A Day at the City Pool…

                        When we were told that the entire park was going to the local City Pool for a Fun in the Sun, we could not wait to get home and beg our momma for the .50 entrance. Asking your momma for such a short amount of cash like that was like asking for Black Unity, that shyt never happens… Have you ever been cussed out by your momma after she worked 12 hours and had to walk home from work? “Why is this TV so dayum hot; get yawl black azz outside.” Now the question you really wanted to ask her has to wait until she calmed down because if we ask at that moment, somebody gone get Serena Williamed (i.e. backhanded). While backing up just a lil bit, “Aye momma, caaan we have $20 so we all go to the pool with the park tomorrow?” Before a glass of Ripple, “Hell naw, yawl black asses can’t even swim. What yawl think money grows on trees up in this bytch?” After a glass of Ripple and one dem giggle sticks? “Here boy’s, come and get this money and I’m sorry, I had a bad day at work babies.” You see, she would say those things to keep us in line but at the end of the day, she would always give in.

                        There were no vans nor buses to transport us from the park to the pool so kids from Fisk Heights, Cove Gardens, Bazeltown, Emory Gap, South Harriman and the projects over by Springtime’nem house would all either gather at the park or just meet at the pool for our once a year trip in the summer. Once we turned the corner tweenst Tennessee Ave and Cumberland St and smelt the chlorine in the air, errbody took off (running that is) straight down that hill to the entrance. Screaming and yelling, oh I’m first to jump off the high dive, to another one slick talking to someone, “Hey you got .50 so I can get in…” And trust me, some did not make it in, they just sitting outside the gate watching everybody. “Myra, fill up that cup of pool water and splash it on my face, it’s hot as hell out here and break me half of dat chico stick cuuh.” If you didn’t have any money and no one would be willing to come off .50 for you, you had to sneak in, that’s just the way it was. We had kids who thought they could swim but were walking under water while swaying their arms/hands as if they were swimming, teeth chattering because that water was cold as whale nutz – Pause. “Hey yawl look, I’m swimming.” “Yo azz ain’t swimming, we can see your legs walking dummy.”

                        I’m not gonna lie, I was that kid that ran around the pool all day long but did not put a toe in the water because I couldn’t swim as a youngster. Well Ron had warned me that if he sees me running around the pool, wasting momma’s money, he was gonna throw me in wherever he caught me but that was the risk I was willing to take because the High Dive was the place to be. You had to be up close and personal to witness the highflying acts of Solomon… I’m not sure who Bill Mitchell is/was but there was a dive/move that was dedicated to this guy and Solomon did it with grace. It was a mixture of a two bounce, walking in the air while twisting your frame left or right, into a gainer while ending it with a can opener. Here I am standing there waiting to witness Sol do his patent Bill Mitchell move and I feel a power thrust gainst my back and swoosh, str8 in 10 foot, can’t swim a lick. You know the moment when you know you really done messed up, like getting all F’s on a report card in 7th grade. Maybe that was just me, anyway, when he pushed me, my neck flung back, chest went forward and all you heard was toosh. When I came up from the water, I was smack dead in the middle of 12 foot, half distance to the wall we non-swimmers hug the entire time at the pool. What do I do? I tell you what I did; I cried my azz off! Maybe the Lifeguard couldn’t swim, as I was thinking to myself because she was on that dayum high chair twirling that dayum whistle like she didn’t see my black azz flapping in the water like a catfish. I gathered myself and started kicking and moving my arms and the next thing you know, I am getting close to the wall and actually learning how to swim. Now it wasn’t a perfect stride but after dranking 2 gallons of chlorine and possibly pissy azz water, I made safe to the ladder. Once I got out that water, I wanted to beat his azz but I couldn’t. Ron had a way of pushing me to do things I was always capable of doing and for that, I am forever grateful.

 

                                                                                                                                          Rest in Peace Solomon Kenya Taylor…

Advertisements

The Battle of Roane County Choirs…

                Your church choir had better come with it on Sunday if you lived in Roane County. If your choir director did not know how to double clap when everybody else was single clapping, you might as well had let the old folks sing that Sunday. Truth is, no one wanted to hear the old folks sing back in the day. One would say that you must have musical instruments to have a great choir but you apparently don’t know the capabilities of Johnny Holler and da Eskridge family; led by twin sister’s Mae and Mary and cousin JC. Oooh, they would tear a church up without a drum set or a piano. Especially when Jason and cousin JC would sing Roll Jordan Roll or When I Die, I wanna go to Heaven… Mmm; I just had to stand up and walk away from this post for a second. JESUS!  You know you bad when you singing solo’s at age 7 in a Mass Choir, Amen. The next stop is Speight’s Chapel where you had to climb that long azz stairway to hear Valonda, Costella and Earlene an’nem… By the time you reached the Great Wall of Speight’s Chapel, and open those church doors to hear Valonda sing Liberty; you knew church was in session; Yes Lawd she shut it down!!!

                 Oh, it doesn’t stop there though. Let us travel to Kingston, to Braxton’s Chapel where Sister Billi Hamilton who is the President of the church choir would have her brother John belt out his favorite song, I won’t complain, so good that folks from Greenwood Street would leave they church to hear him sang. Now this is when it gets very serious, grab ya tambourines because we are going to Sanctified Hill in Harriman. For those who are unaware of this location; once you get past Blackmon’s house; you have entered Sanctified Hill. This is located tweenst the Triangle Park region; starting with New Century Baptist were Springtime ran the choir. You gotta be cold if your nickname is Springtime and have a voice that made the Mother Board holler out; TAKE ME NOW JEESUS when he sung Precious Lord!!! Now, I have never been into the Barksdale church; which was located next to Mrs. Bazel’s house but I’m pretty sure they put it down. You tend to have some churches that you gotta use the Cedric The Entertainer – Luther Vandross Jheri Curl phrase on… They just didn’t; they didn’t quite curl over when their program announcements were read over by the First Lady during morning service. Stay with me Jesus; I’m gone need one’nem Mahalia Jackson fans’ when I talk about why this area is called Sanctified Hill in the first place. We are at Mark’s Chapel, pre Believer’s Voice of Deliverance, where the Douglas Sisters are at the wheel.  Yeessss Lawd, when I tell you these sisters can sang, dey can sang… When Sister Margie get to playing that piano and her glasses slip down just a lil bit and she hit one of those repeated fast notes on that piano while her sisters are singing in harmony; oh somebody in the congregation GONE PASS OUT!!! One thing you bet not do is let Sister Margie sing a solo at a funeral, no lawd!!! She sang so good, she’ll make you jump in that casket with your loved one. Scoot over, I’m going to Heaven with you cuuz, lemme get a piece of dat pillow too playa…

                 Last but certainly not least; St Mary’s Baptist church where Sister Alicia is the choir director, Sister Bunny is on the piano, Brother Harold is on the drums and the Young Adult choir makes one; Amen and Amen. You could not just walk up and say you want to be in this choir, no sir, no ma’am… You had to put in work first. In order to get to the Young Adult choir, you had to start in the Sunshine Band and then onto The Junior Red Circle and just maybe, just maybe you’d receive an invitation to sing in Sister Alicia’s choir. The March into the congregation was spectacular, ending with the choir director steadfast tweenst the first two rows. If Alicia stood outside the pulpit box on Sunday and was standing in front of the In Remembrance of Me table; they had 3 new songs… She had to make sure that everyone in the choir was all eyes on her; like she was Tupac. You could tell when Jill caught the Holy Ghost because she showed her braces and rubber bands. We were on the front row, saying, “Look she got braces yawl and she light skinned.” Get the behind me Satan, I rebuke thee!!! When Alicia directed the choir to sing their new songs WITNESS and Salvation and Glory; Mmmm they would make the old deacon in the corner stand up and run around the church like he was gangsta walking at Skinny Miller’s… (Nightclub spot in da Holler, up da hill from Mrs. Weasel’s). I could never tell who had the best choir in Roane County but one thing is for sure, we had many talented singers and at any given Sunday, you would witness a blessing from those who are truly gifted.