At the start of each New Year, I carve out time to reflect on my life and activities during the preceding year. I follow the same process in relation to my column. The number of letters, e-mails and telephone calls I have received indicate that many of you relate to my columns and have shared with me how they take you back in time. As I reviewed my columns from 2022, I decided, as I have done in years past, to share several of these columns with you today.
Some columns, I have been told, shared information that was relatively unknown and some touched on subjects that had been forgotten. So, join with me as I randomly resurrect columns that appeared last year and provide you with a “bird’s eye view” of their focus. Perhaps a second trip back in the day will result in experiencing those fond memories again; fond memories that may bring smiles and, perhaps, tears.
How many of you were able to relate to my column regarding the period when all Philadelphia police cars were red? I suspect that those of the millennial class had no idea that Philadelphia police cars were once red. It was not necessary to strain one’s eyes looking for a police car as red was a dead giveaway that a police car was in the vicinity. Only the Tribune’s older readers recall hearing, “Here comes the red car.” But as I noted, red police cars disappeared under the Frank Rizzo administration. Perhaps you were amused by my references in this column to the “paddy wagon” or the “meat wagon” used by police to transport the injured or deceased?
Then I had a lot of fun writing the column in which I referenced the name of John Elroy Sanford whose stage name was Redd Foxx. How could you not laugh at an incident he described that went like this: a drunk gets on a bus, staggers down the aisle, and flops into a seat beside an elderly lady? The lady says to the man, “Mister, you are drunk! You are extremely drunk. You are disgustingly drunk.” The drunk looks at the lady and says, “Miss, you are ugly! You are very ugly. But, tomorrow, I am going to be sober.” This incident led me to resurrect wines that you drank in the past such as Taylor’s Port, Muscatel, Tiger Rose, Gypsy Rose, San Juan Blackberry, Mogen David, Catawba Pink, Blue Nun and Cold Duck, to name a few. I’m sure that some of you consumed these drinks, back in the day.
Perhaps you enjoyed the columns regarding trading comic books or foods of the past. Maybe my resurrecting the Sears, Roebuck Christmas Book was a perfect lead into shopping for the Christmas holiday. What about product mascots, store lay-aways, banking practices of the past, the disgusting ring worms that many of us had as children, and items that are no longer found on automobiles? Were you able to relate to this column by remembering things such as running boards, rumble seats, real bumpers and continental kits?
Some of you contacted me to express your humor over the column that dealt with various ways to answer the telephone. Some of you apparently tried answering your telephone calls with “Jake from State Farm” or “The City Morgue.” Did you learn from my column regarding board games when I described in detail the game, Black and White? Were you surprised to learn that there were a number of foods that we enjoy today that were used as medicines in the past?
Were you aware of Annie Minerva Turnbo Malone whom I introduced in my Black History column? It may have surprised you to know that this entrepreneur preceded Madam C.J. Walker and built a successful cosmetology empire. As I pointed out, but for the Nigerian Proverb calling for storytellers, this story would have been buried, never to see the light of day, and left, back in the day.
I indicated earlier that I could not comment on all of my columns from 2022. Some of you have shared with me the columns that were most meaningful to you. Others have asked about the columns that most appealed to me. Well, I am pleased you asked. There are four columns that stand out more than others that are on this list.
My Aug. 7, column on finished basements was special as it contained many elements that I experienced in finishing basements as a child and young adult in my parent’s home and my home. My Oct. 12, column giving recognition to the centennial of the Rev. Dr. Leon H. Sullivan was very special as my introduction to and foundation for the world of work, developed under his leadership was reflected in this column. Blacks in professional baseball was also special as it highlighted many memories of my favorite Black players and events. The photo that accompanied this Nov. 6, column, showing Willie Mays catching Vic Wertz’s fly ball to deep center field made it even more special. But, my column of May 29, about the Black Bottom was by far the 2022 column that gave me the most pleasure. This column contained many of the fundamental qualities that have impacted who I am and what I am; qualities that were ingrained in me from my days growing up in the 600 block of 43rd Street in the infamous down the bottom, or Black Bottom, back in the day.
Writing this column, as I have shared with you previously, is an enjoyable experience. I have been encouraged by some of you to compile all of my columns into a book; that project is still under consideration. I thank all of you for following my column each Sunday. Your warm and thoughtful comments, and the ideas for future columns, have been appreciated. I look forward to providing you with new memories in 2023 as we continue our trips together, back in the day.
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