Poetry & Short
The Homeless Stranger
~ ~ ~
typical of many small, Creole communities in the 1930's. Nestled in the
heart of Central Louisiana, the yard of almost every home was adorned with
beautiful magnolia trees, and during the summer, the fragrance of their large,
brilliant-white flowers would blend with that of the honeysuckles which grew
wild on vines along the dusty streets and from every back yard fence.
We lived in the
black section of town on the opposite side of the railroad tracks in an area
commonly referred to by all as the Quarters. While we boasted a few
teachers and an abundance of preachers, most of the inhabitants earned a meager
living as servants, mill workers, or peddlers who passed through the Quarters
twice a day—each
with their own special, colorful chants which were spoken with a mixture of
English and Creole. During the summer, the peddlers sold such items as crawfish,
milk, eggs, blackberries, sugar cane, melons, snap beans, tomatoes, and other
garden produce. During the winter months, they sold fire wood, fish, and wild
My mother was a
house wife. Her only outside activity involved the church where she played piano
and sang in the choir. My father worked as a laborer at the local sawmill
earning fifteen to eighteen dollars a week. Out of this sum came expenses for
the house payment, food, clothing, and wood for the stove. What was left went
for miscellaneous expenses such as church donations, ice for our ice box, and
last, but not least, burial insurance.
insurance was similar to life insurance as we know it today. They were small
policies with a face value of no more than one to two-hundred dollars—just
enough to cover the cost of one's burial, and of course, no self-respecting
citizen would dare be caught dead without one.
My parents had
two such policies, one for each, that was sold to them by a white Cajun
that we all called "Frenchy, the Insurance Man".
typical of most Cajuns, those trapped between two worlds, unwilling to accept
the new, and equally unwilling to release the old. Most of the time, Frenchy
wore a cane-woven straw hat, especially during the summer, and overalls with a
starched, white shirt and a bright green tie which he never tied. He walked with
a slight limp, the result of wound that he had received during the First World
handicap, Frenchy was an extremely friendly person who usually had a kind word
for everyone. He, however, did tend to get a little testy whenever he
encountered difficulties in collecting his weekly insurance premiums. In those
cases, more likely than not, he would give his customers an impromptu lecture
about how they should manage their budgets in order to satisfy their
Paydays for all
occupations occurred like clockwork every Friday evening—creating
an air of excitement and anticipation throughout the Quarters. The lonesome wail
of the sawmill's whistle promptly at five o'clock would mark its place in time
for the whole town. Supper would be cooked early, and wives would sit on their
steps, sometimes in groups, laughing and gossiping, and waiting for their men to
come home with their weekly earnings. And while they were so occupied, old man
Edwards would sit beneath the shade of his favorite persimmon tree strumming an
ancient steel guitar.
favorite spot was in the swing mounted on our galerie. The evening shade
from the china-ball tree in our front yard made it ideal. From there, she had a
clear view of the Sante Fe Railway and the direction from which my father always
came. My sister, Delores, was a toddler, and while our mother relaxed in the
swing, she and I would play in the front yard behind the security of our once
white, in need of paint, picket fence.
When my father
turned the corner, my mother would announce his arrival, and we would race to
greet him at the gate. He would lay his bicycle aside, pick us up, and nuzzle
our necks playfully with his day-old beard while we squealed, covered our necks
with our hands, and dodged his canine growling antics. Even today, with little
effort, I can close my eyes and imagine the odor of the pine and hickory sawdust
mixed with that of sweat and Bull Durham chewing tobacco that permeated his
grocery bills would be tallied and paid, and debts between friends—settled.
Children would get Lagniappes, penny candies or cookies from the
storekeeper, while our parents received extra measures of fatback, red beans, or
there would be an increase in activity at the "Blue Hall", a popular, local Juke
Joint. Drinking and dancing took place in the front half of the two
story, boxlike structure, while drinking and gambling took place in the
rear. What took place upstairs in the dimly lit rooms inhabited by some of them
"fast women," as my mother used to call them, was a secret known only to our
parents. We, the children, of course, had our own suspicions.
The revelry and
the heavy, gut bucket blues bass beat of the jukebox would last long into
the night. And I would lay awake, looking out the window, watching the dazzling
display of the lightning bugs, fighting sleep, and yet, waiting for it to come
and conquer me.
following payday, Frenchy would pass through the Quarters, house to house,
collecting his weekly insurance premiums.
Comment ca va?"
comme sa, (so, so)," was my mother's usual reply.
"You got you
gon' be dead money today, Ruby?" Frenchy would ask while wiping the sweat from
his sun-reddened face on the sleeve of his already wet shirt.
In our case,
the premium was twenty cents a week for the two policies. Frenchy would collect
the money, make an illegible notation in his school-paper notebook, then proceed
to the next house, his chapeau de paille (straw hat) bouncing in
syncopation with his short, choppy stride.
One week, for
several days, there were some mechanical difficulties at the saw mill and my
father could not work. The men, however, were still required to report and
remain on site each scheduled work day until the repairs were completed—all
without pay. As a result, this unexpected shortage of funds threw my parents
already unmanageable budget into total chaos.
came by the following Tuesday, my mother explained the problem to him and stated
she did not have the money then, she would try and catch up the following week.
The second week
came and we were still no better off. Again, she informed Frenchy that she would
try to have it by the next week, for sure... "If the Lord's willin'."
Lord was not willing, for when the third week arrived, we were worse off than
before and my mother was too embarrassed to tell Frenchy again that she did not
have the money. Besides, she now needed sixty cents.
So, to relieve
herself of this situation, she instructed me to tell Frenchy when he came that
she was not home. I was a little over four years old then, but followed
instructions very well.
watched for his approach from her bedroom window, I played marbles on her
freshly, lye scrubbed, wood floor, enjoying its sweet-pine odor and the sight of
its clean, bleached-white expanse. As Frenchy approached, my mother rushed back
into the living room and quickly repeated her instructions, "Now, when the
insurance man knocks, you open the door and tell him... My-mother-is-not-home.
replied. Well... it seemed simple enough.
positioned me at the door where I waited—poised.
As soon as Frenchy knocked, I jerked open the door and shouted as loud as I
could, "My mother's not home."
prie! (Doggonit)," Frenchy said as he slapped the side of his thigh with his
notebook heavily. I jumped. "Well, where you Maman done gone at?"
hesitation, I replied, "Behind the door."
From the look
on Frenchy's face, I knew immediately that something had gone wrong. My
suspicions were confirmed when the big hands of my mother lifted me by the scuff
of my neck, and with a backhand flip, sent me skidding across the floor in a
wild bouncing turn. Shamed, she apologized to Frenchy humbly.
"Ruby, I don't
believe you done done a thing like dat. Dat's one no-for-good, dirty doggone
you little boy lie like you done did."
"I know it
wasn't right, Mr. Frenchy. I just don't have the money yet."
don't make me no sense. Dat sawmill been sawing for most two weeks, now. What
you do? Take you money and go buy a new dress or something?"
"No sir, Mr.
Frenchy. Haven't bought a new dress for more than two years.... Just seems like
every penny I get goes down a black hole or something."
"Well, what you
gon' do? Dat's no good, you gon' die and all with no 'sorrance for your
"Next week, Mr.
Frenchy. I'll have it for sure next week—Lord
"Well, Ruby, I
know hard times been stomping on your corns just like mine. But he done went his
way and gone now. And the longer you wait, the mo' you gon' owe. Now, you fix
you head so you don't forgot to pay next week when I gon' come back. You hear?"
"I hear, Mr.
picked me up and we stood in the doorway swaying side to side as Frenchy left
and proceeded to the next house. Tears swelled in the corners of her eyes, then
ran down the chubby cheeks of her beautiful face, fell to her mammoth breasts,
and melted the starch in her homemade, gingham dress. I didn't understand why,
but suddenly, I felt very sad, too. My mother later told me that at that moment,
she was promising God that she would never teach a child to lie again.
My baby sister,
who had been asleep, started to cry. She put me down then, and we went to attend
The next week,
it seems the Lord was still not willing and our financial situation was even
worse. And the closer Tuesday approached, the more depressed my mother became.
dreaded day arrived. The morning sun found her up early, preparing herself for
the inevitable. Outside, while the chickadees and red-birds chattered away, my
father left and joined the line of men passing on their way to the mill, their
syrup-bucket lunch cans pinging brightly against the metal buttons of their well
worn, denim overalls.
care, my mother cleaned our house, put on a fresh starched dress, combed her
hair, and powdered her face like she did each Sunday morning before we went to
church. Afterwards, she spent the rest of the morning preparing and steeling
herself emotionally for the task at hand, singing "Trees" and trying to decide
the nicest way to tell Frenchy that she still did not have the money.
watched from her bedroom window, her face set and intense. Before long, I heard
her talking to herself, and the more she talked the angrier she grew. "... and
who does he think he is, anyway? Always waving them raggedy papers in my face.
Hear him tell, you'd swear I was dying tomorrow.... Here, I can't even buy
myself a descent pair of drawers, eating fatback and grits, and him hollering
about dying money. White folks don't give a damn about nobody but themselves—must
think black folks is fools!"
On and on, she
ranted. I had never seen her so angry before, not even the time she got mad,
chased my father out the house, and stood on the front porch throwing every
biscuit we had down the street after him. She was truly angry then, but that was
nothing compared to her anger on this day.
raving stopped and I knew instinctively that Frenchy was coming down the street.
In silence, she got up, bristled, took a deep breath, and started stoutly toward
the door. I waited wild eyed and expectantly. My mother was a big woman and I
truly feared for Frenchy's life. But then, at the last moment, just before
Frenchy knocked, my mother suddenly turned, grabbed me and my sister, and we
dashed out the back door and into our Cabane (outhouse) where we hid.
she said as she sat down with my sister on her lap and leaned over to peek out
through a knot hole in the door. While she was doing so, I peeked down into the
black depths of one of the toilette holes, trying to see beyond the maggots and
soiled pink pages of the Pittsburgh Courier newspaper, and wondering if these
were the "black holes" my mother often referred to—the
ones where all our money went. In our solitude, we could hear Frenchy knocking
loudly at our front door. We, of course, made not a sound.
Frenchy got tired and went away. When we were sure that he was gone, my mother
released a sigh of relief, got up, and we went walking way down by the school
house, my sister on her hip, and me, trailing close behind.
It was well
past supper time when we finally returned home. Solemnly, my mother started her
fires, and cooked a hasty meal. She fed my father first, then fixed our plates.
After cleaning her kitchen, we all followed her into her bedroom where we knelt
beside her bed to say our nightly prayers. And while I prayed for God to give me
my own bicycle, I knew that she was praying for Him to deliver her from her
dilemma, before Tuesday—If
willing. I, of course, thought her
case was as hopeless as mine.
~ ~ ~
Sunday after church, Mrs. Benson, one of the local school teachers, approached
my mother and asked her to consider giving piano lessons to her daughter. At
first, my mother was reluctant, offering excuses about her qualifications as a
music teacher. But when Mrs. Benson offered to pay her a month in advance, my
mother's face suddenly lit up like a Christmas tree. She agreed, and the price
was set at twenty-five cents a lesson, twice a week.
That day was
the beginning of a new career for my mother—one
that enabled her to pay her burial insurance premiums and, at the same time,
supplement our family income. I, of course, was delighted that God had answered
her prayers. Two years passed, however, before He remembered my bicycle....
taught piano to the neighborhood children for almost sixteen years, saving the
excess until she had enough money to enroll in college at Southern University.
She and my younger brother graduated together....
(C) 1987 Herbert R. Metoyer
Southfield, MI 48075
Tel: (248) 552-0582
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Judgment Day on South Street
Herbert R. Metoyer, Jr.
~ ~ ~
This is a
short, humorous, fictitious story about a Chevrolet Sedan and its role in
judgment day on South Street. The story is based on an actual incident that
occurred in 1943, in a little southern town by the name of Oakdale in Central
Louisiana. The names of the characters were changed to protect the innocent and
the guilty alike. I hope you find the story interesting....
~ ~ ~
In May 1943, I
was eight years old, in the fourth grade. It was a hot, humid night. The only
kind you would expect to find in Louisiana at the start of the summer.
We lived in an
old house of very modest standards that grew as our family grew. My much younger
brother, Bryford, and I shared a single twin bed in a back room beneath a tin
roof. Although it could get quite hot there during the summer months, it was one
of the best places in the world to hibernate during a thunder shower. On such
occasions, I would spend many pleasurable hours there, reading, and listening to
the many random, rhythmic patterns of the rain.
The walls of
the room where my brother and I slept were covered with a variety of old
newspapers. In addition to being highly decorative, they also served as
insulation during the winter, and a mosquito barrier during the summer. My
favorite comics, "Prince Valiant" and "Flash Gordon," graced positions of
eminence above the head of our bed.
wasted several hours of sleep trying to make sure that my brother stayed on his
side during the night. Most of the time, I was unsuccessful. I slept on my back.
My brother was a side sleeper. His favorite position was the "fetal curl" with
his feet and legs thrown awkwardly toward my side of the bed.
So, I would lie
there, waiting in the night, like a spider watching his prey, just waiting for
him to move one inch toward my side. And when he did, I would take my left foot
with extreme prejudice, and joust him back onto his.
Now, don't get
me wrong. It was not a matter of me not wanting my brother to touch me. There
was, however, another matter of greater significance. My brother occasionally
wet the bed. Because I was twice his size, he would naturally gravitate to my
side during the night. In the mornings, we would wake up arguing about who wet
who. Since the evidence was almost always on my side of the bed, you can see
that I was usually in an untenable position.
Worst yet, was
when this would happen during the winter. We had a potbellied, wood heater that
my mother kept burning during the day until we went to bed. On those cold
nights, when he would wet, we would have to lie there freezing in it until she
got up the next morning and started a new fire.
we were still jockeying for position at about 1:30 a.m., I had no idea that
Judgment Day had arrived on South Street.
On this street,
lived some of the finest citizens in our little black, southern community. Each,
you might say, a pillar of the society.
Mr. and Mrs.
Sudds, my sister Delores' godparents, lived on the east side of the street. We
all referred to them as Marraine and Parraine, Creole for Godmother and
Godfather. Parraine, who some folks considered a little too uppity, ran a small
grocery store and filling station of the hand pump variety. His wife was a
school teacher in the Hardwood Quarters, a sawmill housing project across town.
street from them lived the McWilliams family with their four beautiful daughters
(one of whom was the apple of my eye at the time) and son, little McWilliams,
street, lived Mrs. Evelenor Lewis. Mrs. Lewis was the typical little old lady
who had raised hell all her life, then in her later years, to atone for her
sins, she preached "Hell and Damnation" to everyone else in town. Her unofficial
position as a "Saver of Souls" gave her license to meddle in everyone's affairs,
and she did this on a more than frequent basis.
The rest of the
people on the street, like Jesse Bell, JuJu Joe, Delafosse, and others, were
neither overly religious or sinful. Just ordinary people, who did ordinary
This was true
for everyone, I guess, except "Bulldog". Everyone swore Bulldog was the worst
sinner in town. Although Bulldog never bothered anyone, he was prone to sip
liberally and frequently from a bottle of Elderberry wine that he carried in his
back pocket for this purpose. Frankly, most of the time he was drunk— surrounded
by that mystic aroma of liquor and urine that usually identified persons of his
In those days,
we all had "outhouses". A storm blew Bulldog's over and he never did set it back
upright. I don't know where he went for his more serious toilet duties, but I do
know that at any time, he was subject to come out on his front porch in full
view of anyone and relieve his bladder on a half-dead rose bush that his
deceased wife had once planted.
there weren't many blacks who could afford to own an automobile. Most of them
had mules or bicycles. A few had old, antique jalopies or trucks that rattled up
and down the dusty streets when they were dry, or churned the mud when they were
wet. This being the case, there were not many of them who understood fully how
the newer vehicles functioned.
My parents did
not own a vehicle of any type, except the bicycle my father rode to work at the
“Hardwoods” sawmill. Mr. McWilliams did. He had just bought a brand new, used,
baby blue Chevrolet sedan. Of course, this elevated his social position in the
community to a new height with friends and neighbors stopping by to congratulate
him and admire his new car.
Mac, you done yo`self right proud this time."
"Yeah, a whole
lot of them white folks ain't got no car like that'un you got."
"I don't know
Bro’ Mac, but if I was you, I wouldn't be driving that kar uptown cross
them tracks too much. Them Ku Kluxing Klan men might get mad— might
think you poking fun at'em."
"Yeah, you know
they can't stand to see a black man what done got hisself somethin'."
"Ain't it the
Of course, most
of the excitement was enjoyed by the children who examined the car in detail,
while laughing, playing, and begging for rides.
"Boy, bet that
kar can go 300 miles an hour—dust'll
be jes' flying."
kar go that fast."
"Well, I bet'ya
it'll go more'n 200."
don't know nothin' what you talking 'bout. That ain't no spanking, brand new car
"Well, my daddy
he get a job at that mill over in Mabbs, he gon' get us one. And his gon' be
some of the congestion around his house, Mr. McWilliams would load the car full
of kids and give them a ride around the quarters, stopping periodically to chase
some of the older boys off his running boards.
So, on this
particularly quiet summer night, about a week later, the stillness was shattered
when the car horn started blasting away for no apparent reason.
person out of the house and into the street was Mrs. Evelenor Lewis. Scared out
of her wits, she immediately started crying and shouting, "Oh, Lord! Oh, my
Lord, it's Judgment Day! Gather up the sheep. The day of reckoning's here.
Blessed be th' lamb."
blasting away and her crying and yelling, soon aroused everyone else. Sleepily,
they came out, and without one question, assumed that Judgment Day was, in fact,
Mrs. Sudds, who
was a very impressionable person, to say the least, soon had everybody marching
around in a daisy-chain circle singing "Neer-row My God to Thee".
through the refrain, Mrs. Lewis decided to go back to her house and will
away all of her worthless furniture and treasures. How this little old senior
citizen, ninety to one hundred pounds at the most, was able to drag her
furniture, including the couch, out onto her front porch, is still one of
Oakdale's unsolved mysteries.
no-one in particular, she yelled, "Reverend Wieley, you gets my mother's Holy
Bible and two of them guinea hens out back. The rest goes to my cousin Rochelle.
Tell Ladybird, she can have my white, rabbit-coon, fur coat."
Then, down the
street she yelled, "Mrs. Sudds you still want that yellow feather,
Sunday-go-to-meeting hat I bought last summer?".... The circle kept circling.
Most of the
larger kids were standing around, open mouthed, gazing up at the nighttime sky—waiting
for some sort of apparition to appear. Some of the younger kids, who did not
fully understand what was going on, were crying. Every dog in the neighborhood
was up, howling and barking while one playful pup raced around the outside the
circle taking periodic snaps at Mr. Sudds' flannel nightgown.
half-drunk, finally came out on his front porch to see what was going on and to
tend his ablutions.
Mrs. Lewis started shouting "Oh Lord, no, Bulldog! Don't do your business out
here in front of us and God Almighty. Have some decency ‘bout yourself!”
heard her, he showed no visible evidence, but continued with the task at hand.
shame, shame. Lord hav' mercy on his soul. I done what I could for 'im, Lord—but,
that old stinking goat been a'testing my Holy Spirit."
Then, down the
street, she shouted, "Everybody stop the singing! Stop singing and start up the
Prayer Band. Pray for po' Bulldog's soul, Satan's straining on 'im right now—dragging
him right straight down to the bottom of hell!"
To Bulldog she
down on thy knees, cast away thy sinful ways, and throw thyself down on the
mercy of the Lord." Then she did the "Sanctified Foot Stomp" (jumping up and
down while clapping her hands) and shouted, "Hallay-lew-ya! My God's a
ever really looking up, finished shaking his spigot, mumbled "Ole Bitch", then
turned and staggered back into his little shotgun shack.... The circle kept
McWilliams, Junior, who had been standing in the front yard during most of the
commotion, finally noticed that it was the car horn blowing. It took him,
however, several trips around the outside of the circle shouting, "Daddy, Daddy!
That's dat car hone blowing," before he was finally able to get his
father's attention. Abruptly, the circle stopped as if someone had suddenly
stuck a pole into the spokes of a fast moving bicycle.
After a few
moments of milling around, several of the adults followed the boy across the
yard to the car. Sure enough, it was the car horn— still
however, was still far from being resolved. Since no one present knew anything
about cars, there followed an impromptu brainstorming session to determine the
best way to stop the horn from blowing. And since the key was not in the car,
and the switch was already off, someone suggested throwing water on it.
"Well, I don't
know about that," Bro' Mac said, more than just a little skeptical, "I don't
wanna go chunking water on it and mess-up somethin'."
"Well, ya got
to do something, Bro' Mac," JuJu Joe pleaded, "Its been squawking like that most
an hour now and hit ain't let up none, yet."
could be standing out c'here all night," Jesse Bell added.
that the truth."
"Well, I don't
know about y'all, but I needs to get myself some sleep fo' that sun come up. I
got to go 'cross them tracks and hang out Mis' Vidrine's washing in the
morning," Jesse Bell stated as she folded her arms and reared back, quite
disgusted with the whole situation.
Now, Bro' Mac
loved his new car, dusted and polished it religiously every evening before he
retired. He, naturally, was deeply concerned. But, for lack of a better idea,
and to keep the peace among his neighbors, he reluctantly lifted the hood while
the rest formed a haphazard bucket brigade. At his signal, they feverishly
started pitching water on the engine. Finally, the battery ran down and the horn
died a slow painful death....
lightning bugs, for some reason, seemed to be lighting up the whole sky.
say, there were some mighty embarrassed folks standing around in the mud and
water, fanning away lightning bugs and slapping at mosquitoes. Not only were
they embarrassed in front of each other, but they were anticipating the even
greater embarrassment that would result if the rest of Oakdale found out about
circumvent this, they gathered all the children together and dared them with
threats on their lives, if they told another living soul about what had
settled, they each filtered back into their respective homes—ignoring
the pleas of Mrs. Lewis, who called for someone to come and help move her
furniture back into her house.
Since the black
quarters in Oakdale were pretty small, many of the people on the adjacent
streets had heard the commotion. Most of them thought someone had died. The next
morning at school, the teachers were especially anxious to find out what had
happened on South street. Naturally, they asked the children who lived there.
All disavowed any knowledge. This only served to incite my grandmother's
curiosity all the more.
Mrs. Edna C. Glenn, taught the fourth grade. She was a formidable woman, who was
an expert in the efficient use of an 18-inch ruler. It served as a ruler, a
swagger stick, a blackboard pointer, and when the situation dictated, it served
as an exceptional tool for "tanning" little black bottoms.
So, with that
introduction to my grandmother, you can understand the concern that Boo-Boo (one
of my classmates) displayed when she directed him, sternly, to the cloakroom.
With ruler in
hand, she demanded that he tell her what happened on South street. We all feared
for Boo-Boo's life and were quite surprised to hear my grandmother's laughter
pierce the silence.
rolling down her chubby cheeks, she stumbled out of the cloakroom hanging onto
the walls for support. She then called Mrs. Simpson and Mrs. Benson, the third
and fifth grade teachers, over. Back to the cloakroom they went. There was more
laughter and more tears.
had started to enjoy his new found popularity, spared none of the details.
This went on
all morning long with different teachers trooping in and out the cloakroom to
hear a firsthand account of the episode.
learned no lessons that day. We slept, threw spitballs, and sailed paper
airplanes until things returned to normal¾all
because of "Judgment Day on South Street."
(C) 1993 (Revised)
Herbert. R. Metoyer
Southfield, MI 48075
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I passed your way
street light where you often stand.
Hoping to see you
there waving your greetings,
curious strangers passing hurriedly in the night.
I searched each
quadrant anxiously and with care ,
to see beyond the icy rain that pelted
my windshield in the storm.
enraged because you were not there to lift
and help me to close another discouraging day,
I called you a
deranged, homeless, irresponsible buffoon,
old wino, no earthly good, and crazy as a loon.
How inconsiderate of
you to retreat to your hole
coward taking flight in the night and
leaving me to deal with my frustration alone.
Yet, even in my
anger, I pray that you are safe and well,
stones thrown at you in malice missed their mark,
That it is the chill
of the wind that has driven you
sanctuary within the glow of a warming fire.
Dear friend, I
beseech you, return to your post,
familiar place we both know, your nightly haunt
Return, so that I
may see your face,
so that I
may look upon your misfortune and know,
that I am sane and the rest of the world is alive and doing well.
Ó 1992 Herbert R. Metoyer
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It is late evening,
at the brow of an early morning,
my book of prose lies dormant
upon my knee.
I am alone, sitting in my room,
listening to the roar of the deafening
that crowds and pesters me.
It is everywhere, standing in the corners,
clinging to the walls, and crouching
beneath my bed,
like the griffin of my
Sometimes, when the moment is right,
I think I can hear your voice,
soft and gentle, and yet
It calls to me, I hesitate to answer,
because, I know the night, and I know
and I know it is playing
another of its tricks,
Upon my weary mind.
How I do long to be with you....
Herbert R. Metoyer
Crazy Georgia lived in my hometown of Oakdale, LA. When I
was a young boy, during the 1940’s, Georgia would pass by our house on
her way down to the end of the Sante Fe rail road, a train that made
daily trips to Jasper Texas and back. On special days, Georgia would
wear her wedding dress. I saw her many times standing in middle of the
tracks cussing like a sailor. Sometimes she would get on her knees,
place her ear to the rail to see if the train was coming. Georgia
integrated my home long before the civil rights bill was passed. She
went where she wanted to go at any time she wanted to go. This included
white churches and restaurants.
Sometimes, when she passed our house, some of us boys
would throw rocks at her to get her mad so we could hear her cuss. Tin
cans worked better than rocks. Tin cans would really set her off. One
day, my mother caught us and after she tanned my behind, she told me the
story about why Georgia was the way she was.
It seems that Georgia was engaged to be married to a man
called “Mister Black.” Mr. Black worked on the Sante Fe rail-line. About
2 weeks before the wedding, he was killed in an train accident. Since,
he was from Texas, His relatives buried him, never knowing that he was
supposed to get married. By the time word reached Georgia about the
death of her betrothed a month or so later, Georgia had already gone off
the deep end into a place from which she never returned. Below are the
words to the song....
There’s a woman in my hometown
And she lives there in misery
Folk believe that she is crazy
But I know what loneliness can be
Her man left her one winter morning
Just two weeks before their wedding day
Climbed aboard that long black train
Never knowing and living his last day
And Georgia loved him, her man black
Hold On, Hold on Gal
Your man ain’t never coming back
When that death train made Jasper, Texas
A big iron wheel crushed his life away
And they buried him without her knowing
No on told her, there would be no wedding day
Now you may see folk who dress in red
And you may see some who always dress in black
But po Georgia wears her wedding gown
Still waiting for her man to come back
Now, in the evening when the sun goes down
And the blowing wind makes a mournful sound
She will drop down up on her knees
And listen with her ear pressed to the ground
If you look out through your window
And you see her standing out in the rain
You can believe me, or go ask my mama
She’s waiting for that 5 o’clock train
And she loved him, but things happen like that
Just Hold On, Hold On Gal
And be careful on them railroad tracks
Herbert R. Metoyer
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It is the end of summer.
know because a slight chill
Has forced me to button my chemise.
tuck in my chin, watching as the trees
Shed their beauty,
Their leaves falling like tears
In multicolors of browns, reds and golds.
And as I watch this amazing process
My thoughts turn to you.
can hear your voice clearly
Each time a playful wind stirs the fallen colors
Speaking of things like love and loneliness,
Time and chance.
And I am left wondering about the future
About what the snows of winter will bring,
Wondering why I long for you so.
But for the moment,
will return to my abode
Build a small fire
Wrap myself in a blanket
With your love placed close to my heart,
And there it shall remain forever.
No matter what
the seasons may bring….
Herbert R. Metoyer
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