Monday, January 16, 2006

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Today is Martin Luther King day.

Living near Atlanta, I just want to ramble about not Martin Luther King, but the going on, concerning his death, that I witnessed or experienced. First of all, I never met the man. But I admire him foe what he did, the non-violent force that turned this nation around and even changed a lot of people's frame of mind.

The night of his assignation Anna and I were in Atlanta at a bistro type place named The Bottom of the Barrel to hear Odetta, a back folk singer with a booming voice, sing. We were waiting and somebody came on the little stage and announced Odetta would not be singing because Martin Luther King had just be shot and killed in Memphis.

We left and drove back to Marietta. We drove through the downtown section and clumps of blacks were standing around. It looked scary. I was keeping an eye on the black groups and making a turn at the same time, in other words, not watching my driving, and I almost had a wreck, I almost ran into something, I forgot if it was a person or another car, or an object. I slammed on my breaks and made a squealing noise – when I slammed on the breaks Anna fell forward… that was before seat belts. By reflex, I held out my arm to keep her hitting he dash, which worked. But, it did make quiet a show among the group of blacks. Luckily no damage and no one was hurt. I sped away.

It reminded me of the time at night when I first started driving instead of waiting for the turning of a traffic light, I turned off my lights and drove through a church’s parking lot, while church was in progress. As I was silently and smoothly driving through the corner parking lot. I noticed a police car was sitting at the light, facing the opposite way, hopefully they hadn’t noticed me, and then for no reason, but maybe Divine intervention, my car horn starting blowing. I thought I had better turn on my car lights to appear I wasn’t trying to pull one over on them or anything. The horn stopped when I pulled out of the parking lot and the police maybe didn’t even notice me. Not that this had anything to do MLK.

Then, for some reason, the FBI figured a certain color Ford Mustang had something to do with the shooting and on TV a telephone number flashed for anyone to call if they see that Mustang. At the time I worked in the office of Sinclair Refining Company. The manager, Barry something, of the company-owned station at the corner of Peachtree and 14th Streets called me very nervous and told me the Mustang was there at that very moment. I told him to hang up and call the FBI. I was the last person to speak to Barry, he disappeared off the face of the Earth.

About a year later, Barry’s wife sold me his PV545 Volvo, he never again, as far as I know, has shown up.

During the funeral of Martin Luther King, Lester Maddox was Governor of Georgia. He made a complete fool of himself and Georgia, I think.

One rabble-rousing black militant said Atlanta was going to burn again. Because we worked at the base of three or four huge gasoline storage tanks we winced at that statement. Our boss told us we were going to have to stand guard at the tanks and each have a gun. I refused. I do not see putting my life on the line for the health and happiness of a large corporation. And others refused. Then they looked into hiring temporary guards, but kind of lost interest when they found out just complicated it could get putting up armed guards… all the bonding, paperwork, and all… like it is OK for us to put our lives on the line to save Sinclair a huge amount of stock, but when the boss had to do some complicated paper work and filing for different permits, then the work isn’t work it.

About a year later a friend from Chicago was visiting. We were in the Navy together. He, Anna, and I went to a Seals and Croft Concert (or is it Cross?) at the Art Center in Atlanta. Before the concert we went to the High Art Museum in the same complex. While appreciating the fine art I glanced over at a graceful black lady standing next to me. It was Coretta Scott King. She was so graceful and cool. I wanted to speak but did not know what to say. “Sorry about your husband”? “I think you have a graceful way about you”? So, not to spill the beans to show I had no dignity, I kept my mouth shut.

Years later I worked with Coretta’s niece Debby Scott, who is a very positive and seemingly happy lady.

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Blogger kenju said...

It is interesting to be so close to a part of history, isn't it? Too bad you didn't say something to Mrs. King; but then, I probably wouldn't have either.

4:47 PM  

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