Because I received several requests, I have included the excerpt of Dad’s StoryCorps interview on his role in the race riots at the University of Georgia in 1961.
For readers unfamiliar with that part of American history, I will give a brief synopsis.
Much of the Southern United States was racially segregated until around 1960. Where I live in Charleston, one can still see remnants of the segregated era, from a separate ‘colored’ entrance on an old theater downtown, to a wall that divided waiting rooms at the train station. We don’t use these things anymore, but the layer is there.
The Federal government forced desegregation in the South in the early 1960’s. Southern universities, which had historically been all white, were required to admit people of color for the first time, and many of the other separate barriers mentioned above were abolished. In the South, it was not a popular position, and it led to unrest, like the riot at the University of Georgia, in which my father played a key heroic role.
His story is about six minutes long. Set it to play and listen while you do something else at your desk. It always gives me chills to hear him tell it, and I’m very proud of him for standing up and taking what was, at the time, a very unpopular position.
Click here for Dad’s story about the UGA race riots.
MTM got up extra early this morning. It was our final breakfast of the trip to Tennessee, and he wanted the oatmeal to be super-special for Dad. He laced it with apples and maple syrup. A singular cup of coffee spangled Dad’s place.
Dad greeted all of the effort in his own unique way.
The Biscuit Box. We need to stop there on the way back.
Dad, that’s out of the way. OUT OF THE WAY!
Nu-uh. It ain’t. I been there before. The Biscuit Box. It’s good eatin’.
It doesn’t really matter to Dad that I cannot eat biscuits. I can’t eat much of anything he’s selected on this long weekend of stomach persecution. Cheeseburgers. Apple pie. French fries. Moon pies. I crunched my unsatisfying lettuce at every meal.
DAD!! THERE’S SOMEBODY YOU DON’T KNOW!!
Huh? Where at?
And, that’s how I stole many a french fry off his plate. I was performing a service, saving him from a diabetic coma.
We stood in line at The Biscuit Box in Chatsworth, Georgia. Miles out of the way. MTM ordered a bacon and egg biscuit and a jelly biscuit. I ordered a bacon biscuit, heartburn flaring before I even bit into it.
Dad ordered grits and eggs, sausage and toast. He didn’t even HAVE a dang biscuit.
According to Dad, he was born in a hospital above a drug store in Dayton, Tennessee. That building was an institution.
The Scopes Trial occurred in Dayton, Tennessee. Only, it didn’t start at the storied courthouse with the battle between William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow in what was the biggest courtroom in the state.
The seeds of it germinated in Robinson’s Drug Store on Main Street. Just imagine the possible twists in strategy, with laudanum available to enhance the ice cream float from the soda fountain. The folks behind the trial plotted, and they planned. In 21st century journalistic fashion, they stirred up a story that became an international sensation.
Right inside the building where my father was born.
We toured the courthouse, and Dad talked so much that we all worked up an appetite. When we walked into Cafe Pascale, Dad waltzed up to a table of strangers and made their acquaintance.
I was born right here in Dayton. I was. Above the old Robinson’s Drug Store. You know that place, do you? They done gone and tore it down, but I was born there. In the hospital upstairs. That Doctor Broyles – you remember him? – he circumcised me.
DAD!!!!!!!!! THOSE PEOPLE ARE EATING!!!!!!!!!
No, I’m not gonna eat much. Do you have any apple pie and ice cream?
That’s a big ole birch tree. Beautiful tree.
Traveling with Dad is a study in trees. The kinds. The colors. The ages. One sees the forest AND the trees.
When he worked, he was a forester. His specialty was wood procurement. Translated, he bought trees. I remember him coming home when I was a little girl. In waders, carrying on about the rattlesnake he shot in a swamp that day.
In a time when it became increasingly unpopular to harvest trees, Dad couldn’t stop talking about his job. He STILL talks about it.
That beech tree there. Yeah, I could get a bunch of firewood out of that thing.
Look at that oak tree. That’d make some pretty furniture.
Roy has always been a man with a lot of wood. Long live the Tour du Roi.
Travel with Dad is a hoot. He rides shotgun, though he offers to drive. AFTER admitting that he got lost on the way to meet us in Columbia.
I am always reluctant to get behind the wheel when Dad is in the car. The combination is like a nuclear reactor. With a hairline crack. I barely geared The Tank into reverse before we had a situation.