It was a good thing that the Scranton Railroad Yard allowed me to take off for three weeks.
Without pay of course.
Bogdan mapped out the route for me to take from Scranton to Savannah, Georgia. It involved railroads, rivers and canals - - - and a few miles of riding on a buckboard.
I will show the route to you someday.
Right now I can't wait to tell you about a family I met and what they taught me.
I had a great time.
That is Royal, his wife Queenie and their ten children.
Queenie is holding the youngest one they call Child. The two older ones on the right are named King and Sarah. The little guy with the tie standing in front of Sarah is Edward. To the left of Sarah are Emily and Gale. The little guy to the left of Gale is Ben and the little girl to the left of Ben is Kitt. Standing next to her father is his favorite; Cheeney. Now, and finally, can you see that little head between Cheeney and baby Child? That is Quiet. She is very bashful.
Royal built that home himself. It was so perfectly done I had to look closer. My bricklaying background kicked in when I saw the chimney.
I was a little nervy by knocking on the door and asking who built the home. When Royal told me he built the home I just had to learn some of his secrets of bricklaying; which obviously, he had a few.
It was a Saturday. When we finished discussing the finer points of bricklaying Royal asked me to come back on Sunday. He said that Queenie was having a birthday party for King and they would like to have me stop for some treats.
So I did; and had a great time.
Royal played an instrument that he made with his own hands. He made it out of an old tin tea box that someone had thrown out.
I wish you could have heard Royal play that old hunk of wood with the tea cabinet attached. He was absolutely amazing.
Now here is a guy that works with his hands laying up bricks and still has the sensitivity to not only make a banjo but play it well also.
So I asked him to play me his favorite song.
He told me he can't play a song - - - he can only play me a story.
And this was his story.
We sat there most of the day with Royal playing stories and Queenie silently weeping. I could see the tears running down her cheeks.
The older boy looked away - - - not in embarrassment - - - but more afraid that he was going to cry after seeing his mother cry.
Royal told another story I liked particularly well. It was sort of a wanderlust song but had that part about humble people just trying to make a go of it. They were stuck doing their work in the cold forest. However, their hearts, minds and imaginations traveled along the rails.
I don't think Royal knew it but there was a white man, yet to be born, who would catch the hearts of many other white men. He wasn't going to catch them with tricks or anything else. He was going to catch them with the clear logic of the black man.
As I was walking past that black church in Savannah I just had to write everything down that I heard the preacher say. It was all so clear.
I think that the "yet to be born" white story teller will do justice to the preacher's words.
Well, that is all I can say.
I am starting to feel a little like Queenie's older boy.