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Born May 18, 1953; got saved at Truett Memorial BC in Hayesville, NC 1959. On rigged ballot which I did not rig got Most Intellectual class of 71, Gaffney High School. Furman Grad, Sociology major but it was little tougher than Auburn football players had Had three dates with beautiful women the summer of 1978. Did not marry any of em. Never married anybody cause what was available was undesirable and what was desirable was unaffordable. Unlucky in love as they say and even still it is sometimes heartbreaking. Had a Pakistani Jr. Davis Cupper on the Ropes the summer of 84, City Courts, Rome Georgia I've a baby sitter, watched peoples homes while they were away on Vacation. Freelance writer, local consultant, screenwriter, and the best damn substitute teacher of Floyd County Georgia in mid 80's according to an anonymous kid passed me on main street a few years later when I went back to get a sandwich at Schroeders. Had some good moments in Collinsville as well. Ask Casey Mattox at www.clsnet.org if he will be honest about it. I try my best to make it to Bridges BBQ in Shelby NC at least four times a year.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

The Foxes Leave Cherokee County South Carolina 1978

     


    In mid July of 1978 I decked myself out in a tux, white shorts and Furman gonzo confetti hat to march about three miles in the inaugural Gaffney SC Peach Festival parade. My folks and my sister had left town for Knoxville, Tn about two weeks earlier after 16 and a half years in Gaffney. Most of it was sublime and chocked full of goodwill, but there were episodes of tension as it was years of race transition and my father took a moderate to progressive stand on matters in Bethany Baptist church.

    The last three years were interesting to say the least and I came home from Furman and wrote some letters to the paper.

   At one point I got a look, a "strong" glare from a former President of the American Textile Manufacturers Inst that I'm convinced had something to do with one of my opeds.

     On another occasion  I considered hookin up with Frawg Night to do a little justice work but that was far from ever being an actuality though there was one phone conversation where a former school board member said he would stand on my toes and beat my ass into the ground. He coulda done it. That's why I considered callin The Night.

   Later in 1994 or so with the national PBS Broadcast of the Uprisin of 34 about the Textile Strikes I was in someways ratified with my suspicions of unspoken episodes in Gaffney's history. I was on national television a couple weeks after the broadcast with a response, my take on the educational history of the documentary.

   In the parade our small ad hoc band Played Get It On and I excelled on the trombone part. One revenant was reported to have said the parade was kinda borin except for Strom Thurmond on his horse, Star Trek's William Shatner as Grand Marshall, and some Mother ffn idiot in his tux and his shorts with his loud ass trombone.

    I saw my friends the Mehra family not far into the parade going towards town from the Ledger Building near the Interstate. Mrs. Mehra got a big laugh. Rajesh was a little embarrassed for me.  And the first Black Homecoming Queen, Belinda Gibbs was on the sidewalk with her baby. She said "Fox, you Crazy."   Somebody took a picture at the top of the Overpass, I think Patsy Thompson from my Dad's church, but I cant find the picture now. I remember lookin at top of Community Cash  for assassins on Limestone Street after we came off the railroad bridge and turned left at the Piedmont Federal. Furman friend Paul Zion was getting a good laugh at me with his wife Cathy as we turned the corner.

    Assassination was not likely but I did have that thought.

     Some members of my immediate and extended family took the position I coulda left things better unsaid. They have a point but the Uprisin of 34 Doc of early 90s has me thinking I mighta had more just cause than I realized at the time.

    Gaffney took a piece of my
Dad's heart. On the Monday he left town with Momma and my sister, he cried the entire route on Frederick Drive through several traffic lights five miles across town and was still gathering himself as he approached the cemetery on hwy 11 not far out of Cowpens.


    All that and Marshall Frady's piece on Warren Fortson in Americus in the 60s came to mind as Saturday between US Open Tennis and the LSU/Wisconsin Game I became entrenched in booktv piece from the Mississippi Book Festival.

    Patricia Boyett on Saint Vernon Dahmer almost brought me to tears, but it was the story of the Heffners Left McComb County that got me thinking about Gaffney. The Fox story was much milder than what the Heffners faced, but 14 years after their ordeal in the crucible of Mississippi things were still playing out with our family.

    Like the panel eloquence Saturday, things were complicated and even the "bad" people had redeeming qualities, though Will Campbell gave Sam Bowers more benefit of the doubt than I am capable. With that I'm kinda like Judge Frank Johnson on Tommy Tarrants who bombed his Mother's house in Montgomery, I will have to let God be the Judge.

    But for anybody who may want to explore the nuances one more time, the Heffners and McComb is a great book and it is a tribute to the Historical Association of Mississippi for reprinting the book.

    There is a story in the Fox family ordeal in Gaffney, especially if you take the narrative back to the bombing on College Drive in 56, six years before we got there, worthy of Oxford American magazine.

    Whether I am capable of telling that story and whether the misunderstandings of it well told certain to come reviving those episodes of 40 years ago are worth it, is what remains.

    Here is a link to the discussion of August 8 or so, that was on TV last Saturday.

      https://www.c-span.org/video/?414028-6/panel-discussion-civil-rights

   

    

2 Comments:

Blogger Diane Broome Masters said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:38 PM  
Blogger Diane Broome Masters said...

Stephen,
Thank you for allowing me to read your blog. You have a wonderful knack for the written word that is definitely Southern in tone and progressive in outlook. (I wish I could have seen you in tux, white shorts, and Furman gonzo confetti hat, playing your trombone.)
I pulled up some of your Letters to the Editor on newspaper.com. I've lived in Gaffney all my life and I'm well acquainted with the general perspective. Forget assassination; you're mighty lucky you weren't tarred, feathered, and run out of town on a rail.
Diane

6:46 PM  

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