By Barney Blakeney
I tend to relate memories to music. Songs trigger memories for me – where I was, what I was doing, how I felt. Last Saturday made me think of Ice Cube’s “Today Was A Good Day”. The lyrics, which I sometimes think are stupid, are set to the tune of The Isley Brothers song “Footsteps In The Dark”. I like the premise of Ice Cube’s song – today was a good day. In his song Ice Cube outlined a lot of stuff he’d done during the day. But at its end, he was able to say, “Today was a good day”.
Saturday was a good day for me. It started off rough, but at the end, I appreciated how much good there is in the days we’re blessed to live. I’d had a rough week – a lot of stuff went on. There’s always a lot of work to do. I can’t brag or complain about how much work I do. There are folks out here who run circles around me when it comes to working.
My old high school teacher and church brother Mr. James Barr is among them. Mr. Barr was my high school social club advisor. He gave a bunch of us guys, The Bohemians, an opportunity to grow under a role model who exemplified non-judgmental generosity. Today, after an Illness that’s left him a wheelchair-bound usher at our church – we’re all grown men – and he’s still that role model.
My week had been taxing – I work hard and play just as hard. All week long it was one thing after another. Friday was a beast. I had to work in the office and then met a friend and neighbor for an update and planning conference about a community project, the Lowcountry Low Line. The project is several years old, but still in the planning stages. It’ll likely take a number of years to pan out. White folks are like that – they plan stuff and employ vision and patience to see it through.
The vision for the Low Line, a community recreational space that follows the north/south footprint of I-26 and the old Norfolk Southern railroad tracks through the center of the peninsula, was introduced decades ago by the Riley administration. The peninsula in those days was predominantly Black. Riley put in a tennis court, basketball court and a few picnic tables, but the full vision never was brought to reality.
The vision was revived, some say now that gentrification has changed the peninsula demographics, and is underway to becoming the reality originally conceived. I think the concept always has been a good one – still is. But I don’t think the brothers on city council see that.
I’m not surprised. Those guys have been on council 20 years and didn’t see the gentrification that came into their front yards. More precisely, I don’t think they knew how to deal with what was coming or how to use it to our best advantage. The Low Line and International African American Museum will come. Blippjn’ and grippin’ won’t change that. Black folks must figure how to make those realities work in our best interest.
Friday night was my time. After a hard week, free time and a few dollars meant it was on! I must be a rooster, cause I can’t do it like I used ta’. I hurt myself, ya’ll. Not too bad, but I can’t run all night and get up and go the next morning like I did back in the day. Back in the day I used to go three/four days at a time non-stop! Now, it takes me three/four days to recover from one night of revelry. Saturday morning came hard, but I had stuff to do – all day!
What got me over is I’ve learned to make work fun. It helps that most of the stuff I do I enjoy. My dad, a hard-working man with a fourth grade education trying to raise four bad behind kids, taught me to smile through it all. Find that thing that makes you laugh and push through it. Most folks love to see others enjoy themselves – like the lady who cooks because she loves to see people eat. My old man was that kind of guy, so he got a kick out of his work. And as Wilfred Johnson says, “Work don’t stop!”
After work I stopped by the store to pick up a few things. At the grocery store this guy ticked me off badly when I approached to ask a question. He looked like someone I knew. Before I could ask the question, he emphatically retorted, “No!” Walking away I overheard him tell someone near him, “Any time they come up to you they want money.” I guess I looked a mess. I’d been cooking crabs all day. I was tired. I guess I looked the part. My mom always said when someone gives you stone, give them bread. So I walked back to the guy, said I had no intention of asking for money and told him to have a blessed day.
At the nearby dollar store there was a young woman in the parking lot at the back of her car giving away takeout trays of prepared food. Casually dressed in shorts she didn’t look like a church lady, but I figured she had to be working with some ministry – giving people food and asking if there were others she could give some to. I had $2 and thought I’d give it toward her ministry. When I approached her she said she had no ministry. She said it was her birthday and that’s what she was doing to celebrate. I gave her the $2 as a birthday present. Twice in one hour I saw how looks can be deceiving.
On my way home, I stopped by Pokey’s and had a glass of sweet red wine. We watched the end of the movie ‘Diggstown’ starring Louis Gossett Jr. I was beat, had been ticked off and uplifted all in that day. I went to bed humming Ice Cube’s lyrics – “Today was a good day”.