Cry of Beauty

Subtitle

THE STORY OF ZO--A NOVEL IN PROGRESS

 

 

                                            THE STORY OF ZO

 

No copies or reproduction may be made of this book without the express written permission of the author. This book is protected under all domestic and international laws protecting the rights of authors and publishers.

 

Heb Press

PO Box 694

Decatur, Ga  

30031

copyright  2004

 

 

Hzal Fudge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Central Ave             

 

I

was born before man ever set foot on me.

Just a small trail started by fleeing deer, rabbits, chased by wolves and lions. Next came  the wind  sailing down me pushing leaves or rain forming puddles on top of me . Occasionally birds stopped to drink. Then came men running after animals and each other. Hiding behind one of the many trees for cover from an enemy or lying in wait to kill and trap food. Slowly they came, season by season until they had driven away the grass. Pulling away the twigs and brush until they had made a trail.  I became a face on the land.

The

Indians called me the portage path because they carried their canoes over me on the way to and from the river, the Cuyahoga and the Tuscarawa, a branch of the Muskingum. Some of us trails or pathways disappeared as civilization took hold. Cities did that.  I became a roadway in a growing city called Cleveland. For a long time most of us were just dirt paths.  Then when wagons became popular we were widened and flattened out into definite shapes. Trees along our edges were cut down. For a while we didn’t have legal names. I could hear men talking, saying things, “go down about  a mile, there’s a big maple tree with some  big yellow daisies around it and a coupl’a apple trees on the other side that’s where you’ll find ‘ol Zack’s place, he got the best apple cider and corn likker around.”  Even back then alcohol was my best attraction. Zack died and for awhile it was quiet. . Then the city of Cleveland was born, incorporated in 1836 and the city and its streets were made legal. My first name was Ohio ST.  Some years later right before the civil war I became Central Ave.  Cleveland had grew a lot by then. Had leading citizens. Had industry on the lake. Lake Erie they called it. A shipping center. A railroad crossroads connecting people and goods going further west or into the Dakota’s or maybe even Seattle or Southwest going to Chicago, St. Louis or Denver or California.  If you were going South then you would go down through Columbus to the queen city on the Ohio River Cincinnati and cross the bridge into Kentucky. Years earlier Cleveland had become an important port city after they built the canals that connected it to the ocean. Boats came from all over the world but that was years later.  

I

remember when all the people had settled on a street called Euclid Ave and it became the main street.  It became known as millionaire road. The Roosevelt's, the Carnegie’s, the Mellon’s, and other pioneering families of the late nineteenth century and twenty century called it home. Rockefeller Park still winds it way through the heart of the eastside. Thomas Edison Electric powered the electricity. They said even back then you could take a horse and buggy east on Euclid Ave and follow that road straight through to New York. I didn’t go anywhere near that far. Maybe ten miles or so then I intersected with some other road stopping  me from going any further.  After the war some men built a train right over me.  Every couple of days I would hear that whistle and then it thundered over me. Slowly over the next forty years people started to build little houses on my edges. So many different types of people, the Irish, the Italians, the Jews, the Hungarians and free black people. It seemed like the whole world descended on me all at once brought in by 

Mr. Rockefeller’s oil refinery , the salt mine in the flats, the steel mills melting iron ore, the screw factories, shipping and railroads, auto manufacturing. Cleveland had become a major city and I, Central Ave was at the center.  

Some

of the first  people were white folks until after WWW 1, then came the people  who were more like me. They had just begun to feel like they had a name. That they could be somebody. We were similar, we needed room to grow so we could get to know ourselves. What our potential was and where we would end up.  It was just a few at first. A black man from Mississippi with his wife and six kids. A grandmother, grandfather, three sons and their family, thirty-one in all. That was the Thebes family. Grandpa Thebes was a minister. Started out on Thirty First St , years later in the late twenties the family moved up to Eighty First and Central. I always liked the Thebes family although they suffered some mighty tragedies later.  I seen them all.    Watched their families grow. Heard the nites when they talked about their disappointments and heard their joy when so and so got married or had a baby or who had just got in town. Heard them helping one another get adjusted to the North. Saw all the houses going up, apartment buildings.   A factory on sixty third , another one on seventy first.  I remember when the horses started to disappear and automobiles started making their way.  I remember my shock when the factories first started, noise day and night. I remember angry faces and voices of white men talking about black people moving into their neighborhood. When did I become a neighborhood? “ This is Central Ave and we built this for our people” that’s what the white peoples voices said. I never could figure out what was wrong with them. Nobody before had tried to own me or fight over me. The deer and Mohawk’s and Mohicans and Algonquins never said anything about owning me and certainly wouldn’t ever have thought of fighting over me. But then maybe this is just the way civilization is. Anyway the black people just kept coming until the white folks just gave up and walked away. Some of them stayed, said they were going “to make people out of the newcomers who didn’t know the first thing about running nothing and would need their help.”  Well, I’ll say one thing, maybe what they said about these folks being from the South was true but they weren’t as dumb as the white folks made them out to be. I remember hearing them laughing about how they had tricked this white man or that white man. What they had taken from Mr. Charlie and sold to one another, they called it hustling.  One thing I liked about them was they liked to laugh. Yeah, I seen them all. I knew the kid who would become the first black mayor of any city. I knew his brother. Church’s were built and nite clubs were opened and restaurants. They had a game they played that they invented called numbers. It was fun and serious at the same time. Everybody got involved in it even the police. Some white folks somewhere said it wasn’t legal, said they was gambling. I don’t remember nobody complaining when the white folks would sit outside the factory at night and play poker or when them rich white people built them two race tracks Northfield and Thistledown.

There

were black carpenters, the Blade family in particular; plumbers like Oscar Dent , Amel Flowers, and others,  and some of the best bricklayers you ever seen. The wind blew barbecue smoke down Central, that would be Floyd’s Cookin 2 Plez on seventy eighth. Seeped right  through them bricks they had placed on my face. I didn’t tell you about the bricks? Red bricks.  Before they straightened me out I ran all the way down to the river then to Huron and Erie St  which became 9th st. Now from ninth st where I began to eighty ninth st where I ended. It was the automobiles. Whizzing up and down the road. They could go anywhere there was a road and some places where there wasn’t one.  I could still hear the noise but it was more muffled and I couldn’t see at all. But I never forget a voice and I could tell by the pressure on my face how big the person was. I got so good that between the size of the foot and the 

sound of the voice and what other people said about them I could almost see  what they looked like. I also felt the frustration of the new comer. Like me sometimes they had almost no control of their own destiny. Like a bunch of ants just sent out to run an errand or something. Don’t do nothing really just stay out of the way. Sometimes the frustration became to much and I would hear them fussing with one another, sometimes it got really bad like the night a man name Jimmy caught his woman with another man at the Paradise, that was a bar on seventy fourth. He killed the man,  then he killed the woman. When the police came after him he killed one of them. They finally caught him hiding in a garage. They took him to jail where, I heard some men say. they beat on him until they killed him but the newspapers said they found him in his cell dead. He had hung himself with a rope. There was a lot of talk on the street about that, a lot of angry black folks because they knew what really happened but couldn’t nobody do nothing about it.  I guess that’s why I took to these people because like me they had nobody to speak for them.

But

we had many good times through the years and I remember them all. The

thing I liked about them the most was the music that came out of them. On the piano or from the mouth of a horn, the beat of the drum and their fingers making the way over the strings of guitars and bass fiddles and then they would open their mouths, big and wide and pour their souls out in front of their world.  And this same sound could be heard in the pictures they drew and the words they wrote and in their religious temples a spiritual sanctifycation, if there is such a word, would occur that transformed them and catapulted them for a time into  dimensions of escape from the world of misery heaved upon them. I loved Saturday night’s raw emotions served up as blues and Sundays revival of the holy spirit. It made both of us happy.

Then

one day I heard a horse and a wagon. I heard a man hollering: raaagman, raaagman. I didn’t know what to make of it. It was a low , moaning sound, like a train whistle only it was a man’s voice calling from a wagon. Everyday except Sunday he was hollering raaagman, raaagman. Soon I got the picture he was buying and selling rags. He was a big man with big feet, and he was hard from a hard life. A life time of lifting heavy things. Every now and then he would talk to another man in another language. I found out it was French but around other people he always talked the way they talked. I thought that was interesting. Like I said these people were no where near stupid just had they own way about  doing things. Something about them was exciting. I had a feeling something was going to happen, not now but later only I didn’t know what but I knew. In the fifties after WW2, right around the same time as the Korean War they shut me up completely.  They had come up with something different to cover me. Tar. Asphalt they called it. The trolley was being replaced with buses. Rubber and asphalt changed my look forever.

There

was a time when these streets here really sang. In those days the people had rhythm. They knew what they had to do, all the people and they worked together.  Every house on every street was busting at the seams with this family or that family. Grandma and grandpa, aunts and uncles and cousins. Kinfolk all piled together in one house sometimes as many  as twenty or more. Most of the houses were two family or what they called doubles.  The Phillips, the Jones, the Smiths, the Stone’s, who owned the first barbecue joint, Ralph and his brother Notell opened the first photography shop; a woman from Kansas everybody called Billie loved flowers and shared them with everybody until later in life when she got old and charged folks outrageous prices. . Because of the factories most of these businesses opened  on a street called Cedar which was one block North of Central Ave. In fact the two streets

were always spoken of in one breath as if they were upper and lower Khamit. That was a long time ago when I was young and the world smelled fresh. The list went on and on. We finally got black baseball players and League Park was no longer used as homefield because a stadium was built downtown by the lake.

The

last thing I heard was about somebody name Zo coming to town.  After that everything went black I couldn’t see or hear anything just kinda get feelings from the roots of trees or the water that seeped through if it was dirty or clean, had blood in it or other stuff, like alcohol or drugs. The liquid mixed in my soil carried emotions, I used all that I learned about people and began to decipher the liquids and all that they contained. Slowly I began to understand this new form of communications, especially from the roots of the trees and the grass or shrubbery.  I was developing a sense of smell too.

Soon

I would be able to tell what’s going on again. I had nothing but time to work out the meaning of things.  At least I know who I am. My name is Central Ave. I am at least seven hundred years old counting from the time when the deer started making me and Indian’s lay in wait to trap and hunt around me.

The name Zo stayed on my mind. It struck a chord with me.

 

 

 

                                                                        CH 1.

 

It was the hand of love that made all the difference, that gave me direction, my first step.

“It’s the first step that counts the most“, that’s what my grandmother told my mother and she told me. “ Everything that happens to you after that can be traced back to that first step.  Aint no sense in complaining then it’s too late. Yo steps, yo road, yo life and it goes fast.”

“ Remember that Zo, life goes so fast don’t seem like it but it does.”

My momma words were ringing in my head but we had already decided to do this and wasn’t no turning back now no matter what anybody said, this was going to be our first real step good or bad.

It

was a warm morning when Thackery and I run off together, left Union City, Georgia and hopped trains all the way to Cleveland. Thackery said some black men in the NAACP, had come South recruiting workers to work in the mills and plants.

The

train rattled and bumped, blowing smoke as it whistled at the top of its voice. Other men and women also rode the train. Nervous energy could be felt as the cold filled the car driving relentlessly into the snow of the Midwest. As we neared Lexington we changed trains. We had to jump from the train and make our way across the tracks in the dark of night and enter the cars marked colored only. It was cold. Thackery said it was colder in Cleveland.  I couldn't imagine it. And snow. More snow than I had

ever seen.  The further north we want the more snow I saw. It was frightening.   

Cincinnati

Columbus, and finally the terminal in Cleveland. We had all stared out the car windows as the lights of the city outlined a number of shadowy skyscrapers. The swirling snow seemed to force the sun to go down adding to our already heightened apprehensions. Beyond the banks of the tracks stood the tallest building we had ever seen. The terminal tower loomed above us like a symbol of hope. The train entered into the underground terminus and we all departed together black and white. My feet touched down on the broad marble floor.

It

took us almost an hour to retrieve our bags. The first thing I noticed was no for colored only signs. No white only signs. Blacks and whites went to the same bathrooms. At a drugstore that had a small restaurant I saw black people eating at the same counter as  white people. My nineteen year old eyes were big as saucers.

Thackery's too. We followed the signs that pointed us up to the ground floor. An ascending marble hallway  about twenty feet wide. The ground floor was part of a department store, Higbee's, on the right and on the left the hotel and offices of the Terminal Tower. More that seventy stories high it was the tallest building in the world next to the Empire State building in New York.

I

felt the rhythm of this metropolis. Outside the world awaited our new beginning. Thackery took my hand and we went out one of the twenty glass doors.

White

light seared our eyes. The light from the streetlights and the headlights bouncing off the snow. The little flakes of snow seem to be attacking us. Then the cold hit us. I have never forgotten that cold. It was like a fist going up my dress and hitting my thighs. I had on my thickest stockings and a long dress and an overcoat. The fear showed in my eyes. Thackery was holding me tight but I could feel the cold in his arms. His face was flinching. Cold always made water flow from his eyes. The tears froze in his mustache. For the first time he seemed not so much a man but a twenty year old unsure what he should do next. I certainly didn't. He said we had a future in Cleveland. He said Union City was a farming town and he wasn't going to be no farmer or lick the boots of white folks. I loved him so I listened. Now we were standing on a sidewalk in a strange downtown seven hundred and fifty miles from home. Across the street, in the city square,  two men on  unmoving horse’s seemed to give us a cold stare as if daring us to move. Iron statues. An emerging crowd from the department store pushed us forward into the street as the light changed. The crunch of the snow turned to slush as we stepped off the curb. My little boot shoes sloshed. I held Thackery tighter. I never forgot that cold. The icy wind. The hustling crowd.

“Thackery where we supposed to meet this man?” Zo’s voice was thick with cold.

“The Superior Building.” he answer as if he didn’t want to open his mouth to let anymore of the cold in that was already attacking every part of exposed body. “I guess I better ask somebody.”

A white man gave us directions. We were on Euclid Ave. We needed to ”walk down about three blocks and cross the street. Couldn't miss it.”

We

walked the three blocks. It was almost eight o'clock. We had been traveling since last night. We had got on the first train at eleven.

I hadn't slept much I was so excited. Now I was tired. And cold. Frozen. My feet felt like blocks of ice. The Superior Building. It was just a big old building. It looked better once we got inside and warmer. I needed heat.  It was a long atrium. No walls but open space with all kinds of shops. It looked like a racetrack with floors and railings.

The faces of the shops stared back at us.  Waiting for the next day for the race to begin.  Four floors high all lit up. The ceiling was about a hundred feet up. Down a long staircase on the bottom floor seated in a square we seen all these colored people. A man was speaking.

Thackery pointed at the man standing in front of the group,  “That's him. That's him. Com'n.”

Our bags flipped and tossed off our legs and body as we nearly ran down the steps. My long legs moving as quickly as Thackery's. We were nearly the same height. He was tall with plenty of muscle on his twenty year old body. His daddy said he was just like his great grand daddy. " Just like my grandpa for the world, hopes you stays around here. Grandpa was killed by Indians. Walked across some sacred burial ground up in the  Dakotas. My granma said she knew the whole thing was a bad idea but she couldn't stop him. You got his name but sho hopes you don't be so strong headed as that man was. Said one time he stayed out all night trying to break a wild horse. Did to after about two days. Him and that horse, Old Bay he called him, were inseparable."

 Well, Thackery was just as stubborn and even more adventurous. Had been to the ocean twice before he fifteen. The first time his daddy whipped him good. Soon after that a squirrel hunting trip went from two days to two weeks. He wound up in Arkansas fishing and hunting. Thackery's curiosity about people and places filled his soul. He had to go.

Zo

was different. Liked home. Loved her momma and her daddy. She was an only child so she had a big imagination. She always daydreamed about going places and doing things but just never had the nerve. She listened to Thackery with her eyes closed. " Whaddn't you scared?" "Naw", he would always say. And then go on. He talking and she listening. They had decided soon after they met in high school when his family moved there from Waycross, Georgia that they would always be good friends. Friendship became love. It took a lot of talking for Thackery to convince Zo to leave home. He told her life was no fun without adventure. Beside what would they do here? Up North black folks was treated with respect. Remember what Auntie Jane said about Chicago. And what about her cousin Robert. Came home right after World War 11 and got into trouble with them white men. And he had on his army uniform. They made him take it off and walk home. He left that same night. Said anyplace was better than this. Philadelphia. His momma say she leaving next summer. He sends her money all the time. " Look around", he said, " so many people have already left. Everyday the men from the NAACP coming round begging folks to come up North. Take a look they saying. Jobs and housing. No "for colored only signs". "If we don't go now might not be nothing left by the time we makes up our minds.  Besides I can't take care of no wife and children here. I always be itching to go. Shoot, who knows I might run off and leave you and them babies." I couldn't resist his smile and his sense of adventure as he called it. We decided to leave in a month. I told my momma and daddy. It was the first time daddy ever hit me. He hit me hard. Knocked me down. " Stay away from that fool boy and his crazy ideas." My momma picked me up and took me to my room. " You can't go baby. You can't. How we gone help you. Watch our for you. Beside it would break your daddy's heart. He always thought that when you got married he’d give you a piece of this land. Its been in the family since the nineties. And what about college. He wants you  to go to school. Make something of yourself" All I could think about was how bad my head hurt from my daddy's hand. The hand of love. I knew then I was leaving. Two weeks later and here we are. A little earlier than we had planned but to Thackery's sense of adventure this was perfect.

Joe

looked us up and down, as if maybe we had been hurt or something,  “Well, it seems as though the last of our newcomers has arrived. Welcome. Mr. Mission come sit 

down right here.

 

We

joined a group of about forty others who were going over a list of arrangements and filling out paperwork.

Joe handed Thackery his papers, “You know how to write don't you Thackery?”

Thackery was a very prideful person.

Thackery  voice contained a hint of having been insulted, “I graduated from high school when I was sixteen. Third in my class. My best subject was math.“

Joe handed us the forms. It was an application for work.

I

whispered to Thackery:" I thought you said they was begging for people to come up here and go to work, why they got us filling out papers?

Thackery said, " I don't know Zo but just fill them out."

Joe Cameron was going on and on. Helping some with their paperwork. One man in particular, an old guy with one arm took forever to complete his paperwork. The signs of the devastating war were common. Men with body parts missing, a leg or an arm. Some still haunted by fresh nightmares of the hellish war. Zo was thankful it was over.

Joe stressed the importance of each aspect of the situation, “Each of you has been assigned to housing. A number of our people have agreed to housing arrangements paid for in part by the companies that are hiring you and the rest by grants given to the NAACP .Your first month is on us. After that you're on your own. Be smart. Work hard and stay out of trouble. Cleveland is a fine city. Seventh largest in the country. Decent neighborhoods and decent schools. A good place to raise a family. Its libraries, museums, and parks are among the best in the world. And it has a fine black theater called Karamu. Langston Hughes spent a number of years here and is considered one of our finest black  writers. Anyway, take these numbers and soon you will be escorted to your new residence. I expect to see each of you tomorrow at our downtown headquarters to go to your job assignments. Bus passes are in your packets. Don't lose them. They’re only  good for a week. After that you have to provide your own transportation. Same with your meals. Does anybody have any questions? Nobody? Well, this must be the smart bunch.”

I

looked around the room, most of the people here were nearly our age except for the old man. The next hour passed  with many of the people having small talk and meeting one another. It was nearly eleven before the first of the owners showed up to take there new residents to there home. I was exhausted. I was awakened by Thackery standing next to a short, lively eyed woman well into her forties. Thin with a straight mouth. We were on our way.

 

 

 

                        ch 2.

 

" This is the route you take to get to that job", Emma said. “Trolleys don't run after eleven down Central, that’s the name of the street down on  the corner  where the bar is. This is seventy fourth street. Its a long walk from fifty fifth up to here." Handing Thackery the note she turned and went back downstairs.

We

lived in the house that was the fifth one from the corner. Paradise Bar was on the corner. The grocery store was only a block down the street from the bar to the left. The laundry mat was across the street from the grocery store. A barbershop was next to the laundry and next to that was the chicken house where you could get a

fresh wrung neck chicken for fifty cents. Small's barbecue stood between that and the bar. Behind the main street ran an alley, fish and chicken was sold in the alley way at the third door on the right. She also had the best skins in town. Two days and Emma had showed them the most important things in the neighborhood and what trolley to take downtown. Streets were torn up because buses were just beginning to replace the trolley cars. They had met Sam who owned the chicken house. He also sold other fresh meats but chicken was Zo's favorite.

Zo’s face had the look of a child, “Thackery you think maybe when you gets paid we can have us some steak?”

 ”Steak! What ever for?”

“To celebrate, what you think.”

Thackery trying to take on the role of a man who thinks responded, “Maybe. I got to see how much they taking outta my check to pay all these folks back.”

“Pay'um back? You mean we got to pay back that rent money and that seventy five dollars?

Thackery sounding too mature ,  “You didn't think all this was free did you? Show we got to pay it back. We grown now Zo. Everything we get we gotta  pay for it, lock stock and barrel. Aint nothing free in America. My daddy always told me everything has a price so be careful what you buy into. Especially free things.”

“What time you got to go to work today Thackery?

“Same as yesterday until they change my shift. But they said that'll be a couple weeks cause I'm still in training.  They  showing me how to use a welder and  now I'm doing a lot of frame work.”

“ Any women out there?

“ Sho’ they's women out there. Not to many but a few. Working in a automobile plant is hard work. Not many and aint no woman of mine gone ever work like that.”

“ I aint said nothing about working there. I don't know what I really wants to do.”

“ Look Zo, I'mmo take care of you so's you don't ever have  to worry about that. You just take care of these kids we gone have.”

“Well, before we start talking about a family and all we needs to be married. I aint having no baby until I'm married. Aint going to bed with you either.”

The

second floor of Emma's house had two bedrooms, a kitchen, living room, dining room, a second floor porch and above that a two room attic. Thackery had brought a bed and a table and a couch from the third floor. Emma said it belonged to her uncle who had died a couple of years ago. There was also a dresser but two of the drawers were missing. Thackery had promised Zo he could repair it and find two other drawers to replace the ones that were missing. They needed a stove , a refrigerator and utensils. Looking over the list Zo stared periodically out the window in the living room. She and Thackery slept in different rooms. He slept on the couch while she slept in the bedroom. The smell of the coal in the vents when it first came on stung her nose. At least they had heat. She kept it on eighty. The cold still went all through her everytime she went out doors. She counted the times. Three times in two days. This was the third day and she swore not for any reason was she going back out there. November third and it was already just ten degrees and over a foot of snow. She hadn't seen a foot of snow in her whole life. Thackery was bundled up with sweaters and overcoat and boots. She watched as he made his way down to the corner, crossed the street and within a couple of minutes the trolley showed up to whisk him away.

Zo

drifted off to sleep. She was at her momma's house in the kitchen. The smell of yams and greens and chicken. Water cornbread and brown rice, momma's favorite. Don't know why but she never liked white rice. Poppa had his usual old smelly garlic and

breaded okra. We was eating and laughing and having a good ol'time....

“Zo..Zo.. girl you hear me?” (bam bam bam...).

Zo awoke with a start. It was Emma. What the hell she want knocking like that? Zo opened the door and smoke rushed in before Emma did.

Emma’s face was all sooty “.kit..kitchen. I set my stove on fire. We got to get outside. Together the two women made it out. Smoke poured from the backdoor as they stumbled out into the freezing afternoon chill. A few minutes later a fire truck roared into position. Within minutes the fire was out. Zo was again freezing as she shivered under a blanket thrown over her shoulders by a neighbor. Emma's kitchen suffered more from smoke and water damage than actual fire damage. Zo hadn't noticed until now how much Emma talked. She talked incessantly. She had been frying some chicken and went into the living room to listen to the radio. She must have dosed off when she awoke to see flames dancing on the wall. She threw a pot of water on the flaming fire spreading it onto the rear wall." “That's when I panicked and all I could I think about was that poor child on the second floor," she said over and over. It took Zo the rest of the evening to warm up again. Thackery was less excited once he realized that Zo was ok and hadn't caused the problem. The only other thing they had to deal with was Emma's mouth. The fire was on Tuesday and it was on Saturday while they were at the laundry mat that Emma finally put in her last words on the subject.

 

      

                            CH 3

 

“Two

weeks-two weeks and I aint heard nothing-don't know where she at-she gone with that boy. O Dothan why you go and hit that child like that. Cooked and sewed and cleaned just like you wanted her to. Child never caused no problems-she was ...sweet, now you done drove her off. Why men act so crazy sometimes"? she said out loud to her self.

"Why? I'll tell you why. I gave her the hand of love right across her big fat mouth. That boy aint no good. He's a dreamer. She's a day dreamer. Sitting roun' here imagining all kinds of things. What they gone do fly up to the sky. That boy almost twenty ain't he"? Dothan had just come in from gathering pecans and over heard his wife talking out loud to herself. Answering himself, " now you tell me how many twenty year old men dreaming about what a black man gone do in this world. Huh. He don't work. His own daddy raise hell about him and his do nothing attitude. Going down to the liquor joint pissing his self away. Boy won't help with farm work. He aint gone be no farmer. What he gone be. Graduated from high school at sixteen. Sixteen!" His voice rising up several octaves. “He aint stupid. Thing is the boy is smart. Too smart. He needs to work. But he aint experimenting with my daughter. That's why I gave her that love hand."

"But she gone anyway. Maybe they be all right. We didn't have much when we started, remember?"

" I started out early being a man. Seventeen. It was different then. I don't know why in the hell everybody think I don't know what's going on in the world. I can see. Things is harder now for a black man than ever. And before it's all over it's gonna get a whole lot harder. Mark my words. Run down to the church see if the reverend can save you. Listen to me, my grandpa told my daddy and my daddy tol' me. Don't ever think the white man aint coming back to get what he think he done lost. Them people killed a whole bunch of Indians to make this land white. Do you think they gone let a bunch of us nigguhs take it from them. My grandpa and my daddy told me land, land is the secret weapon. Fight for the land boy that's what white folks do. But your daughter and that silly boy, Thackery, that she thinks is a man, wants something different. Twenty, thirty, forty years from now all them nigguhs running north with they children leaving