"BATTLING THE BLESSINGS"
From Chapter - Two
|20 YEARS IN THE MAKING
2 YEARS TO WRITE
OVER 50 YEARS OF HISTORY
"GOD HAS TRULY BLESSED ME"
|Author : Terry Fulgham
|Life time membership as a UAW member,
Supporter of all Unions.
" Together We Stand Divide We Fall "
|Excerpt From Chapter - Two
|Chapter - Two
Man of the House
Send mail to contact battlingtheblessings with questions or comments about this web site. Copyright © 2008 Terry Fulgham. No part of this web site including photographs may be reproduced in any form without the express written
permission of the author. Last modified: July 5,2013
Author Terry Fulgham
I experienced my first killing in 1955. I was not present, nor did I know the person that was killed. It was such
a horrible murder that it made the news and sent shock waves throughout our neighborhood and the
community. This was the one time that I really saw my grandfather upset.
The murder was a shock to the world and showed how America really was and how colored people were being
treated in America.
My grandfather had just come home from work that afternoon and he wanted the family to hear what he was
about to read us. He held a Jet magazine in his hands and they had published photographs of the mutilated
body of a 14-year-old Chicago resident named Emmett Till, who was brutally murdered in Mississippi for
whistling at a white woman.
To be honest, everything that I remember about that incident is a little confusing. I had never seen anything
like it in my life. I remember not being able to sleep when I saw the pictures of Emmett Till’s dead body.
Can you imagine being eight years old and seeing something like that for the first time in your life?
I could see tears on my grandfather’s face and I could tell that he was very angry.
The death of Emmett Till touched us; it touched everybody. We were protected from a lot of that kind of talk in
our family. My family didn’t talk to us kids about grown-up business and the problems between blacks and
whites. My sisters and I didn’t really know that there was hatred between the races, until that day back in 1955
when poor, little Emmett Till was murdered.
In 2002, before Mamie Till-Mobley died, I had the honor to edit a video that a friend of mine who lived in
Chicago had videotaped. It was a presentation for the African American Chicago Police department to honor
Mamie Till-Mobley for Black History Month. This was a great honor for me.
After Emmit Till’s murder, my grandfather became more protective of our family. This is when I realized that
we, as colored people, were in a struggle for civil rights.
“Tragedy” is a word in the English language that I didn’t learn until I was 10-years-old, and once I learned it; I
wished that I would never have to hear this word again. In my life, tragedy has crossed my path many times.
I have since learned that we all will have experience with the word “tragedy.” What’s important to remember is
how we handle it.
If by some odd twist of fate, you have never experienced some form of tragedy, then you need to prepare
yourself. People who have had tragic experiences will tell you that sharing your thoughts and feelings with
friends and family who love and care about you is truly a blessing.
Being able to talk about tragedy helps everyone overcome life’s ups and downs. So many types of tragedy
affect us in different ways that I wouldn’t even dare try to name them all.
My first experience with real tragedy was in 1957, when our family suffered several setbacks.
My stepfather, Daddy James, passed away shortly after he was diagnosed with liver cancer. Daddy James
became ill in the early weeks of January and, after a two-week stay in the hospital, he died. My younger sister,
Sherrie, was only 4 years old. Sadly, Sherrie’s father died a week before her fifth birthday.
A month later, my mother and my sister Sherrie moved in with us. Now we were all together again.
Staying with my mother and grandparents was great. However, Sherrie was sad a lot and cried all the time, as
she had been close to her father. We all missed Daddy James. He was a great father to all of us. Over the next
month, we were trying to adjust to our new living situation and Daddy James’ death.
Then, tragedy struck again.
Papa Manchester was, without a doubt, the person who had the most profound effect on my life.
When he passed away in 1957, I was 10 years old. He was someone that I was very proud of and who I
respected a great deal. I loved my Papa Manchester very much.
He had many friends and family members who also loved and respected him. Papa Manchester’s death was the
second death that I experienced at an early age.
Both deaths left me with a horrible feeling of helplessness. I can’t ever recall my grandfather being ill or even
missing a day of work.
He always seemed to be in good health.
Before my grandfather’s death, one morning as I was getting ready for school, I could hear my grandmother in
her room praying. As I came closer to her bedroom door, I could see that my grandfather was still lying there
in bed. I knew then that something was terribly wrong. My grandfather was always at work by the time I got
up for school. To my surprise, he was still in bed.
I wondered what could be wrong. I pushed the door open and Big Mama turned around to face me. She was
crying. I went in to be close to her and asked “What’s wrong?”
She then said, “Your grandfather is not feeling very well.” Then she told me that I should get ready for school.
I looked around my grandmother and I could see that Papa Manchester was in pain. As I turned to leave, I
heard Papa Manchester’s pained voice cracking in a tone that I had never heard before, “Son, come here.”
Papa Manchester held out one of his arms, opening his hand for me to take it. He held my hand tightly. He
said, “Son, now you listen to your grandmother and mother.
I may be going to the hospital. Son, be good.” Then he said, “Son, I love you. Come here. Give me a hug.”
I looked at Big Mama to get her approval. She nodded her head, so I moved in closer to give my grandfather a
hug and kiss.
“I love you too, Papa Manchester,” I said.
“Reggie,” my grandmother said, “if we are not home from the hospital when you get out of school, you and
your sisters are to stay at the store until one of us comes home.” Which meant my mother was going to the
hospital with them.
Mr. Jimmy Porter was one of the clerks who worked in my grandparents’ store in the afternoon.
We would sometimes stay with him while he ran the store. He was also a good friend of the family and rented
one of my grandparents’ houses. We were in safe hands.
All day at school, I couldn’t think. I couldn’t get the thought of my grandfather being sick out of my head.
When school was out, I waited for Ranae. Sherrie was at an aunt’s house. Ranae finally met me in front of our
school, which was only one block away and around the corner from our house. As we were coming down
Jamieson Street, I could see Mr. Jimmy looking from the store doorway. He called out to us to hurry. He said
he had a customer, so we ran as fast as we could.
When we walked into the store, Mr. Jimmy gave Ranae and me a sandwich and a soda, and then he told us to
go outside to eat our sandwiches.
Outside, there was a bench that my grandfather and I built that sat in front of the store.
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