Sir & Wickie

Sir & Wickie

Originally uploaded by jayfherron.

My grandparents on my fathers side were my favorites. It was’nt as much as they were the ones that offered more of a blast when you visited-no,it was they were different.
We called my grandfather ‘Sir’….everyone,I came to learn,called him that.
He married my grandmother when she was 17 and he was 32. This is thier wedding picture-it is spliced back together,I think my grandmother had cut it in two at one time. I don’t think it was as perfect a marriage-I recall as a kid that ‘Sir’ had told my grandmother to shut up and that happened to be the first words he had said to her in twelve years…true story.
We called my grandmother Wickie.
She was an old southern Louisiana gal from Morgan City-but lived a lot of your younger life in New Orleans-where my father was born.
In my life of being around my grandparents they lived in downtown Washington DC. My grandmother lived in the same apartment for nearly 40 years and as long as I had known her she stayed reclusive and indoors all of the time.
Sir never drove a car. As a matter of fact they never had an automobile. There was’nt much need Iguess-the street cars ran in front of thier building and after they died out the buses did the same-so transportation was right there.
But whenever it was a special reason a taxi was called.
I remember as a wee boy thinking my grandfather was a special man because all of the taxi drivers called him ‘Sir’…and he called them ‘Buck’…if they were black drivers,which most of them were back then in the fifty’s. I later learned my grandparents had a terminology regarding black people which was the reminants of thier life and time-Wickie…her mother,who was called ‘Gump’,grew up around black children whose parents indeed had once been slaves and remained on to work for thier once master-now had Gump for a boss,and my grandmother grew up in a very segragated time-as did Sir.
I can’t recall Wickies birth year but Sir was born in 1899.
My grandparents lived in Washington when Martin Luther King gave that special memorable speech…”I had a dream…” I remember being there at my grandparents then-where as before my cousins and I would be given bus tokens ( they called it ‘car fare’) and we’d be sent out of the way to downtown to the Mall where all the big buildings and the Smithsonian were. Not this year-we were confined to the building-thats what they called the apartment building-and forbidden to go out for fear some ‘Buck and a She’ would grab us. Thats what my grand parents called black people…Bucks and She’s. How calous I feel loving two people that refered to human others as such a derogatory term…how much I hated it when I realized I was being raised in a bigoted way-I had no idea until I stepped out into life alone.
There was this little kid I was in elementry school with named Coy. He was a colored boy my age-we did’nt care…but one day we were walking home from school and a pick up truck with some men went by and one of they men threw a piece of a brick at Coy and it hit him in the face and cut his cheek real bad and Coy fell to the ground and cried and held his bleeding cheek….and the pick up truck had turned around and came back to add more injury.
There was Coy-the men taunting with his name ” Coy Coy the nigger boy”….we were all frightened-we were just wee kids,second or third graders.
And then one of them started in on Coy about was he so stupid he could’nt get out of the way of the flying brick,all Coy could do was cry-all of us were crying by then. And the man could’nt understand Coy between his sobs and trying to answer the question….and thats when the man started yelling at Coy…
“you call me SIR” …”you call me SIR”.
It was very confusing times back then.
I looked at that ugly human being and wanted to claw his eyeballs out for using my grandfathers name like that.
I remember back then watching the television and seeing all the stuff in Alabama and Mississipi-seen more than one should had to see-the violence whites put on the blacks-the cruelty…the intentional cruelty. Its that vision that sticks in my head everytime I see some hip hop guy wearing those goofy shorts/or pants? and thier base ball cap on side ways and thier underwear up above the belt line…I see all the violence and struggle the old south went through to find an equal meaning to being born equal.
I was in high school when Reverend King was shot. We lived right out side of DC then-I stood in our back yard and could see the glow of the flames from the riots in the city. It was tremendous seeing that.
About a year later I marched with Reverend Ralph Abernathey being in the lead of several thousand people circleing the nations capital chanting to end the segragation of the races and end the violence.
My grandparents were’nt bad people. They grew up in an era we know hardly anything about except the history-we have no idea what it must have been like to be Wickie as a little girl growing up in a huge old southern mansion and being around the little children of the once slaves and then later house servants…and not being able to play with them.

2 Responses to “Sir & Wickie”

  1. Artie Wayne Says:

    Jay…How ya’ doin’? Thanks for inviting me to share this story. You know how to paint a good picture!

    Thanks for your comments on my blog today on “My Brief Encounter With Martin Luther King”

    Regards, Artie Wayne on the Web

  2. Mike E Says:

    As far as loving your grandparents despite their bigotry…I guess we gotta do that sometimes — love people despite their faults. Can you blame someone really for not knowing any better?


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