Blackhumouristpress's Blog

June 22, 2018

Detroit 67- The Love Story

Filed under: america,Detroit,Ethnicity,humor,humour,Short Story,Uncategorized — blackhumouristpress @ 2:25 am
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Felicia sat around the table of her parents Southfield home in suburban Detroit with her husband and two daughters. They had just finished celebrating Felicia’s 50th birthday and we’re sitting around the table talking about mundane, day-to-day things that families talk about when Sally the younger of Felicia’s two daughters, looked at her grandparents and asked how they happened. Sally looked at her smiling grandfather with faded freckles on his face, wearing his Detroit Tigers cap, sipping on lemonade with one hand and holding the hand of his wife beside him. The grandmother, a serene black woman with salt and pepper braids smiled at Sally as Sally looked back at her with the palms of her hands supporting her chin while her elbows rested on the table. Sally thought about the fact that she was 25% black and that her mom was 50% black and that her grandparents were both 100% white and 100% black. Sally had heard the story from her mom but wanted to hear the story from the people who lived it. Grandma Emma’s eyes lit up as she relived the days over 50 years ago.
“I opened the front door to my parents home to find this young man in a nice summer suit and a hat to match. It was late afternoon and just the day before there was a riot not too far away and my cousin was arrested with a whole bunch of people. My momma was down in Mississippi with my brothers and my daddy took off with a shotgun with my two uncles to stand guard over his small grocery store not far from 12th street to make sure it wouldn’t be looted once the riots broke out. The day before, I was at the Fox Theater to see a whole lot of local Motown groups when the show suddenly ended. My daddy waited until I was home and then took off for his store. He told me to stay inside the house and not answer the door. So what did I do? I answered the door…”
Elmer laughed, took a sip of his lemonade and began to give his account of that day.
“I grew up in a town called Fairbury in Nebraska…. I woke up one day and decided that my calling was to get people in this country to vote for Richard Nixon. I went to the state Republican office in Lincoln and they thought it would be a funny idea to send me to Detroit. I never was out of the state before. When I got to Detroit, it might as well have been Mars. In fact the man who sent me from the office in Lincoln, looked at me with his gray flattop haircut and horned rimmed glasses and said to me…. There are a ton of coloreds in Dee-troit that need to learn about the benefits of a Richard Nixon presidency. I got to Detroit and began to ask around where the coloreds lived. I think I musta looked like a Martian to them.”
Emma smiled and took over at a place she felt was right to cut in.
“So I look through the front window and see this young man with literature in his hands. I’m thinking he was one of them Jehovah Witness boys from Australia. I was really hoping it was. I liked their accents so much. I was seventeen at the time but I looked older. I believe your granddaddy was almost 21. He asked if the man of the house was there and then he asked if I was the lady of the house. Since my momma was down in Mississippi, I felt I was the lady of the house. I said I was and then invited him in. He took off his hat and began talking about Richard Nixon. I poured him a Coke on ice… It was so hot outside. He stopped to tell me how hot it was in Nebraska this time of year. Then he paused and told me that I was the first colored person he had ever spoken to in person before. I told him that he was the first and only white boy to ever come and knock on our door… A whole buncha firsts at one time. Now keep in mind my daddy was not going to leave his store until order in the streets could be restored. I asked your grandfather if he knew about the riots going on. The farm boy was oblivious to the unrest.”
Elmer shook his head and looked up at the ceiling as his wife spoke. Emma laughed and Elmer cut back in.
“Your grandmother told me she was 22 and that her fiancé picked up and left her and went to New York. She was 17 and there was no fiancé in New York. It made for a riveting story. She made me something to eat and asked if I would like a gin martini with my supper. I said that I would not have one unless she had one with me. I don’t ever think she had a drink before. So we had a few martinis with dinner and then the phone rang… It was your grandmother’s father checking to make sure she was home and okay. He told her that he would not be coming home until he was sure that his shop was going to be intact. I could hear this from where I was sitting. I offered to stay with your grandmother and protect her as long she was alone. She smiled and said she would like that. We finished eating and then your grandmother put so music on the Hi-Fi. It was mostly Motown dance music but then she put on a Smokey Robinson song called More Love. She came up and took my left hand and put her’s in it and then wrapped my right arm around her waist, put her head on my shoulder and told me to listen to the words. The lights were dimmed and it was close to 9:30pm in the Eastern Time Zone. In Nebraska it would have been dark outside but the sun was just setting. There we were…. Drinking your great- granddaddy’s liquor, eating his food, slow dancing in his living room at dusk with the sound of machine guns and tanks in the back ground and your grandmother asked me to listen to the words.”
Emma began to Sing the words to the song for everyone to hear.
“This is no fiction, this is no fact. I’ll always belong only to you each day. I’ll be living to make sure I’m giving you more love and more joy than age or time could ever destroy.”
Sally nudged her mother and sister Jeanette. The story was surreal. A white man and a young black woman fell in love in Detroit during the week that riots raged on the streets. Him a young Republican from nowhere Nebraska and her a teenaged black girl alone for three days playing house. This was the Prince Charming from every story she ever read. He was the knight on dark nights when unrest had reached it’s boiling point. They fell in love within a week while being alone. Emma’s father returned several days later with a shotgun in hand and found the young white man in his living room watching a ballgame on television. He stood dumbfounded at the site of a young white man sitting in his chair in his house. Elmer rose, extended his hand and told him what his purpose was in being there- discussing Richard Nixon with colored people.

“My daddy told your granddaddy to leave before he shot him. I was sure I was never going to see your granddaddy again. There is a special kind of crazy that happens when you are so in love that you can’t think about anything else except for that person. I was love sick and mopey for days and then about a week later, the most unexpected thing happened.”

Elmer returned with flowers and a ring. The tall black man looked at the young thin white man with flowers and invited him in. He reasoned that if he were to shoot him, it would be best to do it behind closed doors. Once the door closed, Elmer began talking rapidly and nervously.
“Sir… This might sound crazy to you but I have fallen deeply in love with your daughter and would like to ask your permission to marry her. In your absence, I was here with her making sure that no harm came to her. I have the means to take care of her and I aim to…”
“My daddy thought about shooting him and then looked at me. I’m sure I had a stupid in love look in my eye and I’m pretty sure he knew that the possibility of a baby within me was not only possible but probable and so it was… Here’s your momma 50 years later… And life is truly a wondrous thing…. Happily ever after? Mostly.”

 

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