Monthly Archives: November 2012

It’s Time for Mick.

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Juju stood in the middle of aisle 4 of M.E. Moses Five & Dime, mesmerized. She had one, crisp twenty-dollar bill jammed in the right, front pocket of her Levi’s. It was Juju’s tenth birthday, Friday, December 24, 1971 @ 2:00 p.m. and the money was a gift from her father.

Upon receiving the cash, Juju had run to the backyard, retrieved her red Schwinn, with the black, banana seat, and high-tailed it up Oak Street to the Bellaire Shopping Center. She was on a mission as she flew down the sidewalk past the Super X Drug Store, and parked the bike in front of her favorite store, making record time.

Not one for fancy stuff or jewelry, it had shocked Juju’s mother when she had told her that she had been eyeing a watch at Moses. Not the pink princess watch, with the real gold border, not the Batman watch, and certainly not the Brady Bunch one! Juju had zeroed in on the best of the lot, in her opinion, the Mick.

She plunked down the $14.50, plus tax and the watch was hers. Juju rode back home at a more leisurely pace, feeling her double-digit years…this was what getting older was about, going shopping and buying something with your own money, on your own time.

Mickey’s yellow gloves joined at the 12 and it was Christmas day. Juju got a guitar that Christmas morning that she never learned to play. It did look very cool resting in the corner of her bedroom by her record collection though. The Lite-Bright had been on her wish list and was under the tree, along with the requested Chemistry Set. Juju had the time of her life.

Time is a dimension in which events can be ordered from the past through the present and into the future.

Time keeps things from happening all at once.

Juju put on the Mick and stood in the middle of her bathroom, looking into the mirror. It was the end of her fiftieth year on earth and she was once again feeling her double-digit age. The visage looking back at her in the mirror was quite different from the girl on the bike.

Mickey had a new leather band and crystal. Time had required some upkeep, but overall he had survived the years well.

He had been there every day at 3:05 p.m. when the bell sounded, ending Mrs. Threadgill’s fourth-grade class. He had been there in 7th grade history and 11th grade Trigonometry. He had been on her wrist as she walked the stage to graduate. Mickey had matriculated to college and beyond with Juju.

Mickey got wound up sometimes, but usually remained steady, and gave her a secure squeeze on her left wrist, as the time marched on. Mickey kept everything from happening at once.

Surprising as it may be to most non-scientists and even to some scientists, Albert Einstein concluded in his later years that the past, present, and future all exist simultaneously. Einstein’s belief in an undivided solid reality was clear to him, so much so that he completely rejected the separation we experience as the moment of now. He believed there is no true division between past and future, there is rather a single existence.

Juju’s single existence has been quantified by one $14.50 watch. Her past, her present, and her future tick away on a 1971 model Timex Mickey Mouse. She proved Einstein’s theory as she stood in the bathroom, staring into the mirror….staring down at the display case on aisle 4. She raised her left wrist to her ear….tick- tock, tick- tock. Juju looked and found the time to be Christmas.

Spend your time well and have a joyous one!

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The Narrator.

The water from the fire hose stung on his skin and pounded him up against the brick wall. Each drop of water felt like a pebble of sand, moving about 900 miles per hour. Even above the blast of water and the cacophony of sound it created, Edgar could hear the two cops laughing. He lost his footing and fell face down in front of the cafe. Sprawled out on the steaming concrete, the water flow subsided. The Alabama sun and the crowd glared down upon him. The pressure on his back was of a different origin. A knee now, digging into his spine, 243 pounds of a cop behind it. “Cuff ’em and stuff ’em,” yelled the Sergeant, “I got me some pecan pie waiting inside!”

By the time he was tossed into the holding tank, Edgar was bleeding from a gash over his left eye. He had dared to look up, directly into the eyes of the white secretary, as he shuffled down the hall of the police department. His leg-chains had made peculiar sounds against the linoleum tile. A syncopated rhythm with the jangling of the keys hanging off his jailer’s belt.

“When will you people ever learn?” the jailer said as he went off to finish his book-in paperwork. Edgar was actually thinking that exact thing, when would he learn? It had all started with a group of his friends drinking out of the wrong water fountain. Peer pressure bravado that turned, in a matter of minutes, into a full-on street revolt. The hoses and dogs always seemed to come together on the same truck. He actually preferred the pain of the water sting to the incisors of a German Shepard latched onto his calf. Only a black man in 1963 Alabama could make that differential commentary he thought. That fucking jailer doesn’t even know the definition of “differential” Edgar thought…a smile eased across his bloodied face.

Two weeks later Edgar was standing approximately three hundred yards from Martin Luther King, Jr. in Washington D. C. Tears replaced blood and tracked down his cheeks. This man spoke his heart, this man was the narrator for his life.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

Jangling keys on the belt of the jailer….now transforming jangling discords of our nation. A lot can happen in two weeks of a person’s life. A local pastor, back home, had collected Edgar at jail after he had sat there for seven days and nights. There had been five people arrested for drinking out the “Whites Only” fountain that day at the cafe. All five were now standing shoulder to shoulder in a throng of over 200,000 people. The man to Edgar’s left was a white man. He turned to him and saw a mirrored, tear streaked face.   Edgar felt he may indeed be dreaming!

Local people had given up their seats on a bus headed to hear the Reverend, voluntarily given them up to the five brave people arrested that day. Edgar knew his bravado bordered on suicidal actions, but he was so very thankful. Thankful to witness this mass of humanity and to hear these words coming from this man. This world is bigger than that cafe, for sure bigger than that jail cell.

Edgar sat in his easy chair. His granddaughter rushed to the kitchen to get some chips during the TV commercial. The words coming out of the man had been the script of his life. They echoed back to his childhood. They whispered in his ear as he bent down to take that sip of cold water. They woke him as he lay on the floor of the jail cell. They invigorated him as he stood among a throng of many. They slipped lyrically in his good ear, as he walked his driveway every morning looking for his newspaper.

The racists stomped in fits and raised their fists. There were threats made, false allegations and ignorant people did ignorant things. The TV anchor announced that Barack Obama had just been re-elected as President of the United States.

Edgar was a retired civil engineer. He was a father of three and grandfather of seven. His life was one well lived and he was thankful. Thankful that he had lived through the bitterness of the twentieth century, to taste the sweet of the twenty-first.

The President was giving his acceptance speech to the world. Edgar saw his lips moving, but heard the booming voice of another.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

Edgar had long ago, left the valley of despair. America was divided politically, but he knew change would come. Edgar had hope. Edgar always had hope. Hope and change were not just buzz words for a political campaign to him.

The narration that began that hot August 28, 1963 had maintained, steadfast encouragement to fight the good fight. Different people mouthed the words, but the origin could always be traced back to that one man…the narrator. Words can lift up a generation. Words can flow from one voice and lend grace through the decades.

Edgar asked his twenty-four year old granddaughter what she thought had been the hardest obstacle to Obama being re-elected? The young woman responded, “The unemployment rate?” Edgar felt a smile ease across his face…as it should be, he thought to himself, as it should be. She would never be a veteran of creative suffering.