Friday, October 11, 2013

Remembrance of things past (part the second)

It occurs to me that I already wrote part the second three and a half years ago. It was called “My dog has fleas, and other remembrances.”

You may read it now if you like.

As a result of that post, a friend from my school days, Fred Stone, contacted me and we began an e-mail correspondence. Eventually, Fred and his wife Judy came to Georgia to gather genealogical data about some of Fred’s ancestors in a cemetery about an hour from my home, and they spent a couple of days with Mrs. RWP and me along with their five-year-old great-grandson. It was a lovely visit, and Fred presented me with a book on the history of Mansfield that has been published by the Mansfield Historical Society. Judy presented us with a lovely handmade quilt to give to our granddaughter. Judy is Fred's third wife, and it so happens that his first two wives were also named Judy. Because of this interesting fact, Fred named his boat Judy, Judy, Judy and even though his fellow boating enthusiasts probably thought Fred was channeling Cary Grant when he named his boat, he wasn't. Fred’s first wife Judy was the niece of Sally Huffman, an old friend of our family. Judy didn’t call her aunt Aunt Sally, however. She called her Aunt Sister and so did all of Aunt Sally’s Sister’s other nieces and nephews. This was not the most unusual thing people did in that family, however. They also had another aunt named Gertrude whom they all called Pete. In 1961, Gertrude/Pete sent me a carrot cake through the mail when I was in U.S. Air Force basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, which made me the most popular guy in the barracks for about half a day.

As a result of that same post, I was also contacted by Bart Bull, an American writer who had gained a bit of notoriety with some of his magazine articles. Bart had moved to Paris and was using the name Boule Bartier there. Bart’s/Boule’s mission in life, at least as far as corresponding with me was concerned, was to prove that John Howard Griffin, a neighbor of mine in Texas and author of the book Black Like Me, was not the formerly blind person he had claimed to be. Bart contacted me after recognizing the name Foy Curry in my post as one of the persons who made the news in the 1956 Mansfield School Desegregation Incident. Why he was reading my post in the first place remains a mystery to me, unless he was sitting around Googling the word Mansfield one afternoon when he could have been out strolling on the Rue de Madeleine.

I don’t know why I’m telling you about Fred and Judy and Judy and Judy (actually I didn’t tell you one single thing about the second Judy) and Aunt Sister and Pete and Bart Bull, so I will close for now.

If you want to mail me a carrot cake, please send it to Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas. The authorities there will, I’m sure, forward it to me without delay and I’m confident that I will get it eventually.

If you want to contact me concerning the 1956 Mansfield School Desegregation Incident, please find another hobby.

If you have a problem with the continuity or lack thereof in this post, you can always go read someone else’s blog instead.

Thus ends the updated version of The Story Of My Life (part the second).


  1. Whoa! Hang on there pard'ner! I settle down at my computer with a mug of hot chocolate and a ginger nut biscuit, expecting to read the second part of your life story (as promised!) and instead you run off the highway to explore the bushes!

  2. Yorkshire Pudding, I'm sure I don't know what you mean by "you run off the highway to explore the bushes!" Is that an expression used commonly in The Peak District (photographs on request)? If you mean I can't see the forest for the trees, well, perhaps that is true. If you mean I can't hold to a story line to save my life, well, perhaps that is true, too.
    If you mean you didn't click on the link in the post, that is your own blamed fault.

  3. How come you get delightful comments from long-lost friends and authors of renown, and I just get hurt and angry responses due to my insane ravings and nasty disposition?

  4. Snowbrush, don't look now, but I think your comment contains the answer to your own question.

  5. "I think your comment contains the answer to your own question."

    The part about "insane ravings and nasty disposition"? No, it couldn't be them there because them are my most appealing qualities.

  6. Snowbrush, of course they are. How silly of me. A thousand pardons, mon ami. If you would also like to send a thousand pardons in my direction for all, er, some, er, a tiny fraction of the unkind things you have ever said on your blog, they will be graciously accepted.

  7. Amazing post. I really enjoyed the story 'Black Like Me' but I don't remember anything about the writer having been formally blind.

  8. Katherine, I never saw the motion picture Black Like Me starring James Whitmore that was based on John Howard Griffin's book, so I can't respond to what the film contained, but the book Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin (we called him Howard) surely must have referred to his blindness. It was while he was blind that he came to believe that skin color meant nothing. How long has it been since you read it? I confes that it has been more than 40 years since I read it.

    For the record, I think Howard was both formerly and formally blind.

  9. Didn't he go blind later? I think we've already had this discussion in regard to another post.

    P.S. He's dead, so he would have been blind formerly.

  10. "If you would also like to send a thousand pardons in my direction for all, er, some, er, a tiny fraction of the unkind things you have ever said on your blog, they will be graciously accepted."

    You've got it for every occasion on which I could have expressed what I thought was true in a less offensive manner. I can but wish that I were able to express what I think is true in a manner that would offend no one because I take no pleasure in causing offense.

  11. Snowbrush et al, John Howard Griffin went blind during World War II after a plane crash in the South Pacific. He came home and lived with his parents in Mansfield and later married a local girl, Elizabeth Ann "Pie" Holland (now Griffin-Bonazzi). After about ten years of blindness he regained his sight when a blood clot behind his optic nerve dissolved. This was all documented in a series of articles in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram at the time when I was a boy. I don't know why Bart Bull/Boule Bartier thinks it was a publicity stunt, but he does.

    Your offer of a thousand pardons bowled me over. In the future, when you are trying to express what you think is true, try to remember one of my mother's favorite expressions: You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Of course, you might also want to remember that the portion of your vast audience that thrives on vinegar might just fold their tents like the Arabs and as silently steal away.