place other than home
where black men were honored and treated with respect.
Their responsibilities in the church had no relation to
the jobs they held in the real world. His grandfather
worked as a laborer at a white funeral home, but in the
church he was “somebody”. View
in pdf format or pick up a copy of the
May edition of the Texas Informer.