My dad didn't want to hear any malingering or complaining, of course. We had over a mile of walking from our home to the Lubbock Street Church of Christ, and it wasn't going to walk itself.
He always walked like a man on a mission, appropriate, I suppose, for a preacher. Don't call him "Reverend" and don't call him "father" and don't call him "pastor." He was a preacher, and that's what he wanted you to call him.
He took long strides at a fast gait, and he would run off and leave you if you didn't keep up. Although only 5'8, he still towered over my not quite yet 5 feet of sixth grader.
I knew that white people and black people didn't go to church together, or school together, or socialize together, or live together, but I didn't really understand segregation and racial hatred. Mama grew up in Idaho, and she would have none of that in her home. Daddy was a preacher who lived his beliefs, one of which was that all humans have equality under God.
Going to an all-black church in the South in 1960 was something not many white boys ever did, but I did it. A hundred times or more. Daddy would take me with him, once a week, when he would go preach. I immediately loved the fact that the singing was so much more lively than I was accustomed to, and I simply loved people saying "Amen!" and "Yes sir!" and "Preach it!" That was some heady stuff for a 10 year-old boy.
After church, we would always go over to someone's house and have Sunday dinner, which is what we folks back then called Sunday lunch. The hostess would cook a grand meal, and we would eat our fill. Kids usually ate at the cardboard table on the screened-in porch. Then after dinner, kids all went outside to play. After about an hour of play, Daddy would yell "let's go," and we would be off to walk back home, from their part of town to ours.
On very rare occasions, when we would be walking well into the exclusively black streets, someone would yell something ugly at us, or maybe throw a rock at us. Once, someone shot me on the back of my thigh with a bb gun, and it hurt like the dickens. Daddy said "just keep walkin', son, just keep walkin.'" And we did. Never returned an ugly comment, never looked back, just kept walkin'. He never even spoke of those incidents, which told me I shouldn’t either.
We did that for two years. All I knew was that a black elder had heard Daddy on his 5 minute weekly radio spot on KRBA, and called Daddy to ask him to preach at that church. Daddy took on preaching there once a week, in addition to his regular duties at our church.
Daddy died in 1971, and I never got to ask him so many questions I have, questions I never really thought about until after he was gone. Why did we walk each time?
Was that some kind of statement?
I have to believe he did it the way he did it for a reason. We could have driven, but we walked from the all-white side of Paul Avenue to the all-black side, and then we walked a half mile into the middle of the black community. We carried only Bibles, his and mine.
It was the kind of courage one doesn't see often. That was my Daddy. He died at age 45 in 1971.
Copyright 2019, Jim “Pappy” Moore. All rights reserved.