Friday, June 17, 2011

A Childhood Story Revisited

Today during our interview, my father shared a story with me that I'd long since forgotten.

To be honest, I can't remember exactly what he shared on camera today, I was still kind of reeling from visiting Booker's Place for the first time.  But I do remember the story as my dad told it to me as a child.

When he was about 14 he was walking down a dirt road and he got into an argument with some white boys.  They were making fun of him and he picked up something and threw it at them.  This landed him in jail.  My dad is really tall, he's 6'8 and has was about this height even at 14 years old.  The cops assumed he was a grown man.  They threw him in jail and beat him.  Every hour or so they would come back and beat him some more.

When my father didn't come home that night, his stepfather knew something was wrong.  He went looking for my dad and found him at the police station.  He was able to convince them that my father was only 14 years old and they let him go. When I was a kid this story always scared the heck out of me.  I didn't really understand how much can change in just a few decades, so I was always really afraid of Mississippi.  It seemed like a place that still had nothing but dirt roads and white cops who'd beat you to death if they had a chance.

Ironically, when my dad shared this story on camera today, he credited this event with saving him from a life of crime.  He realized how unfair and horrible incarceration of any kind could be and he started working harder to keep his nose clean.


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