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January 19 2009

January Memorium:

Phil Woodall

Jett Travolta

In Memory...
Horace Pope

All Serve

I am the Chaplain

Dunn High Class Of 58

More Writers Than Readers


January Memorium:

Phil Woodall

Jett Travolta

In Memory...
Horace Pope

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama waves to the crowd in front of the Lincoln Memorial during the 'We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration At The Lincoln Memorial' on January 18, 2009 at the National Mall in Washington, DC. The event includes a diverse array of talent featuring both musical performances and historical readings and an appearance by U.S. President-elect Barack Obama.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP(AFP/Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla)

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)
In Honor of New Prez and MLK

excerpt from Brother's Memoirs

Another character who made quite an impact on our lives was a black man named Jimmy Sills. Dad picked him up hitchhiking one day and he stayed with us three months or so. How could that be in the racist South? I don't really know other than it happened.

To understand the racial culture in the South given our family values growing up is very difficult. It never dawned on us that we were racist. It was just the way it was.

If any of us thought two shakes about Jimmy staying with us, I surely don’t remember. He could sing like you could not imagine. Dad showed up one day with a guitar that Jimmy played from the moment he picked it up. We didn't know enough to ask how he had learned, but we knew he could play. He played the blues which was sweet to the ears even if we didn’t even know it was the “blues.” Jimmy could entertain us for hours.

We were told of one incident involving Jimmy that played out in our family history: It was homecoming day at Grandpa’s Church. Going to church was a constant for us. Dinner on the grounds was a happening with most of the churches. Once every year we had homecoming, a dinner on the grounds to celebrate the gathering of old and new members, former members, or anyone that wanted to come. The offering plates usually overflowed because of the large homecoming day attendence.

The church service lasted until early afternoon. Then the folks spilled out into the yard, bunching up in men and women groups. An endless line of tables were ladened with good country food and sweet tea. Grandpa would pray an endless prayer and the eating would be begin in earnest. If we were lucky, we would escape a second sermon. Children ran around playing tag or just running, hitting, doing what kids do.

Announcements, prayers, and singing were done from a platform with microphone at the head of the tables. Suddenly, our man Jimmy walked up to the microphone and started singing. The chatter turned to silence as the sweet sound of Jimmy played over the church crowd. He was singing the Irish ballet, "Danny Boy" that brought us all to tears—so sweet and peaceful.

Without warning, Josh Beasley, the biggest racist and bully and head of the local Klan Klavern shouted, “We don’t need no nigger singing for us.” At first, he was ignored but a bully doesn’t stay ignored long and he walked to where Jimmy stood, grabbed his guitar, and slapped him hard across the face; Josh then slammed Jimmy's guitar on the ground and then stomped on it.

Time stopped still as Jimmy walked away more or less cowered down like a dog with his tail between his legs. Josh hollered after him, “You don’t belong with white folks and you better learn your place.”

It was to be Josh Beasley’s last words as a two by four slammed hard into his skull. He hit the ground like a sack of potatoes. For what seemed like hours, everybody stood in stunned silence. Finally, there was a muffled comment, "He’s bleeding to death, let’s get him to the doctor." Two of his fellow Klan members loaded him in a car and sped out of the yard toward town. Some said it was one of our uncles who wielded the two by four as they all loved Jimmy. But, then again, others were less sure. What we do know is that homecoming came to an abrupt end.

It wasn’t long after that until Jimmy simply left. I saw him, suitcase in hand, talking to Dad out by the road. Dad went into the house and brought out a brand new guitar. We were also told that the same Uncle who wielded the two by four bought the guitar. Dad handed it to him, they embraced and Jimmy walked away. We heard Jimmy became famous. If he didn't hit it big, it surely wasn't because he didn't have talent.

In honor of Martin Luther King Day and the Inauguration of our New President

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