Friday, December 10, 2010

Hokey Pokey And Ballin' The Jack

Memories are awesome! Two old friends Gerald Jones and Hazel Landrum Williams both live out of town and from time to time memories come out of those conversations I have had with them and Erv Campbell. 

Hazel saw a picture I had posted on another site and asked me to keep them coming because it took her back in time.

I visualized the area of the picture I posted and thought of Eastlake Park, Booker T Washington School and Maxine Johnson! 

Maxine Johnson sure could sing so I thought I would dig around and see what I could find.  
If you were black you know that was the time you could sit downstairs and not in the balcony. 

Oh sure we loved the show but we know who we really came to see. We know that once we heard that little ball of fire singing we could sing right along with her.

First you put your two knees close up tight
You swing them to the left and then you swing them to the right
Step around the floor kinda nice and light
And then you twist around, twist around with all of your might
Spread your lovin’ arms way out in space
You do the eagle rock with such style and grace
You put your left foot out and then you bring it back
That’s what I call ballin’ the jack 

In a way, Maxine was supposed to be into Music. Her mother played the piano over at First Institutional Church and one of her brothers McKinley was in a band.

When Mrs Johnson could not make it to church to play the piano, her daughter Jerri stepped in.  I can imagine how proud her parents McKinley Sr and Jessie Johnson were of her and of all their children. 

I can't remember if her other siblings Shirley, Wilford or Jerri could carry a note, but I hear that Maxine's girls can really sing. 

Maxine has sung with the best of them, singers like Wayne Newton, Louie Armstrong and Louis Jordon.
I also found this clipping that was in the Pittsburg Courier!! Way to go Mack!

Maxine and I were in Ms. Crumps room at Booker T and also in Ms Daniels cooking class. 
As good as  Maxine could sing, if she did not put in the exact portion of flour or sugar that the recipe called for she could not sing her way out of the wrath of Ms Daniels. LOL

Speaking of Booker T and incidents, Mr Mason our art teacher let us out for recess early one day and a few of us went to the playground to play "spans" a marble game. 

Mitchell Wesley, Maxine, Leonard Caldwell, my cousin Patricia Grant, Mary Matone (the only non african american in the group) and me all had marbles. Well to make a long story short, Mitchell Wesley got beat by a!

The next thing I knew embarrassed Mitchell Wesley threw a rock, hit me in the forehead and caused me to bled profusely messing up my clothes. I can remember Fred Hogue and Ruthie Mae McNeely laughing.

When I got home, I got it again because I had worn a brand new skirt with the poodle on the front my mom had just bought the day before.
My skirt was now ruined and mom was fuming mad. Not only because of that but because I was down on my knees in the dirt playing marbles. (lol)

Its been years since I have seen Maxine or have heard her sing.

My friends tell me that she still belts out the blues like only she can. However I do think of her every year because we share the same birth month give or take a few days. Plus, she has a rare talent that has been enjoyed for so many years by so many people.

I hope some of the people we grew up with and have moved away will see this post, smile and remember the good times and don't forget to do the "Hokey Pokey" while you are at it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Phoenix Arizona: 19th Street and Broadway

I have been thinking recently of all the people I have known through out the years, and of all the stories I have heard and have reflected on. This blog is about those people and those stories. Some famous and some not so famous.

One of the memories that I hold dear are the friends I had in my various neighborhoods. We lived in several places but the one that comes to mind at this particular moment is 19th street which crosses Broadway Rd in Phoenix Arizona. My kids think that I have a finger that is stuck in a pointed direction because they say that every time we pass by, I point in a southerly direction and say " I used to live at that 4th house" and " Ole mean Ms Cross" Actually now that I think back, Ms Cross maybe wasn't so mean. She may have just been one of the keepers of the village and saw to it that I got my spanking, even though I knew I wasn't even doing nothing. Shoot, Ole mean Ms Cross! LOL

On Broadway there was an irrigation ditch that ran on the side of the road. We used to swing back and forth on a rope that we had tied to the trees.
We were also privy to gobs and gobs of pomegranates that grew freely all up and down the ditch.

Those trees contained a multitude of June bugs too. We would catch them,tie them with string and watch them fly. We caught lightning bugs and put them in a jar and lady bugs in our hand as we said that rhyme ' lady bug, lady bug, fly away home. We were always amazed that the lady bugs packed up and flew away as soon as we said that. Would I have done that if I really knew what I was looking at through adult eyes.LOL

Mr Brooks Brewer the man who lived next door to us sure kept a pretty yard. He was constantly watering his flowers. Now that I think about it, that constant watering happened when my mother who was gorgeous came out to talk to us kids. Mr Brooks Brewer would run out, cut on the water and smile. Sometimes the water would spray in the opposite direction because he was so busy smiling and not paying attention to where he was aiming. He never watered the yard when my step father came out.

Right across the street was where Dr Phillips and his family lived. I wonder what ever happened to Harry one of sons. He was rather nice looking with curly hair. As a side note Mr Phillips brother ministered at the church right next door to my aunt in Marshall Texas.

The Phillips had a huge house and lots of well known people used to take up residence when they came to town. One recollection I have is when Joe Louis came. He knew how to do magic tricks and all of the kids swore that the long colored ribbon really did come out of our nose.

Next to them was Henriene Holmes mother's house and then there was Ms Henriene Holmes.  Her children are son Harvey  and daughter Alice. For some reason I am thinking that Delbert Hodge their cousin, lived with them also.
With the help and many thanks to my friend Nina Jean Johnson, here is a list of some of the families and children who helped to enrich that street. (I say Nina Jean Johnson because that has always been what we called her, even after she became a Burton)

Remembering :

The two Murray Families, Curtis and Marcelene along with Eugene and Jean Murray , The Warren's, Brewster's, Mason's, Barnes, Griffin, and Bentley's. The Phillips, Lindsey's, Toi San and her mother Cleo, Ms Cross, Mr Brooks and Pinola Brewer and of course, Nina Johnson, Harvey Lindsey, Walter Jr, Marion, Leroy, and Dorothy Nicholson, Lucias, Ervin and Varon Potter, Delbert Hodge, Alice Holmes and many more.

Some of these folks I have seen over the years and some I know have gone on to Glory. Whatever road they took I am glad they were a part of my life.