My father passed away on Sunday, April 12, 2015 quietly in his home at the age of seventy-seven. He went to church, came home, hung up his suit, took a nap and went to his heaven. The pastor said his sermon that day was about Heaven and I think ole Henry was just ready to be there. Three years ago in February he had a coronary bypass graft and we were afraid we might lose him even then, but that didn’t happen and we were given a few more years of precious time with him.
For six weeks in 2012, I was able to spend time with him while he recuperated from that surgery. We needed that time together. He was a great storyteller. Most of the way I helped was by listening to the stories he shared with me about his life and events that occurred in the 1950s and 60s, the social injustice of the era. Inspired by his stories, a cousin’s stories, and a ledger he knew I had discovered in 1992, I came home and on April 12, 2012, I began to write a book. I would love to share those stories with you.
I appreciate the life and time he gave me. May he rest in peace.
My husband is, like my father, Henry Koone, was, a not-so-anonymous recovering alcoholic. I attend open meetings with my husband and one of the things they say in the rooms of AA is,
“Do not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.”
When you bury the past and fail to look back you miss the opportunity to grow and learn, to develop insight and character. While it may not be healthy to dwell or live in your past, in it there are lessons we will find nowhere else.
Experience, strength and hope!
The Promises go on to say, “We will comprehend the word serenity and know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole outlook on life will change. Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.”
I watched my father go through some dramatic changes over the course of the past fifty-four years and I learned the meaning of forgiveness.
He taught me about unconditional love.
I learned from the experiences, strengths and hopes we shared.
There is much social injustice in this world but change begins with each and every individual. Looking back at the past, in the manner that my historic novel does, it is my hope that the reader can recognize the harm of social injustice, oppression, poverty and ignorance, and perhaps develop some insights, in addition to being entertained. It isn’t a preachy book, but one that tells the stories of those who lived in an era we must move forward out of, never forgetting the sacrifices of those who came before us.
“A fictionalized true story of life in the Deep South during the time of Jim Crow Law, and before Roe vs. Wade. Women were supposed to keep quiet and serve, abortion was illegal, adoption difficult, and racism rampant. The discovery of an old ledger opens a window into the dynamics of the 1950s-60s.
Unspoken secrets are shared between Beatrice, The Good Doctor’s wife, and Moses Grier, their black handyman. The Grier’s daughter, Althea, suffers a tragedy that leaves her family silent and mournful. Her brother, Nathan, a medical student, looks for answers from a community that is deaf, blind, and dumb.
A summer romance between Nathan and Sybil, an independent, high-spirited, white woman, leaves more unresolved. Nathan is thrust into the center of the Civil Rights Movement. Sybil is torn between living the mundane life of her peers, or a life that involves fastening herself to a taboo relationship. Witness social progress through the eyes of those who lived it.”
In the novel, “Red Clay and Roses”, Sybil and Nathan, an interracial couple, must find a suitable restaurant in which to dine in Atlanta. They needed food, but no sit-down service would accommodate them in 1954. They ended up at The Varsity, a drive-in restaurant that I will be showcasing today.
Many younger people today cannot begin to understand or relate to the oppressions of the black/African American race in the 20th century. Although the Civil War was over in 1865, and African American slaves were set free, the oppression of people of color lingered with prejudice, particularly in the Deep South, south of the Mason-Dixon Line. The Jim Crow laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965 . They mandated de jureracial segregation in all public facilities in Southern states.
Some examples of Jim Crow laws are the segregation of public schools, public places, and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms, restaurants, and drinking fountains for whites and blacks. The U.S. military was also segregated. The new laws in 1965 did not change much for a very long time in the South. I was born in Georgia in 1960 and my schools were first integrated in 1971, when I was eleven years old and in the fifth grade. We are; perhaps, the last generation in the U.S.A. to be forced, by law, into segregation.
As for public places, restaurants were some places that had a very serious policy of segregation. Whites and blacks did not dine together. Blacks could cook and serve the food, but weren’t allowed to dine at the whites only establishments. Even after the Jim Crow Law was abolished in 1965, many made their establishments; schools, restaurants, and nightclubs, “Private” or “Members Only” to skirt the law. The Drive Through service restaurant really didn’t catch on until the 1970s.
In-n-Out Burger claims to have built the first Drive-Through restaurant in 1948.
Sierra Vista, Arizona, was the first city to have a McDonald’s drive-through. The first McDonald’s drive-through was created in 1975 near Fort Huachuca, a military base located adjacent to the city—to serve military members who weren’t permitted to get out of their cars while wearing fatigues.
Before the infamous Drive Through service, Drive In service burger joints had the market on quick service feeding frenzies. These offered a drive up curb service where patrons were often met by girls in shorts or short skirts on roller skates in the 1950s.
One of the earliest and most famous was originally named “The Yellow Jacket,’ Now, The Varsity, it was established in 1928 at the corner of Luckie Street and Hemphill Avenue in Midtown Atlanta. Its founder, Frank Gordy, a Reinhardt University graduate, briefly attended The Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) but dropped out in 1925. Then, as now, the restaurant catered heavily to Georgia Tech students. The present structure, on North Ave. now covers two city blocks, and boasts to be the world’s largest Drive In restaurant. 600 cars can be accommodated at The Varsity at one time in a multi-level garage. In one night, they served 30,000.
One of the best-known employees at the Varsity was Erby Walker, who worked there for fifty-five years until he died in 2008. He started at the Varsity at the age of fifteen sweeping floors, and was nearly fired on the first day, but soon graduated to the kitchen. Mr. Walker was noted for his ability to move the service line quickly, especially during the rush period right before a Georgia Tech football game. His signature catchphrase was, “Have your money out and your food on your mind, and I’ll getcha to the game on time!” He retired in 2003, but came back three weeks later. That year Walker was inducted into the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau Hospitality Hall of Fame
Along with ‘What’ll ya have?” the Varsity staff, as was common practice, developed their own jargon when calling out orders. Being a restaurant with an open grill, the customers could overhear the staff’s slang and eventually began adopting it as their own when placing orders. Recognizing that the customers enjoyed being ‘in on the joke’ the Varsity eventually began listing its items with both their conventional and jargon references on both their overhead and printed menus.
a hot dog with chili and mustard
same as a hot dog
a plain hot dog in a bun
a naked dog with mustard and ketchup
Regular C Dog
a chili dog with ketchup only
a naked dog with ketchup only
a naked dog with mustard only
same as a yellow dog
a hot dog with extra chili
Walk a Dog (or Steak)
a hot dog (or hamburger) to go
a hamburger with mustard, ketchup, and pickle
a hamburger with chili
a hamburger with mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato
Mary Brown Steak (or Dog)
a plain hamburger (or hot dog) without a bun
a plain hamburger
a naked hamburger
Sally Rand Through the Garden
a naked hamburger with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise
a Varsity Orange without ice
a frosted orange shake
coffee with cream
pure chocolate milk (always served with ice)
a P.C. without ice
All The Way
with onions (on a hot dog, hamburger, etc.)
Bag of Rags
a bag of chips
order of onion rings
onions on the side
Varsity Orange, the original carbonated orange soda drink
In the novel, “Red Clay and Roses”, Sybil has occasion to dine in one of Atlanta’s most famous hotels, The Hyatt Regency, which was relatively new at that time. While atrium hotels and rooftop restaurants are commonplace nowadays, such was not so when the hotel first opened its doors in 1967.
The crowning- literally crowning- glory of the hotel was the Polaris. The revolving rooftop restaurant was an instant hit; everybody who was anybody had to take the space-age elevators up for lunch, dinner, or just plain gawking. As children, we saw the futuristic rooftop as the coming of our own personal futures, a “Jetsons” cartoon come to life.
Atlanta has grown by leaps and bounds in the past forty to fifty years. There were few tall buildings there in my childhood, as Atlanta tended to sprawl rather than to build upward. Dwarfed now, by the skyscrapers built up around it, the hotel was once one of the tallest buildings in the downtown area at 22 stories.
John Portman’s vision for the Regency was simple; it would be a world-class hotel where none had ever existed before, and its architecture would be so distinctive that the hotel would need no further recommendation as Atlanta’s premier place for visitors to stay. From the outside, the Regency went up as a fairly severe 22-story box that gave very little hint of what was to be found inside, until one looked up at the roof. Where most downtown buildings have nothing whatever, the Regency had a shimmering blue Plexiglas bubble of a revolving restaurant, known then and now as the Polaris.
It was only upon entering the hotel that a first-time visitor saw the considerable lengths to which its designer had gone to make this the most memorable hotel of its day. Portman had taken more than a few cues from an architect he respected highly; his respect was well-founded, since the architect was Frank Lloyd Wright. Portman’s first and greatest homage was to Wright’s Johnson Wax building. Its modern glass elevators were also a hit, and many would come to tour, just to say that they had ridden in a glass elevator.
The Regency is unusual among iconic Modernist buildings in that it is still in use for its original purpose, still owned by its original owners, and all the considerable renovation and addition it has undergone has been at the direction of its original architect. The hotel is now twice the size it was originally; a circular bronze-glass International Tower was added in the 70’s, and 1996 saw the addition of another tower that neatly duplicates the original 1967 facade of the main building. The hotel has evolved in décor and amenities; the first iteration of the rooms was Sixties basic. The Polaris Restaurant still exists for diners today by that iconic name. Today, Hyatt offers visitors rooms ranging from businesslike-but-cozy to sybaritic. The staff has functionaries unheard-of in 1967 Atlanta, among them a concierge.
The progress of reality: The purpose of my book, “Red Clay and Roses”, was, through storytelling, to explain how things were during a particular era in time. Many have read the book and enjoyed the read, but some took issue with the one page, “Afterword”, which was meant as a sort of disclaimer.
I do not advocate pro-life or pro-choice with the writing of the book. The book’s storyline simply indicates options available for women in relationships which resulted in pregnancy during a time when options were more limited than they are today and the dilemmas they faced in exploring their options. Women’s reproductive rights and responsibilities are explored through the telling of individual’s stories in another era in time. There is also a significant amount of racial tension and angst in the stories.
In the “Afterword” I quoted Mark Twain when he said, “Racism, Chauvinism, and Religion are the three greatest evils of mankind.” I went on to say that the bloodshed in the name of these three things is what makes them tangible evils.
That offended some, and that is okay.
I am not anti-religious, but I am not religious. I do believe that many have died in the name of religion unnecessarily.
In many Eastern cultures there is a concept of non-duality. I have studied many religions from Baptist to Methodist, Judaism to Islam to Christianity, multiple Hindu to multiple Buddhism ways of thinking. It all gets very complicated. There are many shades to the concept of non-duality. In my concept of non-duality, we are all one people with one collective consciousness. When harm is done to one, it not only harms the one and the doer, but harms the whole of humankind in the universe, because we are merely a microcosm in this universe.
The internet is a good example of this non-dual “collective consciousness”. This interconnectedness. It is not limited to Earth, in my opinion, but the entire universe. God made it all, whether we believe in science, spirituality, or both, in this country, we are allowed to believe or not believe this is true. In western culture, with many faiths, there is an interconnectedness wherein individuality is retained, and mind, body, and spirit are interrelated. Social creatures that we are, we are not exclusively individuals because we are influenced by other individuals and their reactions to our own selves.
Non-duality is not to be confused with transcendentalism wherein there is inherent goodness of both people and nature…I believe inherent evil and wickedness do exist.
In the Christian way of thinking there is a spiritual union with God. While I am not a practicing religious person, I do have this spiritual union, this interconnectedness with God.
There is a New Age movement confining dogmas with a worldwide view of science and spirituality. It is inclusive and pluralistic. While I agree with some of this movement, I am not in the practice of soul searching. I am quite content with the soul I know myself to have, although I feel that I am enlightened every day that I live and breathe.
According to David Loy, “When you realize that the nature of your mind and the Universe are non-dual you are enlightened.” Non-duality is almost non-conceptual, not easily graspable in an idea. One eastern culture gives a metaphor of the essence function of non-duality: a lamp and its light. They are the same and they are not. There is body and there is function. I am a lamp and its light. We are one!
Another feature article for the settings of the faction novel “Red Clay and Roses” includes the FDR State Park in my home community of Pine Mountain, GA. Sybil had a couple of occasions in the novel to visit the park. I could not mention the place without first mentioning the man for whom it is named.
Born on January 30, 1882, in Hyde Park, New York, Franklin D. Roosevelt was stricken with polio in 1921. He became the 32nd U.S. president in 1933, and was the only president to be elected four times (now Presidents are only allowed two terms). Roosevelt led the United States through the Great Depression and World War II, and greatly expanded the powers of the federal government through a series of programs and reforms known as the New Deal. Roosevelt, a lover of nature and forests, had parks and other structures built all over the U.S. by the group of young men called CCC boys (Civilian Conservation Corps) to give them jobs during the Great Depression.
Though not a part of FDR State Park, The Little White House in Warm Springs, GA is nearby. Franklin Delano Roosevelt built the Little White House in 1932 while governor of New York, prior to being inaugurated as president in 1933.
He first came to Warm Springs in 1924 hoping to find a cure for the infantile paralysis (polio) that had struck him in 1921. Swimming in the 88-degree, buoyant spring waters brought him no miracle cure, but it did bring improvement. During FDR’s presidency and the Great Depression, he developed many New Deal Programs (such as the Rural Electrification Administration) based upon his experiences in this small town.
At Warm Springs, Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States found the strength to resume his political career and a positive outlet for his own personal struggle with polio through creation of the Warm Springs Foundation. Roosevelt returned to use the therapeutic waters at Warm Springs every year, except 1942, from his first visit in 1924 until his death there in 1945. He also carried on important official duties when he was there.
Roosevelt was only able to go to Warm Springs for infrequent short visits during World War II. He returned to Warm Springs for the last time near the end of the war in March of 1945. Just back from the Yalta Conference, he planned to work on the address with which he would open the United Nations Conference. The afternoon of April 12, 1945, Roosevelt, seated in a favorite chair near the fireplace, posed for a portrait by Madame Elizabeth Shoumatoff. Suddenly, he suffered a massive stroke. Carried from the room into his bedroom, he died later that same afternoon.
The “Unfinished Portrait” is on exhibit at the historic site.Today, the “Unfinished Portrait” is featured in a museum that showcases many exhibits, including FDR’s 1938 Ford convertible with hand controls, his Fireside Chats playing over a 1930s radio, his stagecoach and a theater.
Visitors can tour FDR’s home, which has been carefully preserved very much as he left it, the servants and guest quarters, and the nearby pools complex that first brought the future president to Warm Springs.
Like many U.S. Presidents, Roosevelt was a lady’s man and had his share of mistresses. One of the most famous was Lucy Mercer.
Lucy Mercer, hired as a secretary by Eleanor Roosevelt. Mercer ended up having an affair with Roosevelt’s husband. Eleanor discovered love letters between Franklin D. Roosevelt and Mercer in 1918, when the presidency was just a distant ambition for her husband. Fearing for his political life, Franklin convinced Eleanor to stay married, promising he would avoid seeing Mercer again and that the two would sleep in separate beds.
Post-affair: Franklin didn’t keep his promise. With help from the Roosevelts’ daughter Anna, he continued to rendezvous with Mercer, and she was in Warm Springs, Ga., the day Franklin died. (Eleanor was conspicuously absent.) Mercer died in South Carolina in 1948. Famous memorable quotes of Franklin Delano Roosevelt:
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”
“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
“Books cannot be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can abolish memory… In this war, we know, books are weapons. And it is a part of your dedication always to make them weapons for man’s freedom.”
“Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights and keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose. To that high concept there can be no end save victory.”
FDR State Park is Georgia’s Largest State Park with 9,049 acres, rental cabins, modern campgrounds, a lake and the Pine Mountain Hiking Trail.
Several park amenities were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression, including cottages and the Liberty Bell Swimming Pool fed by cool springs.
A wooded campground sits near the edge of a small fishing lake suitable for canoeing, and privately operated stables offer guided horseback rides.
At Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park, visitors can enjoy many outdoor activities and experience a little history at the same time. President Franklin D. Roosevelt often picnicked at Dowdell’s Knob, (elevation 1,395 feet), an overlook along the Pine Mountain Trail with picnic tables and sweeping views of the valley. The Pine Mountain Trail’s 23 miles lead past moss-covered rock outcroppings and waterfalls, providing several options for long and short hikes.
FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps
Many facilities within the park were built by FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression, including stone cabins overlooking the mountain, the Liberty Bell-shaped swimming pool, and the arched bridge at Hwys. 190 and 354.
Cabins and campsites
To fully enjoy all the park has to offer, visitors can spend the night in cabins or the campground. Some of the cabins sit on the mountain top and some are located near the lake shore. All are equipped with linens, kitchen utensils, fireplaces and grills. The campground offers 140 campsites and a bathhouse with hot showers. Some sites overlook the lake and others are nestled among pines and hardwoods. Visitors are encouraged to stop by the park office for maps.
FDR State Park is open year round. The Callaway Gardens Country Store sits at the entrance to the park across from one of the best overlooks from the mountaintop. Beautiful Callaway Gardens and the picturesque town of Pine Mountain are at the base of the mountain, and Warm Springs, with it’s Little White House is a short 19 minute or 13 mile drive east.
I have a small image of the setting of “Red Clay and Roses” on my blog site in a slideshow that shows a few images of Callaway Gardens, a place mentioned a couple of times in the novel. Although the novel only offers a slim glimpse of Callaway Gardens through a couple of references, I thought I would give you a virtual tour. As a side note to the book, Callaway Gardens was a “whites only” resort until the 1970’s due to segregation policies. It is now enjoyed by all. Pine Mountain has its own airport, even though it is a small town of only 700 residents in the town proper. There are many antique malls and quaint shops in Pine Mountain. I have many of my own photos but most of these are from TripAdvisor show much more than mine. If you are looking for a nice vacation spot for spring or fall, Callaway Gardens is the place to go. It is located in Pine Mountain, Georgia, about 100 miles Southwest of Atlanta, and 40 miles North of Ft. Benning, near Columbus, Georgia. I raised my family on a farm near Pine Mountain, and there was always something to do there.
CALLAWAY GARDENS HISTORY
Open since 1952, Callaway Gardens is nestled in the southernmost foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Founders Cason and Virginia Callaway longed for a place where man and nature could abide together for the good of both. More than six decades later, their retreat continues to offer solace, inspiration and discovery for all who come here.
A 13,000 acre, year-round horticultural display garden that offers the Virginia Hand Callaway Discovery Center, Birds of Prey Show, Day Butterfly Center, Sibley Horticultural Center, Mr. Cason’s Vegetable Garden, Walking Trails, Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel and Pioneer Log Cabin as well as golf, tennis, fishing, fly fishing and biking. Seasonal events and educational workshops are offered throughout the year. Four lodging types, a spa, nine restaurants and two lounges are available.Golf Courses; Gardens; Nature/ Wildlife Areas.
Golfers seeking a real test of their abilities look forward to playing 7,057 yard, par 72 Mountain View, designed by world-famous golf architect Dick Wilson. Tight, tree-lined fairways are characteristic of this true championship course. Mountain View was home to the PGA Tour’s Buick Challenge for more than a dozen years. One of Mountain View’s most intriguing holes is the par 5, number 15 where the threat of water looms over both tee and approach shots. This hole was ranked as the fourth most difficult par 5 on the Tour by USA Today.
All but a few Photos are courtesy of TripAdvisor. The Chapel photos and some others of flowers and the bike trails are my own.
Fall season in stained glass along the chapel wall.
Summer season in stained glass along the wall of the chapel.
Spring season in stained glass along the wall of the chapel.
Winter season in stained glass along the chapel wall.
In the front matter to my book, “Red Clay and Roses”, there is a dedication, as many provide when they author a book. I want to share with you the story behind the dedication. It is not an ordinary dedication for supportive family and friends. It is a dedication to a man whose name I never knew. Well, it is to some degree, because I do mention my loving and supportive husband, Greg. Read as follows and then I will explain:
While visiting my grandparent’s farm in my youth, an elderly African American man told me,
“If your children can look at my grandchildren and not see color, then we have made progress.”
This book is dedicated to him, the progress that we have made,
and to my loving and supportive husband, Greg.
I am more than a half century in age at 52 years. I was born in 1960 in Georgia. Schools in my hometown were not integrated until 1971. In 1972, I went into Foster Care. In Foster Care, I was at home with other children of many races. I did not give race much thought. Same was true after I went to live in an orphanage in 1974. By then, all of the schools in the area were integrated. Most neighborhoods were exclusive, and many still are in the Deep South. Things were very different in my grandparent’s time.
My grandparents lived on property that has been in my grandmother’s family since the land lottery of 1827. My greatest American ancestor, Thomas Holland, won this 500 acre lot and one other lot for his war service in the American Revolutionary War. It has been occupied by my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins ever since that time. Though only one home survived the Civil War, the land did. My grandfather’s family’s Baptist Church stands on one end of the property and my grandmother’s family’s Methodist Church stands on the other end.
During my time growing up, throughout the time spent in Foster Care and the Orphanage, I was able to spend time with my many cousins and the hired help (mostly black) and their families on my grandparent’s farm. This was primarily weekends, holidays, and summers
As I matured, I spent six months in New York City, and a few years in Atlanta Georgia. City life was much different than time on the farm or in my small hometown.
The dedication and why it is meaningful to me:
I was not as deeply indoctrinated with racial opinions and bias as many others in my community growing up. My grandparents; however, were very deeply indoctrinated. While they were respectful in many ways, treated their hired help kindly, and paid them well. They still had their set ways of thinking and acting. Not having been very much influenced by the Civil Rights Movement, being way out in the country, they internalized the community around them, as most do.
When I was 19 years old, had a small child, and was already divorced, I spent some brief time in my grandparent’s home. A female friend from North Georgia had come down to visit.
We were gathered at the dining room table having the noontime meal (called dinner in the South, not lunch). The dog started barking and we heard a truck pull up into the driveway. My grandfather got up from the table to go see what the ruckus was all about. A few moments later, we heard him call out, “Mama, yo nigger is here to plow yo field!” very loudly. He slammed the front door.
My friend and I looked at each other with our mouths agape. Grandfather came back to the dining room and continued his meal, while Grandmother went to the bedroom to fetch her purse to pay the man. A black man, an African-American, on invitation, had come with his rototiller to prepare Grandmother’s garden.
I got up from the table and went out onto the front porch where the elderly black man stood with his hat in his hands on the front steps.
“Sir, I am so sorry for my Grandfather’s behavior,” I apologized.
“Whatever are you apologizing for?” he asked.
“Well, he called you a nigger and slammed the door in your face. That was rude and I am ashamed for him,” I went on.
“Little lady,” he said with a wide smile, “I ain’t never been nothin but a nigger. For all my long life, nothin but a nigger. Your Grandpappy, he ain’t never knowed me as nothin but a nigger, all his long life. But if your children can look at my grandchildren and not see color, well then, we has made some progress!”
His statement resonated with me for my whole lifetime. I raised my children to not see color. We sang “Everybody’s Beautiful” and “Jesus Loves the Little Children” before they were able to talk good. Their friends were always welcome in our home regardless of color or national origin. My two grandchildren are of mixed race, although they look nothing alike. I could not imagine not accepting their father as family.
We are, each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.
~Luciano de Crescenzo
After I wrote “Red Clay and Roses”, which was highly influenced by my life experiences and those of my family, I had to come up with what I felt was a meaningful dedication. I did not feel the typical, “Thanks, to my supportive….,” would suffice. The book has a significant amount of racial tension in it. This African American man’s words came back to me. We have made progress, and for that I am grateful.
How do you decide what to write as a dedication in your books? What inspires you to be grateful? What progress do you see?
The 50th Anniversary of MLK’s march on Washington reminds us of the great strides we have made in overcoming the racial prejudice that existed during the era when the political machine took on a whole new color.
If you click on the image of Martin Luther King, Jr. you will see a video from “Rolling Stone”. The following link tells the stories of people who lived through the transitions of the era. Their stories should not be forgotten.
The march was organized by a group of civil rights, labor, and religious organizations, under the theme “jobs, and freedom”. Estimates of the number of participants varied from 200,000 to 300,000. Observers estimated that 75–80% of the marchers were black.
Racism results from oppression, poverty and ignorance. These three things are the greatest influences on society’s reluctance and inability to become more than tolerant, but to embrace and accept the changing tide in this country.
I have been reading many articles and blogs on the issues of racism over the past few days, and what I am seeing is that interracial relations are currently considered, “Trendy.” My daughter, who has racially mixed children, agrees. I can only pray that it is much more permanent than trendy.
My granddaughter has the Hispanic phenotype of her father, a Puerto Rican. My grandson has the Arian phenotype of his mother, a German/English/Cherokee. The Puerto Ricans are a mix of Spanish, African-American, and Island Indians. They are a mixed race family and not unlike many families in the Orlando area. My daughter feels that, while we are far from “post racial”, we are moving closer toward an accepting society where race is less of an issue than it was 50 years ago, but her life experiences with these children let her know that we are not there yet.
She has had people ask her if she was babysitting. She has had people ask her if she adopted, and to go so far as to congratulate her on adopting, “Typically less than adoptable children.” She has had day care staff members assume that she was picking up a child other than her own daughter simply because she is white and her daughter is not, asking her for I.D. to prove she is the parent of the child.
The Trayvon Martin-Mark Zimmerman case reminds us that there is much progress to be made if we are to truly see people and not color. I am hopeful that we can get there soon.
“Red Clay and Roses” speaks to the issue of racism as it was fifty years ago, and to the issue of Civil Rights and Women’s Rights. It is fiction based on the true stories of those who lived during the era and faced the challenges of it directly. It is an historical reminder why we should strive for acceptance and assure that we never go back to where we were fifty years ago. These are issues worth remembering.
Do you have one of those places visited in your childhood that you will never forget? Is there an iconic restaurant that you dined in as a child or a place that you were allowed to be grown up in? Is it still there?
Charlie Joseph’s is one of those places to me. My father would send us from his uptown office to Charlie Joseph’s with a few dollars, real money, along with his order. We would walk up to the outside window and order tube steaks with chili and cheese, and chips to take back to the office for lunch. It made us feel so grown up to be given that responsibility.
Charlie Joseph’s is iconic in my small town. It has been there since time immemorial. My Aunt would take us there as small children where we dined inside to the juke box sounds. She said that Charlie made his own hot dogs from fresh meats, spiced just right, ground and stuffed right there. Although I do not believe that they do this anymore. Only Coke-a-Cola products are served at Charlie Joseph’s
Trent sends Sybil out for tube steaks from Charlie Joseph’s in “Red Clay and Roses”. It is the only dining establishment in my small hometown from my youth that remains fully functioning on Bull Street Downtown. They have even opened another one on West Point Road. It has been passed through three generations.
Joey Keeth’s grandfather, Charlie Joseph originated from Zahle, Lebanon. Before 1920, he migrated to LaGrange, Georgia, and peddled fruit from a horse and buggy in the LaGrange and surrounding areas. In 1920, He started the Charlie Joseph’s Restaurant at 107 Main Street, LaGrange, Georgia. Charlie Joseph and his wife successfully ran the restaurant for twenty-six years together.
Sometime in 1946, the restaurant was moved to 128 Bull Street, where the oldest location is today. Charlie Joseph passed away suddenly two weeks before the restaurant location was moved, and the ownership was changed to Solomon Joseph, Charlie Joseph’s son.
In 1985, Joey Keeth purchased Charlie Joseph’s from his uncle, Solomon Joseph, and opened a new location at 2238 West Point Road, LaGrange, Georgia in 1992. Joey Keeth has worked at Charlie Joseph’s for over thirty-eight years. Joey Keeth values the lessons learned over the years working with his family, and looks forward to sharing them with future generations in his family to come.
What Icons remain in your hometown? What responsibilities did you have as a child that made you feel grown up, or important?
A fictionalized true story of life in the Deep South during the time of Jim Crow Law, and before Roe vs. Wade. Women were supposed to keep quiet and serve, abortion was illegal, adoption difficult, and racism rampant. The discovery of an old ledger opens a window into the dynamics of the 1950s-60s, when the world was beginning to change. Mystery, rape, murder, drama, and forbidden love meld as the origin of the ledger unfolds.
Unspoken secrets are shared between Beatrice, The Good Doctor’s wife, and Moses Grier, their black handyman. The Grier’s daughter, Althea, suffers a tragedy that leaves her family silent and mournful. Her brother, Nathan, a medical student, looks for answers from a community that is deaf, blind, and dumb.
A summer romance between Nathan and Sybil, an independent, high-spirited, white woman, leaves more unresolved. Sybil is torn between living the mundane life of her peers, or a life that involves fastening herself to a taboo relationship. Witness social progress through the eyes of those who lived it.
Casting Call: Red Clay and Roses
I recently saw a post on the lovely Helen Valentina’s site. She is the author of the newly released book titled “The Seed”. I loved the post and told her that I was going to steal her idea and create a post doing a casting call for “Red Clay and Roses”. Of course, she was fine with that, so here it is: My list of actors and actresses for the characters in “Red Clay and Roses”: I ordered them as they appeared in the story:
1) Hannah Hamilton: A nurse and narrator of the first person in the introduction and first five chapters and the conclusion.
2) Sybil Hamilton: Narrator’s 80 year old cousin, who tells Hannah her story and hands over her diaries. Nathan’s love interest.
3) Beatrice Handley: Wife of The Good Doctor who is plagued by delusions and hallucinations of fairy babies and dark angels.
4) The Good Doctor: The local chiropractor and former Army Medic.
5) Moses Grier: The Good Doctor’s handyman and patriarch of the Grier family.
6) Eula Mae Grier: Matriarch of the Grier family and mother to Nathan and Althea.
7) Althea Grier: Sixteen year old Grier daughter, who is brutally raped, planned to become famous for her singing abilities and Bee Bop music.
8) Swamp Witch Wilma: An elderly quadroon who lives in a swamp.
9) Nathan Grier: Grier son, medical student at Howard University in Washington, DC, Civil Rights activist. Sybil’s love interest.
10) Trenton Stipes: Pawn Shop owner/accountant who keeps The Good Doctor’s books.
In the general line up, I think we would have a pretty good movie going! THE DEBUT CAST LINE UP FOR “RED CLAY AND ROSES”!!!
Muse Watson (NCIS, Prison break) I could see him trying his hand at farming and then cleaning up to become a chiropractor. I think he could pull off the limp well also.
Betty White for sure. She could play both the mature Beatrice and the elderly Beatrice just fine. I could see her old and crumpled but a bit of a funny character with red tinged hair. I would just love to have her personality in my movie.
I would have chosen The Titanic’s Rose Stuart but given the fact that she is no longer with us, I picked Lynn Cohen. I feel that she has aged gracefully enough to suit Sybil’s elderly demeanor and charm.
Bianca Lawson at 33 yo has played 16 yos in other castings quite well. She was a lesbian love interest in “Pretty Little Liars”. She also played in the series “Saved By The Bell'”. She would make a great Althea in that Althea saw herself as glamourous and wanted to seek fame and fortune before her tragedy.
Shemar moore, of course, just because I think he’s HOT. Also, he is a good actor who can talk street talk or speak eloquently.
Young Sybil: Scarlett Johansson, I think she could pull off Sybil’s high spirited independent character and do Sybil’s hairstyles justice.
Laurence Fishburne with his gapped tooth could be quite convincingly authoritarian, yet kind, and as an elderly man could project the mild humor and sorrow that Moses needs in character form.
Nia Long is a fairer skinned black actress that would make a terrific Eula Mae. The 12th richest black actress in the wolrd. I won’t hold my breath on this one. She is cute and has the right frame and sauciness.
Naomi Harris from “Pirates of the Caribbean” would be perfect for the role of The Swamp Witch with a little make up to make her even older. She certainly has the accent and voice for it.
Muscular, swaggering and tough, Scott Caan would suit the unlikeable character of Trent with his fifties “bad boy” image.