Child of the Pack Saddle IX


I’ll give you a bird’s eye view, a fleeting glance of that Bayou Harlem called the Sonja Quarters.

As I remember, it was not such a bad place to live when comparing the Sonja Quarters to a lot of other online canadian pharmacy Black communities and/or neighborhoods I’ve since lived in. For one thing, the whole area from stem to stern was as clean as the Board of Health and as neatly kept as grandma’s kitchen. And whereas the sidewalks were bare, the streets were tolerable. Not the best but tolerable considering the time and the place.

The houses were aligned in a straight corn row-fashion bearing various hues of yellow, green, white and all the shades of the rainbow. Each house stood two feet above the ground and was crowned with a tin roof from which a red brick chimney placed atop each and every home stood in majestic grandeur and old world dignity.

I believe the Sonja Quarters was named in honor of one of the most illustrious, noteworthy and truly one of the most courageous women of any color or kind that our Lord God did ever create. Her name was Sojourner Truth and she was an abolitionist who lived from 1797 to 1883.

This beautiful Black sister was set free from slavery in the year 1827 and thereafter spent the rest of her life doing anything and everything in her power to bring an end to slavery.

This beautiful Black heroine of the Black cause passed away after 86 years of dedicated trials and tribulations brought about by and for the sake of her people, leaving a legacy unequaled by any woman before or since.

I do not recall the name of the street on which my aunt resided in the Sonja Quarters but I can distinctly remember the yellow bungalow that my mother took me to that long, long ago spring day in 1932. It was a glorious sun-illuminated day, a day that epitomized the birth of spring, and the fidelity, the exactitude, and the undying love that our beloved Lord and Savior God holds dear for sinful man.

After my mother and I had descended the levee or the railroad embankment that served as a gateway into the Sonja Quarters proper, we boarded a footpath running parallel to the railroad tracks through a vacant field, a grassless piece of ground that provided a fix for softball junkies. I would speculate that the vacant lot was about sixty square yards more or less, and at the south end of this area of dusty land was a humble yellow abode in which lived the aunt that I had never laid eyes on.

The front entrance into the house was a four-foot porch. On the east side of the porch sat a wooden bench with a high back, while on the west end of said porch was a large swing poised in mid-air supported by a couple of chains from the ceilings.

There were three people seated in the swing, a Black man, a medium brown-skinned woman, and a dark brown-skinned boy who appeared to be three to four years older than myself.

The woman in the swing was the first to speak as she rose to her feet. She said in a jovial tone of voice, “Well, if it ain’t my baby sister Vi! Girl, I ain’t seen you in a Year of Sundays.”

Then, turning to the man seated at her left, the lady said, in an enthusiastic tone of voice, “Daddy, this is my little sister Virginia. I haven’t seen this girl since Lord knows when!”

Along about that time, mama and I had mounted the porch and the two women rushed forward, and threw themselves into each other’s arms. My mother’s sister was a tad lighter in complexion than mother dear. Like mama, she too was a pretty woman with two pouting, big breasts, long flowing silky black hair, big brown eyes, a pretty little mouth, big legs and a big broad sit down.

The man who was still seated was a brother of a deep shade of ebony with kinky hair and a flat Negroid type nose. I would guess he stood about six foot two or three, and weighed two hundred something with a body similar to that of the Titan in Greek mythology who was condemned by the Geek God Zeus to support the heavens on his shoulders. As for his age, your guess is as good as mine. For what genius is he who would dare wager a guess as to the age of a jet Black man. Talk about the impossible!

As for the young boy, he was a little taller than myself with dark brown skin complexion and a pair of mule lips under a nose that took up practically all of the lower primacies of his hatchet face. His black eyes loomed out of his forehead like two giant bubbles in a piss pot, while a crop of black curly hair clung to his pumpkin head in much the way in which moss clings to a bayou tree.

The moment I laid eyes on this sissified individual, I had a feeling that there was something bent remarkably out of whack with this ill-fated human being. I could feel clear down to my toes that he and I were born to be foes because he was too sissy like to my way of thinking.

Was this a sudden surge of jealousy on my part, you ask? No! Hell no! Why would I be jealous of a baboon? Me, Popcorn, who bore the handsomeness of a Zulu God! And the charm of a player. Don’t be obscene!

Mama was full of enthusiasm and joviality and bubbling with pride as she said to her sister, “Lil, I want y’all to meet my son. His name is Earnest but he likes to be called Popcorn. Me, I call him by his name and his name is Earnest. He was named after my oldest brother, who died at a very early age.

“Earnest, say hello to your Aunt Lillian and her husband, Mister Toulon. And that young man sitting down there is Noble.”

Noble! I said to myself. Baboon would be much more appropriate! What in heaven’s name could be noble about that ugly chump! Pray tell, somebody!

Noble might have been an ugly duckling as far as facial make up was concerned. But to give the devil his due, when it came down to personal appearance, the child was as mean as a mess of greens cooked in jelly beans. What I’m saying is this: the lad was laying bad in a new pair of overalls that were starched and ironed until the creases were as sharp as a razor’s edge.

He wore a silk shirt that was as white as winter snow on a mountain top. On his big black feet, he wore a pair of Buster Brown Shoes shined twice as bright as a hoot owl’s eyes in the stillness of a pitch black night.

After having finished the introduction, mother, aunt Lil, and Mister Toulon went into the house, leaving me and the baboon out on the porch. And it was during the time that we were left alone that I discovered that Noble was not only ugly but he was spoiled, thought he was cute, and thought he knew everything.

I didn’t know just what I would do but I had a feeling deep down in my craw that this was not going to be a good place for me.

Noble was bragging to me about his bike. All pride and prejudices aside, the bike was from every angle of admiration a thing of beauty.

When the three grown ups returned to the porch, my mother came over to me, placed her arm around my shoulder and in a jubilant tone of voice, she said, “Earnest, your aunt has agreed to let you stay here with her and Mister Toulon until I can find a place for you to live. It shouldn’t take but a few days. Then I’ll enroll you in school.

“How does that strike you, sugar foot?”

Although I made no reply, mama took it for granted that I had agreed to the proposition. She said, “That’s a good boy. Now, give mama some sugar. I have to get on back to the house. I’ve got some chitterlings to clean and do my wash. “I’ll see you in a couple of days. You be a good boy now, Earnest, and mind your aunt, you hear me?”

“I will, mama,” said I.

Mama wrapped her arms around me and said, “I’m so glad that you understand and that you’re as smart as my daddy said you were. Good-bye, sugar foot. I love you. Don’t forget that, you hear me?”

“I won’t mama,” I muttered in a retarded tone. “And I love you too, mama.”

It was some seventy years ago this last spring since that long, long ago day when I stood as still as a statue on my Aunt Lillian’s front porch, watching my mother walk away with tear-filled eyes, and slowly disappearing over the rail road tracks and on into nevermore.

I never forgot that moment all through those endless years of the past. Neither the shifting sands of eon nor the wailing moans of departed decades, the years that went dragging by on their way to dusty death kicking and screaming like so many frightened pigs being ushered into a slaughter pen, there has never been a single moment when the memory of my mother dear was any farther away than a tad from my daily thoughts.

Even though the dreams I dreamt for a thousand nights, and forever and a day, were no more than ill-considered hallucinations wrenched from the gray matter of a fils de bast, or “Child of the Packsaddle,” one who is illegitimate.

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