Some of us are fortunate to have a hero or herione in our lives.
Some of us have more than one.
By "hero", I do not mean something so empty as hero worship such as a fan watching Joe DiMaggio or Annika Sorenstam.
She may be a decent person however, I'm talking about something else entirely.
I mean someone with whom you actually interacted and/or may have taught you something important about life or being about how to treat others.
Sam, wherever you are, I love you.
As I grew older and somewhat more mature emotionally, I began to see Sam in a more meaningful way.
Here was a man who treated me with kindness and respect, in spite of the way things had to have been for him in a white man's world.
I don't even have to close my eyes to remember what he looked like or to see the scene in front of my grandparents' house with the apple tree in the yard and the house set way back.
I can still see him shovelling that coal into that wheelbarrow and wheeling it up the gangway to the door of the coalbin.
The best part is that I can still experience in my heart what it was like to be with this big strong man as a little boy.
From the time a little past my 2nd birthday till I was almost 5 years old, I had marks on my buttocks, the backs of my thighs and down almost to my ankles.
These marks were about an inch wide and a couple of inches long.
My father had a belt which was his "favorite" belt.
It was a hard belt with the finished side having a raised middle of reddish brown shiny leather. There were rows on either side of sort of decorative curled ridges.
I was almost 5 years old when he used it for the last time.
It was usually sometime in the evening when he would walk me into my bedroom where this would typically happen.
This evening he made me take down my pants and undershorts and, when I was ready, he began.
I watched him as he did what he did, waiting for me to cry as I usually did which was when he would stop in victory.
His thin lips would pull tight against his teeth and spittle would come out of his mouth.
I don't know how I made the decision I made in only my 5th year of life.
This time I didn't cry.
This time I didn't flinch.
I was looking directly into his gray eyes.
He stopped when I didn't respond in the "prescribed" way.
I said, "It doesn't hurt anymore, daddy".
He threw the belt on my bed and never used it again.
Even at that young age, I felt that I had won a victory.
It was at this time that he switched from the physical to emotional harassment.
The harassment and resulting distance didn't resolve itself till about a week after we buried him.
I was in my 31st year that day.
About a week after we buried him I had an itch on my cheek.
I scratched it and felt something wet on my fingers.
I looked at them and saw blood.
When I looked closely at my fingers, I saw that I had ceased biting my nails.
It was pretty much over for him that day, except for the memories which come back every so often.
As I think back about the last time in my bedroom and to the time I scratched my face, I began to maybe understand just a little of how it might have been to be Sam.
I imagine Sam subscibing to the falsely quoted, "Illegitimus non carborundum".
False quote or not, I see Sam as being who he was in spite of all that went on around him.
Thank you, Sam, for that lesson.
It is apparently something like that which occured for me that evening in my bedrrom.
Sam may be more the man than I will ever be butt, he is one of my two heroes.
My other hero has to do with Vietnam and, I am far from being ready to go there, if ever.
When I was in high school, I hung around with a small crowd of kids, a couple of which were musicians.
One of the girls in "our" crowd lived with her aunt and uncle so that she could go to school out of the inner city.
Even in the 1950's they did this.
Her mother, who was a white women, lived on Sacramento Blvd.
This was a mixed neighborhood. "Mixed" became "interracial" as pc took over and made it all butt impossible for most of us to converse and be able to say what we actually thought or felt.
Sometimes we used to go to her mom's house which was a flat in a brick three story building.
Sometimes, when we visited there, I'd hear jazz coming from one of the other flats.
I used to listen to WAAF, the only real jazz station in Chicago.
The DJs were Marty Faye, Vince Garrity and Jesse Owens.
Yes, THAT Jesse Owens.
I went upstairs to that other flat and knocked on the door.
A kid about my age opened it and asked what I wanted.
I told him I was into jazz and could I sit and listen for a while.
He smiled and nodded, letting me come in.
There was another kid there named Luke.
We got to talking and hit it off pretty good having jazz as a starting point for conversation.
Over time, I got to know Luke pretty well and, we became friends.
He lived with his parents on the southside near 63rd & Cottage.
This was predominantly a "colored" neighborhood.
In whitespeak, negroes had now become "colored people" among other, mostly derogatory labels used by a lot of white poeple to falsely pump themsleves up to superiority in comparison to what they "thought" colored people were like and what they were in their own eyes.
Luke played the trumpet and was pretty good.
I played drums and keyboards and thought I was pretty good.
We got together at another guys house who played a bass to smoke some reefer and jam.
We thought we were pretty good and, I'm glad there are no recerdings of us as, the truth was probably far from what we thought.
Luke's mom treated me with acceptance right away.
It took a couple of visits before I spent a little time with his dad who was into cars.
So was I and, since I was good with tools and had a '51 Ford convert with a flat head V8, we had something to talk about.
One day, when I was at Luke's, his dad was working on a car in the back yard.
I went out to nose around and ended up helping him.
We were both under the car, a '46 Ford 2 door, when someone walked past and said, "Hi, Dad".
Dad, whose name was also Luke, said "Hey, Loanne".
Part III~~Loanne next.
BTW-These numbers were written several years after these times of my life butt, they're a couple of my all time favorites.
In all of my K's of 78's, vinyl, casettes and CD's, this is my all time favorite musician.
When you open this, click on "Sunny"~~