I studied this photo quite a few minutes. This is a mistake that I don’t like to make. I have never done this. I usually write my first thoughts in any story.
But for this photo prompt I saw many things. I wondered what other bloggers were seeing and then I thought, stay true to yourself Terry. Write what you see and feel, not what others may be doing.
So here goes.
I am proud of my name. My name is Samson Jr. . I was entertained when I was young by listening to stories told by my parents and grandparents of how slaves in our families had fought, lost and loved. I am proud of how far our present family has come.
I live in a house with my parents who bought it with money they had worked hard and saved for. When my parents got married, they had nothing but love and the clothes on their backs. God was the center of their lives and they never let faith drift too far a way from their front door.
We have running water and Papa bought Mama a used set of appliances; a washer and dryer. Mama didn’t have to wonder if it was going to rain or not. She could just put the wet clothes straight in the dryer and walk a way until the buzzer went off.
I go to a public school system. There are mixed colors in all classes, but black children are less seen. Bullying and hate run rampant after school and many times the police can be seen at the school yard breaking up fights. One time I can remember a black kid, about nine or ten was shot on his way to school.
It was just awful when I was just starting school. I can remember being picked on by the other students and the teacher doing nothing about it. White kids called me names and tore my home-work up in shreds. I would explain to the teacher why I didn’t have it but she still checked my paper with a big red F.
It took talking to my parents and many sessions with the nice counselor after school before I realized that I could do something about it. I learned that I didn’t have to let bullies pick on me. Mama always reminded me that I was special. She told me it didn’t matter what color my skin was; God made us all the same on the inside.
Slowly I gained confidence and I found ways around the kids in my class. I would write out two essays. I had an extra copy in case the kids got a hold of my homework. I learned to sit in the center, front seat. I sat right in front of the teacher’s eyes. She couldn’t deny when something bad was going on. She had no choice but to fix the problems.
I think she hated me. My one teacher just didn’t like me at all. I believe she considered me a trouble maker by making a spectacle out of myself sitting up front. After class one day she pulled on my shirt sleeve. She asked me,” What is it that you are trying to prove Mr. Samson Jr? Are you looking for attention? Don’t you get enough in your own home? Why don’t you sit in the back row with the rest of your friends?”
I can remember looking her square in the eye and saying, “I sit in the front row so I don’t miss anything you are saying Mam. I plan to graduate this school and go to college some day.”
I can still hear her cackling and seeing her tossing her arms up in the air. All she could get out of her painted red lips were, “Really now, so you think you are smart enough to go to college? Well I guess Mr. Samson Jr. time will tell us the truth on this. Go on, get for home.”
Thank goodness life is better today. I did finish that teacher’s class and I did graduate from that school. I worked hard like my parents taught me. I worked my fingers to the bone. Mama and Papa didn’t ask for a single cent. They let me save every single penny I earned down at the grocery store.
I went to a local college and I paid for most of it all by myself. My last year of college I was just beginning that first day and my Sunday School class gave me a gift. It was a gift of money. I can still remember feeling the hugs from each one of my class mates. I thanked them and I am sure I had some tears in my eyes. The entire church had a Sunday noon picnic in my honor too. I got some white envelopes from other folks too.
When we got home I had Mama help me count all those envelopes up and with the money from my Sunday School class and all the other folks, I was so surprised when half of my last year was already going to be paid for, and in advance. I was so proud as I walked into that school office and handed them over the money.
They wrote me out a receipt, but all they really said was, thank-you. I went a head and finished school. I graduated being a teacher. In fact, I teach other kids in the very school I had attended myself.
Not long after I started teaching Papa died. It really wasn’t that long afterwards that Mama died of a broken heart. These were the hardest days of my life. Burying my parents whom I loved so much. I ended up selling the house and kept with me their personal belongings, and I moved into a nice apartment on the top floor.
It had so much room, I could just run and do flips if I wanted to. The ceilings were high so I could sing and hear my own voice echo off the walls. It had hardwood floors and the living room had two windows that I could open up and let the fresh air in.
The kitchen wasn’t really much to talk about but who cares. It had the important things. An old stove, but it did work, an icebox, and a small red table with two steel chairs. The living room came with a sofa and there was one over-stuffed chair. It had seen better days and had a couple of tears in it. I didn’t care. I took my parents bed blanket and threw it over it. Every time I sat in it, I would think of Mama and Papa.
I had to share a bathroom with two other apartments on my floor. I was the only black man living up here. They weren’t very friendly, but they didn’t bully me either. We just sort of stayed our distance when we would see one another. Sometimes our eyes would meet but quickly part.
I was a happy man. Each morning as I was frying up my bacon I would give thanks to God for one more day. One more chance to teach, one more chance to learn more about life. I lived in this apartment for about four months.
I didn’t get to stay there as long as I had planned on it. I had been teaching that day. It was a day of trials. Kids didn’t turn in homework. They talked too much instead of listening to my voice. I teach fifth grade students, and we all know how restless kids can be at that age.
School was over for the day and I gathered up my books and headed home to fix supper. When I got to my corner of where I lived, I saw my building was on fire. The fire was coming from up high. I just knew in my heart that the smoke was damaging all my belongings as well as I am standing here breathing.
I froze in my steps and I felt tears sliding down my face. I took my red handkerchief out of my back pocket and wiped my eyes. I glanced around at what else was happening. There were blacks and whites fighting in the streets. Some had broken bottles and were trying to hurt others. Where were the police? When had this started? I wept as I was thankful for how far my family had come in life, but I bled tears for the distance we still had to go to learn to accept that we may be of different colors, but on the inside God made us all the same.