Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thoughts of Gloria Jean, John F Kennedy and Me

Every year this time I always think about Gloria Jean and me.

When the mention of John F Kennedy comes up, I think of how lucky Gloria Jean and I was when he came to town in 1960.

There was a rally and parade down town and John F Kennedy was running for the office of President of The United States. 

We were more than excited because we got to get out of class and go see this man who our parents were so bent on voting for.

Besides we were excused for the rest of the day from school and had visions of going to Woolsworth and hanging out in the basement.
The basement was where we all hung out until Cowboy the security came and ran us out. 

When we reached the route to the parade we looked up and saw the car that John F Kennedy was riding in. 
I reached out and shook his hand.

I was taken aback because this man's hand was so soft and at the same time, I had a calm feeling come over me.

I asked Gloria if she noticed how soft his hands were. She said she did and wanted to shake his hand again. 
We took off running ahead of the car and waited for the car to pass by again. We reached up and got another handshake.

I had always wished that I had gotten another handshake after John F Kennedy became President but it was not in the cards.

People often ask me where was I when John F Kennedy was killed. 

I remember that day well; I was laying across my bed at 720 West Wright in Altus Oklahoma.

From the living room I heard breaking news that the president has been shot.

I jumped straight out of bed, went to the living room, sat down and waited. I was hoping I had heard wrong. My hurt turned to sorrow.

As for Gloria Jean, I wish she were here. We could laugh and talk about the times we had. 

When you can remember and smile about old memories and laugh out loud so hard, you cry good tears, then those were the days. 

Perhaps she has already told John F Kennedy that she got to shake his hand, not once but twice.

Rest in Peace both of you.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Arizona's Wonderful Women Hall Of Fame

Many memories hang on the wall of the Historical Carnegie Library on 11th Street and West Washington.

 A bit of history:  The Carnegie was the Phoenix library from 1908 to 1954 and has the name of Andrew Carnegie a philanthropist from New York. 

Since its restoration, it is now a center for community based organizations and meeting places and speaking engagements.

One such meeting I attended was to hear a speaker talk about DNA and Genealogy and also a talk about writing and journaling.

When the session was over I went to view the exhibits throughout the building.

The center houses beautiful quilts that highlight women who have made a contribution in the betterment of Arizona and have been inducted into the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame.

The quilts were all custom made with the help of the Arizona Quilters Guild and also created and donated by three members of the Phoenix Quilters Association, Patricia Bliss, Sara Friesen and Nellie Lopes.

I swelled with pride when I spotted Ms. Laura Heron, my Physical Education teacher when I attended Phoenix College many moons ago. 

If I remember correctly Ms Heron was up in age then but full of spunk. 

As I moved over to see the rest of the images, my heart really swelled when I saw one of my heroines Ms. Coleman who we all know resurrected Juneteenth here in Phoenix. She also helped so many others, as she used her voice to relay what tenents of the Matthew Henson Projects wanted the City of Phoenix to address.

When Ms Coleman talked, they listened.

 However I cannot help but let my mind wander to her mother Ms. Bertie Bryant. 

Now that lady was my savior when my kids were small. As a single mother who had to work and needed someone who cared about children Ms. Bryant was the answer to my prayer.

She was a gentle soul and my kids loved her. My daughter Tish and nephew Anthony always were anxious to hit those steps to her house on West Madison.

They didn’t fool me;   I knew that she could cook way better than me and they knew it too.

I wish I could tell her today how much I appreciated her. Instead she will always remain in my thoughts and my heart. 

When I came home from the presentation I wondered where Ms Bryant came from. I was surprised to learn that she was actually from Henderson Texas, a city not far from Marshall Texas, my grandparents home.

Ms Bertie Bryant came from Henderson Texas and was first married to Robert Myers.
They lived on Railroad Street in 1920 according to the Rusk Co Census records.

Here is the excerpt view

I was curious to see if there may be a common name that shows up because I search all around that area.
I am hoping this 1900 census holds a clue

The wheels are turning in my Harrison County Texas mind. Where are you with this McLemore name? 

In the meantime, continue to Rest In Peace Ms Berta Bryant!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Marching Marchbanks: An Arizona Connection

As I was looking through old newspaper articles, I came across a rather nice looking man who was enrolled at the University Of Arizona in Tucson. Intrigued, I wondered what happened to him. As I read the article and started to dig around, I found another person that started the heart of what I call the Marching Marchbank's.
Vance Hunter Marchbank's Sr was a warrant officer in the famed 9th and 10th Calvary who served his country for well over forty years. Vance Sr registered on August 2nd 1895 in Nashville Tennessee and was assigned to the 9th Calvary click on image to see number 3 on Register
Through his many military travels he wound up in Ft Huachuca Arizona with the famed Buffalo Soldiers Excerpt : In 1927, while Marchbanks was living at Fort Huachuca, he was asked to give a talk to a convention of Sunday School teachers at McNary, Arizona, a "lumber camp town of about 1,500 people." [In 1924 the town became known as McNary after the name of the lumber company which bought the property in that year. The place had formerly been known as Cooley and Cooley's Ranch, a stopover for Marchbanks when he was at Forts Wingate and Apache. A number of African-American men were imported to work in the sawmill, so it is likely that his audience was largely made up of blacks.] The subject of his speech was to be "Reminiscences of a Trooper at Fort Apache in 1900." After talking briefly about his experiences around Fort Apache, Marchbanks then goes on to make an eloquent statement about patriotism, about the contributions of the "colored soldier" to the nation, and about racial injustice. As a colored soldier, he felt he had duties beyond the battlefield. He said ..... If you want equal rights in this country, if you want to make yourselves felt, if you do not want your children to wait long years before they have the bread on the table, the leisure in their lives they ought to have, the opportunity in life they ought to have;if you do not want to wait yourselves, write on your banner so that every political trimmer can read it so that every politician no matter how shortsighted he may be can read it "We Never Forget, We Never Forget, We Never Forget."
Van Sr retired in 1939 as a Captain The rest of Sr Vance's story can be found as well as the excerpt at the link listed below: Huachuca Illustrated Roll Call: First Sergeant Vance Hunter Marchbanks
Vance H Marchbanks Jr Vance Jr born in 1905 in Washakie Wyoming. He was the son of Vance and Calie Halton Marchbanks. I found the 1920 census listing the Marchbanks living in Tennessee when Van Jr was fourteen yrs old.
In 1926, the University of Tucson student Vance Marchbanks Jr applied to take the exam for West Point. Junior was approved by President Calvin Coolidge.
The Academy was located in New York and is the number one Military Academy in the United States. Marchbanks, was given the opportunity. Why it had been many a year the last time a African American had been admitted to such a fine school. That man was Charles Young from Mays Lick Kentucky
As for Vance Jr some say that because he was the son of Sr that he had a straight ticket into the academy. Not true. He still had to get through and the challenge was the sign of the times. When Vance reported in El Paso Texas to take the exam in 1926 he was rejected for some unknown reason **wink,wink**. He then reapplied and was again rejected. This time the charge was because of his age. Little did they know that he was to become a better man because of it. Did he actually fail. Some say no, it was the bitterness of racism. Vance Jr graduated from the University of Tucson in Arizona, obtained his medical degree from Howard Medical School in 1937, and went on to become one of the Tuskegee Army Air Field Medical Officers. He continued on to make history: He also was a pioneer in the space program when he was the head surgeon when he monitored John Glenn in his journey through space. He collected vital medical information on the astronauts before during and after space flights.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Back Behind The Capitol With The Phoenix Arizona Crew

Its funny how people cross your mind as you lay in the dead of night trying to get to sleep. Now everyone I knew in Phoenix lived in the Mathew Henson's way back in the day. Later, many of us moved away to various parts of town, some of us moved out of town and back in again.
My family moved to Tucson where we stayed on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and then on Campbell Avenue.

When we decided to move back to Phoenix, my mom went back and found us a house. I remember Paul and Madge Harper,my mothers friend's and their daughter Gerty coming down to Tucson in their truck and helping us load up and move. That's when we moved back BEHIND THE CAPITOL !!!

In no particular order I am going to list all of the people I remember. Some we used to call by their Mr and Mrs name.
We always included both parents when we spoke of them in a conversation. Like " Do you want to go see if Mr and Mrs Mullins want us to go to the store for them", or Here comes Mr and Mrs Rayford, you better get that ball out of their yard!

The list goes on:
Mr and Mrs Edward Mays,Mr and Mrs Fred Hurd, Mr and Mrs Williams, Mr and Mrs Floyd Gammage, Mr and Mrs Jones, Mr and Mrs Herb Boyer, Mr and Mrs Patrick Grant, Mr and Mrs St Clair, Mr and Mrs Stenson, Mr and Mrs Charles Anderson, Mr and Mrs Honey Hutchinson, Mr and Mrs Cason, Mr and Mrs Hime Watson and Mr and Mrs Leroy Thomas.

Then we had those names like Aunt Tiny and Mr Turner, Harry and Jean Ong and their son Danny, The Higuera's, Mary and Jean at the store, The Renteria's Lydia and her children Carmen, Frances, Joe and Eva, Mary and her boys Freddie,Teddy and Tommy, Rev and Mrs Nicholson and daughter Carolyn, Judge Flood, The Hamilton's,The Dashers Howard and Louise, Mrs Allen, The Finley's, The Mosley's and son Ricky, The Worleys, The Counts, Beverly Williams and son David.

What about the Miss first names like Miss Bobbie, Miss Essie Lee, Miss Clara, Miss Dora, and Miss Anna laurie and those names like Mama and Daddy Wattie, and MuhDear.

Nicknames for sure: Lil Johnny, Nino, black Johnnie and White Johnny, Bayla, Reachie and Pie, Gold, Chubby and Chunky, Gate-Mouth, Suddie, Big Jimmy, Long Tall Sallie, Ghost, Sandy, Muncie and Porky, Junior, Punkin, Steve, and Alexander.
then there was Miss Shake-um-boodie, and Miss Nosey Mosie, (those two names were only between us kids. We would have gotten killed by them and our parents)

Remembering also Carlos Dominguez, Sue and Faye, Charles and Michael Ferguson, Hilton Conley, Diane Elzy, Freddie Carol, Ricky, Vivian Ann, Stephanie, Rosie, Eddie Lee, George Burden, Eula Faye, Ricky and Lawrence, Bertha, Lamon, Raymond and Daymon, Calvin, Orema, Eric, Patricia, Gloria Jean, Joanne, Herlinda, Sylvester, Ruthie, Betty, Michael, and Maryvula, Carlotta, Wanda, Olivia, Sheryl, Marilyn, Nate, Margie, Jack and Will, Jeannie, Freddy Johnson, Isalee, Lynne, Hazel, Ruby, Floyd, Paulette, Josie, and Herman, Sammy Diaz, Elroy, Randy Simms, Alexander, Lupita Sanchez, Nick Rivera.

Also Kids like Charles Parker, Darnell Hanson, Diane Hicks, Shirley Ghant, Danny Geyagos, Richard Peterson, Bertha, Ruth and Hazel Stinson.

Should I or should I not mention the behind the capitol bigots? Okay I convinced myself.
Mr Cheever was one and Mrs Wortham was the other. Mrs Wortham was the worse of the worse. The black kids at Sullivan did not stand a chance with that woman until the parents and the NAACP stepped in. The "she" bigot tried to flunk all the kids in the school. Ms Wortham was two hands away from getting choked a little bit harder than she was if Mr Edwards had not stepped in on time. Its funny that right after that meeting all those kids were suddenly promoted.

I know there are countless others whom I have not named but I know they are not forgotten. We made that part of town and it was all good.

Oh yeah, How could I forget Bruce, Ronnie, Richard, JuneRae and Teddy.

Long live the Triangle !!!

That hollow grass is filled with the sounds of laughter and do-wop songs. We would use whatever tools we could find to make music such as an old trash can with a lid. That was our drum.

We would break off sticks or use or hands for the sound. Combined with our voices in harmony we thought we were the best in the west.

Our parents knew where we were but if you heard that sound your parents made up to call you or if that porch light flicked on and off you better head home and quick.

He lived all up and down Jefferson, Washington, Madison, Adams, and Monroe Street. From 17th Avenue to 35th Ave. And what was amazing was that he was there all at the same time.

And Finally I would be remiss if I did not say "Rest in Peace Richard Cason" for you are truly in Soul Heaven

Sunday, October 30, 2011

School Days, School Days Dear Old Golden Rule Days- Booker T Washington Phoenix Arizona

I have to give my friend Erv Campbell for these wonderful class pictures from Booker T Washington School in Phoenix Arizona.

These pictures bought back some more good memories just looking at how we looked back in the day, remembering old crushes and as my blog states, lingering thoughts and loving times.

I am hopeful that more of these oldies will pop up and can be enjoyed by those who still grace this earth and those who can see what their loved ones looked like way back when.

Ms Hardy's Home Room: Class of 1955

Top L-R Benjamin Grimes, Lorena Morgan, David Phillips,need name, Fred Hogue, Margie Tolliver, Alfonso Tilly, the next two need names

2nd row L-R Eli James, Harold Gossett, Gerald Jones, need name, Teddy Lane, need name, Robert Strickland, and need name

1st Row is Ms Hardy, Shirley Robinson, Sam Unk last name, need the names of the next two.

Mr Mason's Home Room Class of 1955

top row from l-r Doris Henry, Easton Tolliver,Vernell Trulove,Fletcher Sanders, Valma Mitchell, Rufus Jacobs, Barbara Jernegan, Raymond Hamilton, Doris Ward

2nd row l-r Vera Turner, Lavern Reed, Shirley King, Wayne Hooks, Doris Miller, George Ervan Campbell, Birde Ann Jackson, George Diggs

bottom row l-r Wilbur Gamble, John Bell, Aubrey Young, Rufus Harris, Mildred Hendrix, Vernon Oquin!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

George Reed: A Father's Fight For Right After Korea Flight

On November 28th, 1951 George Reed welcomed home his son Thomas to sunny Phoenix Arizona.

I imagine there were tears in his eyes on that wednesday morning, as he proudly held his head up high. Those tears he shed could not have been the same tears shed when his son left home.

George could not get the hands on support of his other two sons. You see, they were off fighting a war in Korea and could not be home to see the arrival of their brother. Their brother, 19 year old Thomas had been in Korea also, fighting for his country.

Thomas Reed was a Phoenician who came home from the war accompanied by a military escort and a flag draped across his casket.

On June 5th 1951 Thomas was mortally wounded in Korea

It would be at least five weeks before George Reed saw his son rightfully buried.

George Reed wanted to have his son buried in Greenwood Cemetery but they had a policy that negro veterans had to have special requests from three sources to be buried in their military section. Those three sources was
The American Legion, The Disabled American Veterans and The Veterans of Foreign Wars. (click on images to enlarge)

A citizens group that was set up of members of the NAACP and The Urban league along with representatives had been fighting this custom for quite sometime.

Un-american nonsense they called it, and felt that any veteran, no matter what color or creed be buried in the cemetery if the next of kin requested it.

After fighting so hard and not getting anywhere, the Council had to go to the local papers to see what the community thought about this travesty.

There was such an outcry from the public.

George was proud of his son but he wanted not only this son that he lost so early in life to be buried with the other veterans and God forbid, if he lost another one of his sons to die fighting for this country he would want the same thing for them too.

George Reed wanted to have his son buried with other veterans. Not in the Veteran's cemetery in Washington but in Greenwood Cemetery where others of his sons peers were buried.

Mr Reed turned down the offer to have his son buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Arlington was such a long way away for this man to comprehend. At least now his son was home and any day of the week, hour of the day he could head over to Greenwood in quiet solitude and visit the son whom he loved dearly.

Chicago Defender Jan 19,1952
submitted by Thomasena Grigsby

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Westerner: 1953 Booker T Washington Yearbook Phx Ariz

What a great pictorial history when you have a yearbook from years past that reflect and highlight the people you know. I was over joyed when my friend Gerald Jones shared his sister Gloria's 1953 class yearbook.

I wonder where some of these people are today and what has happened in the turning point of their lives since leaving these halls of Booker T Washington School in Phoenix Arizona. What legacy did they leave for their families and communties be it large or small and did they carry on and appy what they were taught.

Gloria was the Editor in Chief of The Westerner and is the daughter of Reginald and Thelma Jones.

Mr Mason was my art teacher and also a member of the IBPOE of W on south 7th Ave where I was affiliated once upon a time. He is a wonderful human being along with his wife of many years Helen.

I wrote a prior blog where I had mentioned Ms Daniels my homemaking teacher. Ms Daniels has gone on to Glory now as well as her husband Haze Daniels who was a prominent civil rights attorney here in Phoenix.

These are the graduates from 1953 (click on images to enlarge)

Lee Limbs became a United States Deputy Sheriff. R.I.P. Lee

Everyone knew those Tucker guys Ned and Fred especially the girls who always said Ned and Fred in the same breath with "cute"
If those Vann's aren't related to Sandy Vann I don't know who is. I bet those are her aunts. They could all pass for twins.

Just a lil shoutout to George Jr son of George and Merry Hamilton Whitfield

A Booker T Washington Quote: Character Is Power
Library of Congress picture

a special thanks again to Gerald Jones for the use of these images from the yearbook. I wish that I could have posted more but they were too hard to see with clarity.