Shoe Shopping with my Mom…


Have you ever been thumped upside yo forehead by your momma with her middle fangah because you didn’t like the style of shoes she purchased for you with her hard-earned money? Reach yo head up hereTHUMP now say something else bout deez dayum shoes again!

But momma, imma get my azz whooped tomorrow if I wear these shoes to school… You go to school to learn and not for a fashion show boy… Well that may have worked for you when you were going to school momma but it’s the 80’s and people don’t buy shoes at Pic n Pay anymore, erie body goes to Edwards Shoe Store on Roane Street.

You see Edwards Shoe store had all the latest brand name shoes and cleats. They had a pair of Tony Dorsett cleats I wanted so bad!!! I begged my momma to buy me a pair to play football in but she hit me with.. To play football in? Boy you won’t even tackle your dayum shadow and got da nerve to ask me for some shoes that cost $40, negro please!

I was used to the tough criticism so I brushed it off and found myself day dreaming about the cleats that I wanted so bad… Mmm, I can see myself running for a touchdown with deez all white Tony Dorsett’s with the Dallas Cowboy Star on the side! All da light-skinned girls will be calling my name and erie thang.

My daydream would be awaken with a Deacon Jones smack upside the forehead by my momma, talking bout.. Take yo goofy azz outside and play boy… There were levels to our shoe game as a kid… We started out with Pro Champs then onto Cougar shoes from Pic n Pay to Reebok’s onto Nike shoes but when my brother Tim would come into town, he would have the latest style of shoes and I would be green with envy.

However, one particular summer before 6th grade, he came down and had a cold ass pair of black crush velvet hi top Jordache shoes. I was floored when I saw them; I mean Tim could rock anything and he would look good doing it… He said, don’t worry lil brother, I bought you a pair too. Wow, you bought me a pair!?!!? I slapped dem crushed velvet’s on and turned’em sideways and said imma kill deez suckas da first day of school with deez boyz!

I couldn’t wait for the first day… I walked in the gym to sign in as a 6th grader, legs shiny from all dat baby oil I slapped on and dem crush velvet’s were brushed to perfection and when I sat down, dey killed my ass!!! I mean, burnt me to a crisp yawl.. Negro is dem girl shoes you got on? Naw maine, deez boys shoes, my my my brudda gave dem to me… Naw cuz, dem is girl shoes and they velvet too, HELL NAW! Aye don’t touch my shoes, LEAVE ME ALONE! The entire gym was rolling at my ass, I mean that was the longest day in my life at school..

You know when you have a hole in yo sock and you put that other foot on top to cover that hole so no one else can see it; well dammit that’s how I sat the entire day at school. Shoes had me sitting cross cross applesauce all day long! I couldn’t wait for that dayum bell to ring!

Do you remember Forrest Gump when he dropped his son off at the bus stop for his first day of school? Well he didn’t want his son to endure the tough criticism he received as a child but the little feller told him he would be just fine and introduced himself to the mean bus driver. Hi, I am Forrest, Forrest Gump… I think we all have had that moment in lives where we wanted to steer our children away from making bad decisions we made when we were in their shoes right.

Well, I have a son now, I took him to the Nike Outlet and said pick out any shoe you want son, and he said eh, mmm, hmm I don’t like any of these shoes daddy… I said, boy look at these Jordan’s, don’t you like them? They’re okay, I guess – and we eventually agreed to purchase them for his first day of school.

When we arrived home from shopping, there was a big box on the doorstep and it read: To Da’Ron From Granny Shelia and he eagerly opened the box to find all types of school supplies that were on his list, Thank God, right parents? Well at the bottom of the box were a pair of Walmart – Bruce Lee slip on shoes and he said Whoa, look what Granny Shelia bought me, I love these shoes and said I’m wearing these the very first day of school! So I let him wear these shoes and when I walked him to class, 85% of the kids in that school had the same style of shoes.

Thirty plus years later, my mother still enjoys shopping for shoes; not for me but for my son and I am thankful for that kind gesture. Its something I hope and pray my son will tell his children about the Bruce Lee slip-ons he received one day.


Cake Table and Mean Lunch Lady…


              In order to maintain the cake table, the church had to put the mean lunch lady in charge of the table which was sitting to the side of the Fellowship Hall, over by the old piano that no one ever used. Now the mean lunch lady also served as the disciplinarian of the church, so she was very well aware of the thieves in the church.

She wore black stockings with all white Sassoon shoes, you know da ones with the Pee Wee Herman heels, all white nurse’s outfit and she meant business upstairs and downstairs… She would make her rounds during devotion with a loose program and demand that you spit out your chewing gum while the deacons sang and prayed. She was so smooth with it, no one ever knew she was slick cussing us out one by one but she did… Thought I told yawl ashy knuckle Negroes no moe charring gum dering Devotion, spit it out and I mean now!!!

We obliged and gave up the stash but we knew that cake was in store downstairs… However, she would be waiting on us at the bottom of the steps… Listen up you dayum Hall’s; what we ain’t finna have all you heathens running around trying to sneak extra pieces of cakes today, ya understands me!!!

This was not a question, this was a statement and we were very well of the repercussions that stood before us had we been caught and best believe me, we were going back as many times as we could. Hey, you nappy headed lil phucka; how many cakes have you had already? Umm just one, buh buh but my momma told me to come up here and get her a coconut cake that Mrs. Pat made.  Come up he’un one moe time and imma smack you so hard that you gone find out who yo real daddy is…

             I’ve always wondered how many cakes St Mary’s made for Homecoming. It had to be at least 37 because we had over 1000 slices at our disposal. I mean the table would be set with all types of delicious cakes and as soon as you take one, they would put another one right in its place. You be licking yo fingers saying “Dayum they just put another slice on the table yawl and it’s a red velvet cake this time.

I bet Talyon’s momma made that one. She look like she can make a Red Velvet cake. Why you say that cuz? Because she light skinned and she look like Claire Huxtable and she smell like fresh peppermints. You see, I always judged the cake by the person, my peers considered me a Cake Connoisseur. Now, Mrs. Pecola made the Carmel Pound cake, because it was short and thick with that tan icing on the top. PREACH BOY! I’m trying to do da best that I can…
Okay, who made the German chocolate cake?
Oh Aunt Deb made that one but you gotta eat one nem cakes fresh out the oven because if you eat one cold, its like eating oatmeal on dark skinned bread. Ahite Ahite, so I bet you don’t know who made the Sock It To Me cake… WHAT!?!?! I can tell by the way the white icing drips thru each crevice of cake cuz.. Don’t nobody narramate that cinnamon and pecans tweenst dat Yellow Duncan Hines mix better than Aunt Oneida…

Then there was the Lemon Meringue pie, which was prepared by Mrs. Alberta. That was one nem old folks pies that we never ate. Here boy eat this pie, I don’t want that old ass pie, it smells like Mrs. Alberta’s house. What does Mrs. Alberta’s house smell like then? Funky ice, like she needs a box of baking soda in her freezer and fridgerator. I was never a fan of The Peach Cobbler or Apple Pie.

I just didn’t like the fact of wet fruit mixed in with my cake. Ms. Ciola used to make dem Carrot Cakes while Ms. Juanita would bring dem two layer chocolate cakes, you know the one where you can’t breathe after you finish eating them because it got too much chocolate on it so you beat your chest like you the Incredible Hulk trying to breath?

           Now that we are grown; and have moved from the comforts of our home churches, we notice that the Fellowship Halls have changed. I attend a Mega Church and I honestly can say that I’ve never been invited to a Homecoming dinner, Pastor’s Anniversary or an Usher’s Tea. So I reflect back on the good ole days and thank God for the mean lunch lady and the cake table. Without those events in our lives, we wouldn’t have received the structure from our elders. It takes a village to raise a child and my mother understood the mean lunch lady’s tactics so she watched from a far in hopes that one day her kids would understand the difference between right and wrong.

My Best Friend…


              The term Best Friend in Webster’s Dictionary states that this person is the first person you go to when you need to talk about something and that they are very special people in your life. I would have to agree because we would call one another to discuss the most random things that either happened to us or to someone else. Mostly funny calls, “Aye, what you posed to do if one’nem check cashing places call you and tell you dat you can renew your loan for $37.48? Shyt, I’m on my muhphuckin way is what I’d say… What you said, ain’t got but $2 in my account as it is and I already owe them fools too… Show me da muhphuckin money!!! Ahite, and why you bullshytting, by doing dat, dey’ll push your loan back for 30 moe days, BAM!!! How odd and strange our conversations were, I miss them immensely.

You see, it’s been close to 2 years since I lost my best friend and a day does not go by that I do not think about him. I try to refrain from posting my thoughts daily on social media because Lawd knows we have been on the other side of a post and say to ourselves.. “Now dammit, if they post one moe picture of Lil Knuck Knuck; I’m deleting the whole dayum family…” One of the last conversations we had together was that if one passed away, we would keep our memories to a minimum on social media. We’ll here is my minimum for my best friend and brother named Xavier Timothy Dynale.

Ok, I don’t know why our momma decided to give all of us 2 middle names but she did so yawl can kiss Orlando Tony Tirrell, Ron Delvron Lamar, Xavier Timothy Dynale and Donavon L. James’ asses lol. Hell, I still don’t know what the L. stands for in my dayum name. In fact, when Tim was born, she wanted to name him Casper! WTF!!! She said that the Doctor was the one who flat out told her “No the hell you ain’t finna name this chocolate headed baby Casper, you gone get his azz whooped daily ma’am.” So she gracefully named him Xavier Timothy Dynale..

                It was around June 1974 when I dropped my bottle and stood up in that hammy down playpen we had and said to my momma, “Where da hell is he going woman!!!“  My Uncle James and Aunt Nellie would always visit during the summer months and holiday seasons but one particular summer in ’74, they laid eyes on Tim and asked if they could take him home with them, umm, for a couple of weeks. Well our mother had no quarrels about this request and agreed that they could. Later in life, I had asked Aunt Nellie who else was in that playpen and she said, “Well it was just you and Tim, it was sort of, as if yawl had a bond since day one but your Uncle James just loved him some Tim and bless your heart, you were an ugly child. Oooh I mean black and ugly, baby… So black, we thought you were a lump of coal with nappy azz hair… I mean you raised your hands to be picked up as well, and God rest James’ soul, because he didn’t mean to blurt out what he was thinking, but he said Get yo muthaphuckin hands off me ole black azz heathen, oops… Ok, ok, ok, I get it; forget I asked that question.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, Tim’s summer visit turned into a lifetime with Uncle James and Aunt Nellie and we all wouldn’t have had it any other way.  He became the son they never had, minus the son Uncle James had from his sidepiece back in da day, which no one ever knew of… You see, sidepieces are not new to this culture, the old folks just called them what they really are which started out as Floozies, the onto Skanks, then to Skeezer’s, then Chicken Heads and now the politically correct name, Sidepieces…

               They lived on Tennessee Street in an upbeat city called Kingsport. It was very different from the country living we were used to in Harriman. Hell, anything was different from the Projects in Harriman. However, our only source of travel, out of the county was by the Greyhound Bus to visit Tim. I never knew what a transmission was as a kid but always heard our mother cuss her car out because of it… “Stupid azz transmission always slipping, I can’t wait for income tax to come out so I can get a new car. Bought this dayum Cadillac from Reece azz (R.I.P.), he know he wrong for selling me this piece of shyt…”

The only moment I recall while riding on the Bus was when I locked myself in the restroom and the bus driving had to pull to the side of the road to unlock the door. The look on my momma’s face was priceless. Now mind you, I’m sweating and in tears because I done locked myself in that tiny azz bathroom for 20 minutes and I felt as if that was a dramatic moment for me. Momma clinched her teeth together and pointed to the front of the bus, “Go sit yo ig’nit azz down right now!!! So help me Gawd; the next time you gotta piss on da Bus, piss on ya dayum self…” You know that look when ya momma looks up and claps her hands while laughing/talking. Saying things like, “If we were not around all deez white folks, I would beat da shyt out dis boy right now, oooh stay with me Jesus, mmm…

Despite the travel issues, when we arrived, Tim would greet us with the biggest smile and each year he would show me something brand new about the city he resided in.


Throughout our adult lives, we have called each other at least 5 times a day, just to shoot the breeze i.e. chat. The most important call I received was when he told me that he was going into surgery to remove a Brain Tumor on December 30, 2011. He waited to tell me the night before surgery because he did not want me to freak out. He said I’ll be ahite buddy, it’s a in and out surgery that has to be done and I’ll be back at work in about 2 to 3 weeks. I personally believe that God stepped into my brother’s recovery room one night. You see, he could not walk and barley could talk and needed assistance to use the restroom. Well one evening, he said I gotta use the restroom and I stood up to help and he said no, I got it!!! He gently walked over to the restroom, shuts the door and he begins to cry out to the Lord saying, “Jesus, you didn’t have to do the things you have done for me, so I just want to thank you Jesus, I want to thank you for everything you have done for me.” Then he begins to sing to the top of his lungs… “There’s a leak in this old building and my soul has got to move…” He passed on March 19, 2012 and as stated earlier, I miss him immensely. I am thankful for many things in life and one thing is for sure, I am thankful for having a brother that I call my best friend.

                                              May you Rest In Peace Xavier Timothy Dynale Hall…

Holidays with the Hall’s…

           There’s a new fad that is running rampant amongst the younger generation called Knockout, ever heard of it? It’s when a group of teens unsuspectedly run up to you and punch you so hard that you pass out or i.e. get knocked out. Fads are recyclable whims that take their place in society but had the younger generation experienced Real Life Events such as my siblings and me, they would tend to show a more respect to others. Unbeknownst to my siblings and me, my momz introduced this so-called game to us when we were lil rough elbow azz kids. You know, the elbows where your momma tells you before you go into church to “Lick yo thumb and moisten dat crusty azz skin before you cut somebody.” Disciplining us was non-stop, especially during the holidays… Have you ever been smacked so hard after you opened a gift you didn’t won’t on Christmas morning? I’m talking about a smack that made yo momma’s wig turn sideways. Don’t get it twisted, the smack was very painful but it was the adlib she would say after the smack made your ear sting for 17 extra minutes. You didn’t mean any harm because all you said was “a scaaarf?” Keep in mind, she done worked her fangerz to the bone for that scarf and you hit her with a question instead of a pleasant comment. Oh yea, a smack to the back of da head was of the utmost importance. Hit you so hard you get up and go answer the front door… “Did yawl hear somebody knock on the door?” “Nah, that was me smacking yo ungrateful azz upside the dayum head, looking like yo ashy azz daddy. You know what, take yo black azz back to yo room and let’s try this again.” Now you in your room sitting on the bed with that hiccup cry talking to the birthday boy “She she she neen have to smack me like that Jesus, lie lie lie like I wanted a wool scarf and shyt.” While wiping tears from your face she hollers out “Get back in here and open up the rest of these gifts boy!” Even though you done got smacked for talking about the present you received, you had to be on high alert because you didn’t know if she had one more to grow on waiting for you round the corner. So you walk back in the front room (living room) with that I don’t know if this dog gone chase me stance… You know the stance where you walking and you see the mean neighborhood dog named King that done broke loose from his chain… Grasping your hands together; whispering silently to yourself, shyt, King loose today, so you walk past ever so gently before he senses fear. Talking bout, “Mrs. Lucille an’nem need to chain dey dog up.” That’s how we felt when our momma done went upside our head while saying “Now act a fool again, got me looking like Harriet Tubman with this lopsided azz wig on my head.

           The good Lord blessed our family with an amazing Grandmother named Cecil Ivalina Hall who was the matriarch of our family. She was a religious, soft-spoken grandmother who lived her life to the fullest, treated everyone she met with her southern way of respect; you know, smile and greet with a hello. She also ruled with an iron fist so I can see where my mother and her siblings received their determined way of parenting. When moms would say, “Yawl get dressed, we are going to Momma Cecil’s in a few.” Oooh it was on then!!! You see, this was our family reunion, this was the day were all of our cousins would be up under one roof. Yea we were there every weekend but it was something special about Christmas. You had to make sure your Pro Champs were laced to perfection and your outfit was clean. You couldn’t let Raymond out dress you on that day. (Light skinned cousin who got both his momma and daddy in the same house, mawphucka). Like most families, we had our share of light-skinned cousins but there was an unwritten rule within the Hall family. If you were light skinned but lived in the projects, you were treated as if you were dark skinned. That meant; you had to sit at the side table with the rest of your black azz cousins. Try to grab a plate and jump in line first if you were dark skinned if you want too, “Uhm what you think you doing; get to da back of the line boy! Yawl know the rules round here; Jason and Jeff are first, then Raymond, Tyson, then the rest of yawl light skinned project kids. Now the rest of yawl dark skinned kids can just fall in line but put Donnie azz at da back. While in line, we slick sizing up the pretty boys in the front i.e. Jason and Jeff because they are the light skinned cousins from out of town. You know the cousins who only visit during the holidays and never got cussed out by our aunts like we did. Here we are, “Dang look yawl, they rocking da hi top Pony’s, got da fresh outfits from Merry Go Round, both they flat tops look like Big Daddy Kane and they smell like they den where uncle Tony keep all his VHS tapes at cuuh. Man they doing it!!! Aye cuuh, where you get dem hi top Pony’s from? How much they cost? Can you touch da rim in those? You know, typical questions we ask our cousins who have both mother and father within the household.

         Despite the lack of wealth we had within the Hall family, we were rich in many other ways… Our grandmother would always preach family values to us in hopes that we would carry on in life. In which we have for the most part. The good Lord called her home on September 27, 1993 and I can honestly say that a day does not go by that I sit back and thank her for the wisdom, spiritual wealth and lastly, the wonderful times we shared on Old Valley Drive. You see, those days are a distant memory, because now we are the parents and we are the ones who carry the torch she lit on December 15, 1915. Speaking on behalf of your grandkids and even the light skinned ones, Momma Cecil, we love and miss you!!! Happy Holidays to everyone, if you are blessed to have your grandparents in your life today, call’em up or visit them and thank them for lighting your torch.

Momma’s Rules…

            Have you ever got yo azz whooped while in the bathtub? Ooooh once dat belt bust thru dat bubble mix and smack yo skin, you know she meant bidnez! All you hear is, “Thought I told yo azz not to fall asleep in da bathtub!!!” Now I am trying to figure out if this is a question or a statement she is trying to make but by the time she drew back for a second dose of wet skin, I got my azz up real quick. Then she calls her sisters up and says, “Girl, I knew something was up with this ig’nit azz son of mine. I walk in the bathroom and dis negro dead asleep in da dayum water, all I see is lips and nose sticking out tweenst dishwashing liquid bubbles. Ooooh gurl what did you do? I beat his azz like he stole something. Boy came running out dat bathroom sliding on the floor like one’nem Soul Train dancers…” Out of all the whooping’s we received as kids, nothing compared to getting our hair combed before school and church. You see momma had rules and one rule was that we would all line up in the hallway each morning to receive a hair whooping. She would break out dat big azz comb that could straighten out any nap AND we had those project naps. You know the ones were you done played football all night behind Ms. Jessie Mae house and or those 17-mile walk naps, which are the ones, were sweat mixes into the base of your neckline making it very painful to comb.

           Some would say, well why didn’t you run water over your hair before she combed it? Well, we had another rule too, “Touch dat water faucet if you want too.” Looking back, I think my momma’s water bill had to be no more than $8 a month because she was quick to say, “Two of yawl get in dat tub together and don’t drain dat water out either, yo other brother’s gotta use it.” Dats when you look at your brothers and run to da bathroom quick to be the first one in line because ain’t nothing like durty azz water touching yo skin. Another rule for us was “Who got da dayum Frigerator door open? Yawl bet not be in dat dayum Frigerator.” Now I can understand where she was coming from, raising 4 kids and all and trying to maintain a budget. However, there were times were we just had to defy her rules because dammit we would get hungry in the middle of the night… You know dat noise your stomach makes in the middle of the night when you just hongray as hell!! The one that sound like this, PEEEEE OWWWWNNNN and ends with a rumble.  Well one night I just had enough of it and snuck into the kitchen and slowly opened that frigerator door and saw a big azz family size bowl of sliced peaches, just naramating in that thick syrup. She was probably making a Peach Cobbler for church or something but all I wanted was just one, maybe two pieces. Surely, she wouldn’t miss 2 measly ole pieces so I dipped my pointer and thumb fangerz in dat bowl, grabbed one real quick and wranched in for another one. While licking dem two fangerz talking to myself, mmm dat 2nd one was good and cold. I looked up and there she stood, she was on the other side of the frigerator, looking down at me and she said in one’nem stuttering imma whoop yo azz voice, “Oh oh oh oh, so so so so you hongray huh? You wanna dip yo ball scratching azz fangerz in my peaches I gotta make foe da church tomorrow? Yes, I iiiii mean no ma’am. So so so so since you hongray, eat all deez dayum peaches reeeattt now!!! By this time, err body is awake in the house and my brothers are in their rooms rolling!!! Once I finished eating that big azz bowl of peaches, she gone holla out, “Now take yo black azz to bed!!!”

           We never understood why we had rules growing up but whatever our mother said, well dammit that’s what she meant. Now each family has a different set of rules to abide by, some less strict that others but in the end the most important thing was not to back talk your parents. In our case, it was our mother and Mister. We never really formed a great relationship with Mister because his rules were straight out of a scene from Roots. Hell, I thought I was a slave up until I turned 8. Saturday mornings were designed for kids to get up at the azz crack of dawn to watch your favorite cartoons, i.e. School House Rock, Bugs Bunny, Mighty Mouse and the list goes on. Well Mister’s rule had to be the dumbest rule in the book. He attempted to tell us that we were not allowed to get out of bed until 10am on Saturday mornings. WTF!!! I mean the Thundercats came on at 9:30 cuuz and we shole wasn’t finna miss Lion-O, Tygra, Panthro and Cheetara, he done lost his dayum mind. You see, Ron and Mister never got along with each other. It wasn’t that Ron was disrespectful to him, he just didn’t take any mess from Mister and or anyone else who attempted to treat him like trash. Have you ever seen a 10-year-old beat up a grown azz man? Well we witnessed it first-hand. Maybe Mister had a bad day at work and thought he could walk in the house and take it out on us while our mother was at work. Little did he know, Ron had a bad day at school that day as well. Mister walked in like he usually does, checks the temperature on the TV set and began shouting obscene words. Tired of yawl stoopid azz kids watching MY TV and so forth, you know typical shyt. Now, I know people may be wondering or saying to themselves, wow, these boys’ parents are very brutal to these kids. Well, black mothers say this because they can and sometimes have to in order to get their point across. Is it right? No, but it is what it is. However if she married someone who is not your father, well he has no right to use those derogatory words towards kids if they are not his, especially if they are doing everything that is asked of them to do. It’s an unwritten law that most abide by. Well this silly sucka tootsie roll mawphucka sure didn’t and a 10 year old man-child was gonna show him first hand that being disrespectful to kids that are not yours don’t fly well in this camp. Mister approached Ron, attempting to take off his belt while saying “Imma teach you how to follow rules round here” but Ron wasn’t having that, he kicked Mister square tweent dem Buddy Holly glasses he wore and broke them in half.  Now Mister can’t see but he seen dat combo upside his head and I ain’t talking bout McDonald’s b/c dey ain’t neen have dem back in da late 70’s…

          Residing on 514 Mee Drive was a wonderful experience; I would not trade it for the world. It taught us how to remain calm in adverse situations while providing tools on becoming great fathers. Are we perfect? No, not by any chance but with the guidance of a strong woman’s will, we are passing the torch to our next generation. A special shout out to my Momz and brothers on this post, I love yawl with all my heart.  

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…

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.