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FREEDOMWAYS                             SECOND QUARTER 1973

  Rondall looked into the old storekeeper's serious dark eyes once again, still puzzled.

  "What they teach you in them schools, boy? Well, I guess I'm gonna have to tell you about him. How ol' are you, boy?"

  Rondall told him that he had just turned eight last week.
"All right, I'm gonna tell you a story 'bout this man when he was your same age. You ready?"

  Rondall breathed in, sat back against the cracked wall and waited. 

  "Well, this man lived a long time ago," Mr. Merriwether began. "So long ago that when he was young, he was a slave. You know 'bout slaves don't you? Well, when he was just your age he was sent from a big ol' plantation to the city. There he saw children learnin' to read. This learnin; helped him to know many, many things 'bout being a slave. Now you listen close because I'm gonna tell you his name. You ready? Fredrick Douglas, that's his name."

  With that, Mr. Merriwether's head dropped and he said no more. All the time Mr. Merriwether was talking, Rondall had been studying the picture. Now he looked up from the picture to Mr. Merriwether and down at the picture again. He thought that this man Fredrick Douglass looked a bit like Mr. Merriwether.

  It was getting late. The only sound was the popping of the flames against the air. Mr. Merriweather looked at Rondall and said, "Tell you what. You say that you was eight last week. Boy, take this picture as a present from me. My father gave it to me and his father gave it to him. Now it's time to pass it on." Rondall looked into the old man's face. He didn't know what to do. He wanted the picture; but he felt how much this picture of Frederick Douglass meant to Mr. Merriweather and he wanted the old man to keep the picture. He also knew that he had hurt Mr. Merriweather when he had refused to come into the store. He didn't want to take any chances of hurting him again. Rondall reached out and took the picture. He got up and touched the old man's folded hands as his way of thanking him. Then tucking the box carefully under his arm, he turned and walked out of the store.

  Rondall smile because the music was playing again. There in the darkness, he stood looking down at the rocker. "Thank you, chair, for helping me to meet two great men." With a proud feeling inside, he turned and started home toward the Kingsway Projects.


Transcription Notes:
---------- Reopened for Editing 2024-02-21 08:23:38 ---------- Reopened for Editing 2024-02-21 12:53:58 one Space provided between the paragraphs