Saturday, July 27, 2013

(from June 2012 facebook post)
My father, Ernest Brewington would close his grocery store at around 4 or 5 pm on Sundays, giving us all an evening to relax and watch The Ed Sullivan Show. As we grew older he would give out allowances on Sunday and a free ride downtown where we'd see a movie, go to the soda shop and catch the bus back home.

On one Fathers Day Sunday, after the movie and soda shop my brother and I went to Fayetteville Drug Store and picked out a Father's Day card and a really cheap bottle of after shave lotion to give to our father. As we were paying we saw that our bus was at the bus stop and we ran to catch it. As we rounded the corner of Phillips Loan & Pawn whichever of us that was carrying the after shave lotion dropped it and it broke it along with our young hearts.

We cried as we gave our Father his card and the remains of the cheap after shave lotion. He probably was near tears too as he hugged us really good and let us know that it was ok and that he loved us anyway. His love let us know that what was important to him was what we felt in our hearts. That's a Dad Lesson that is still valid..

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

From Facebook January 1, 2012

Most parents did some stupid stuff when they were young and too ashamed to admit it as they mature. We pray that our kids won't do the same things. Our worry somehow becomes our punishment for our youthful stupitity.

During my daughter's freshman or sophmore year of college she went sking for New Years. We typically talk every morning and evening. New Years Eve was no diff...erent. New Years Day was a different story.

Accurately assuming that she was up late the night before I dismissed not hearing from her in the am. When I didn't get a call in the afternoon I called her as early evening approached. I got no answer.

I called several times and it was now well into the evening and still no answer. Concern turns to worry.

Finally, She calls me. She had an extremely weak voice and she was sobbing. I panicked before she asked "Dad, how long does a hangover last?"

My instinct was to call an ambulance to rescue my baby and make her feel better right damned now but I didn what any good parent would do. I lied. I said "If you drink plenty of Gatorade and water it will only last four or five days."
October 2012
I hate to even think of just how long ago it was that I met my friend Ann Tosco. I had a beer and wine store on Gillespie St. This was in the mid to late 1970s. Ann saw my ad and called to place a beverage order for a picnic she was organizing for seasonal migrant workers. She was a joy to do business with and besides she made a pretty good sized purchase.

A year or so la...ter I went to see a play and one the actor's voices caught my attention. I knew that I'd heard it before but didn't know where. During intermission I read the program and discovered that it was the lady from the season migrant workers picnic.

Over the years I got to know her better as she became a regular in various restaurants that I managed. She brought her family to The Boss Hawg every Sunday.

Restaurant managers love to have fans and Ann seemed to be one of mine. She called on me to cater for different organizations that she was part of. I catered a luncheon for the Blind Readers Service many times thanks to my friend Ann.

But I was a fan of hers too. You would never forget this lady's voice. On stage she was great with drama or comedy. I can still hear her say "Norman, Is that you?" from the comedy of the same name.

I remember her in the comedy Bubba & Betty-Sue's Wedding she interrupted the wedding ceremony to go to the bathroom only to return with a long strand of toilet tissue hanging from her dress.

I'm telling you this lady was funny.

She always hugged my neck and kissed my cheek and called me darling with a New York accent that was still there although she had been here for quite some time.

I'm sure the Lord is ready for her but even he must be warned; Ann-Marie Tosco is going to have him laughing.

I really liked this woman. Hell, I loved this woman. Bless her soul, Lord. She was my friend.
Father's Day 2012
My father, Ernest Brewington would close his grocery store at around 4 or 5 pm on Sundays, giving us all an evening to relax and watch The Ed Sullivan Show. As we grew older he would give out allowances on Sunday and a free ride downtown where we'd see a movie, go to the soda shop and catch the bus back home.

On one Fathers Day Sunday, after the movie and soda shop my brother and I went to Fayett...eville Drug Store and picked out a Father's Day card and a really cheap bottle of after shave lotion to give to our father. As we were paying we saw that our bus was at the bus stop and we ran to catch it. As we rounded the corner of Phillips Loan & Pawn whichever of us that was carrying the after shave lotion dropped it and it broke it along with our young hearts.

We cried as we gave our Father his card and the remains of the cheap after shave lotion. He probably was near tears too as he hugged us really good and let us know that it was ok and that he loved us anyway. His love let us know that what was important to him was what we felt in our hearts. That's a Dad Lesson that is still valid..

Sunday, June 23, 2013

But It's Your Ghetto That's The Problem

There are but a few of us who don't typically think that we are right. As the saying goes "I don't make mistakes. I thought I made a mistake once but I was mistaken."

If we pay attention to ourselves and others we will find that we are very often guilty of the same behavior that we despise in others. Sometimes our hypocrisy or our stupidity derails good intentions. We love freedom but we want everyone to behave, believe, worship, talk and look just like ourselves.

I remember one summer as a young teenager a group of us went to watch the activities in district court. We weren't on trial or anything, it was summertime, we had time on our hands and the entertainment there was free. The courtroom was above the old City Hall and Police Department where Fascinate You and Gilbert Theater are today. I think I know the judge's name but I'm not certain so I won't say it. As wrong as that judge turned out to be, he taught me a hell of a lot on that Monday morning.

There were two young men on trial for something that I do not recall. For all I know they may have been guilty as hell. I am absolutely certain the judge was guilty of prejudice and it is my opinion that he was a piece of shit (see, I told you I was ghetto). 
The judge would not hear the case until the men had a haircut because their hair was hanging well past their shoulders. To make matters worse he specifically instructed the bailiff to carry the men to Maxwell Street Barber Shop.

After lunch the bailiff got chewed out because he carried the men to Market Square Barber Shop instead. Even as a young teenager I could tell that the judge obviously sent them to his barber and he went by on his lunch hour so they could laugh about him making those two long haired hippies get their hair cut.

I remember thinking "what gives that son of a bitch the right to humiliate people? And what gives him the right to decide how someone looks? Where is Blind Justice?" I thought "what if they are found innocent of the charges, do they get their hair back?"

Yes, that slimy bastard that called himself a judge changed me forever. I learned that I may be judged unfairly, simply because of the way I look so I'd best look neat, clean and stylish at all time. I also learned that no matter how neat, clean and stylish my peers and I thought I looked there will be many that don't like my appearance. I already knew that I would be bald someday but I learned that no way in hell would I ever have a wrap-a-round hairdo disguise like that arrogant ass of a judge.

Throughout history each generation has brought fashion and behavior that previous generations hated. I remember when the Beatles came to the U.S. People were so freaked out they thought the world was coming to an end. They had really long hair. It was so long it must have come all the to the top of their ears. They wore charcoal grey suits with black ties. What was the world coming to?

Just before the Beatles was Elvis with his tight pants. There was the duck tail hairdo. The two piece ladies swimsuit came out somewhere about that time only to be followed by the bikini. 

In colonial days men wore wigs and waxed their faces. They had poor hygiene and wooden teeth. 

There was a period when men wore knickers with hose and solid wooden shoes. At one time only saloon girls, dancers and whores would shave their armpits, legs and pubies.

In the 1970's we wore stack heel shoes with leisure suits in colors that were absolutely hideous. I remember shirts with collars as wide as airplane wings.The counter culture of the time wore denim jeans, dessert boots and a clean tee shirt as their on the town apparel.

Nowadays they are wearing baggy pants. So baggy in fact they would fall to the floor if the guy wearing them doesn't hold them up with his hand or walk funny. I've got pictures of myself wearing some of the ugliest clothes I've ever seen so I've worn some outrageous clothing but this current fashion is absolutely the stupidest that I've seen. So what? If a man chooses to handicap himself by requiring the use of his hands to keep his pants on, who am I to stop him? If I want to be stupid, let me (unless you're my financial planner, in which case, you're too late). I guarantee that due to my profession, I see far more baggy pants than most people. The baggy pants aren't vulgar. They typically come in two pieces; an undergarment that fits and an outer one that doesn't. You will see more butt crack when your plumber comes than you do with this outrageous fashion.

I don't like baggy pants so I don't wear them. I wear ties. Most people don't. We don't all have to look the same.

What about our language? It, just like our fashion, has constantly evolved. The British are appalled that we speak English the way that we do. And they'd really freak out if they heard the way we use the language in the south. The language has changed as we've integrated dialects of various cultures and adopted various slang as acceptable or proper communication. "Cool" was a temperature until the hippies started using it to describe things they like. "Hot" was a temperature as well. Now, it means sexy. A crib was a baby's bed, now it is a house.

I've said all that in response to a Fayetteville Observer story regarding a former councilman's email which was sent to the mayor, city manager and various council members. The email suggested that before the city proceeds with more parks and recreation it should fix some of the problems it currently has. To show which problems he was speaking of he had lots of derogatory racial comments and photos that were out of line. 

When questioned by the Fayetteville Observer, the former councilman, community leader and military activist defended his intentions and his offensive comments. He obviously used a lot of profanity in his discussion with the Observer since there were numerous "(expletive)" insertions in his quotes. He talked about how they are wearing baggy pants and they don't even speak English. When did "(expletive)" become proper English? Wouldn't it be appropriate that before he tells others how to speak English he should speak it properly himself.

What does he expect city council to do about current fashion or language slang? Pass a law? How could a man who fought bravely and honorably for our freedoms suggest such a thing? Perhaps he'd like to have government issued clothing to every citizen. Everyone wear the same color and a same style. Everyone would look just like our former councilman. Besides, we already have laws that forbid apparel that exposes one's genitalia.

I like a Westpoint hem in my slacks, should that be required of everyone? To require appearance standards based on what one likes or doesn't like would be dictatorship.

I share some of the same concerns that the former councilman has. We have a tremendous amount of social ills in the United States. He has earned much respect for his military and community service. He should well know that while his derogatory and bigoted approach may make good barber shop talk, it is absolutely counterproductive. It in fact shows that he is indeed part of the social ill.

If the former councilman has any good intentions, he will rethink his comments and apologize sincerely. I don't think that he will because he has likely gotten lots of attaboys at the barbershop and breakfast club. Ego will exceed sincerity.

George Carlin, when telling things you can't do on television, said. "You can prick your finger but you can't finger your prick."  Well, I'd like to give that prick the finger.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Today, forty-three years ago I was planning to get my driver license. It was Tuesday night and I couldn't wait until Thursday. It's an excitement that most of us experience. The privilege to drive makes us feel grown-up.

On Wednesday those plans were put on hold indefinitely and to this day, I have absolutely no memory of my drivers test or getting my license.

We always caught one school bus to go to school and another to return because we went to work at my parents grocery store after school.

April 9, 1970. We got off the bus and walked a block to the store. We typically walked but on this day it was far from usual. Vehicles lined both sides of the busy highway that my parents store was on. We could see that the parking lot was full of vehicles as well. As we approached, people that I don't know began to shield my twin brother and me from the horror that existed there.

I'm not even sure who told me nor how I was told that both of my parents had been shot and that my father was definitely dead and that my mother may be dead also. I do remember weeping and pounding a metal Wonder Bread sign with my fists.

A man whose name I don't remember (if I ever knew it) came to me and my brother and asked if he could take us home. On the way up Wilkes Rd we stopped a school bus which our younger brother and sister were on. They were frightened and confused. No matter how grown up our coming birthday made us feel, we were kids so I'm sure that the way we told our younger siblings (Cathy and Ricky) wasn't delivered appropriately.

The man who took us home wore glasses. As he drove to the front of our house he removed them as he took a handkerchief from his pocket. He cried as he told us that he was my father's friend and that he loved him and my mother. In my grief and confusion, I don't know if I ever saw that man again and certainly never thanked him for his sincere kindness.

This was an incredibly horrifying day for us. To add to the horror, we learned that it was our grandfather who had shot my father in the back and killed him. Then attempted to kill my mother by shooting her. He shot at my cousin, Betty Brewington as she appealed to him to stop. He then walked home, leaving his car in front of my parents store. He was arrested a short while later.

The following hours are a bit of a blur with some memories of my brother and I going to Jodi and Lisa Hiltner's house then talking to my mother as she asked us to be strong. I remember sitting in my parents big Buick listening to Loretta Lynn singing "Why Did God Take My Daddy". Mostly, I remember being confused. Really, really confused.

I think that I saw my grandfather only twice after that. Once from a distance in court and once prior to that at Dorthia Dix Hospital where he was placed for mental evaluation prior to his trial. My siblings and I went there to visit him although I am not sure why we did. I remember very well him peering through the security glass in the door before he entered the room. He was clearly troubled. He quickly learned that the visit wasn't an expression of love when my sisters rattled him with the question "Why?" He kept repeating to himself "Oh me. Oh my." He then turned to me in perhaps a solicitation of friendship or understanding. "Boy, do you want to shake your grand-daddy's hand?" I remained silent as I looked away, refusing to shake his hand.

As years went by I remember trying to hate my grandfather, Paul Brewington. Hate should have came easy since he murdered my father and attempted to murder my mother and since we were really never close to begin with.

As I've matured I've realized that while I didn't love Paul Brewington, I didn't hate him either. I just kind of divorced myself from him. I've never actually forgiven him for what he did but my ability to not harbor hatred gave me a freedom that has probably served me well over time.

I was at work when I learned that Paul Brewington had died in prison. I didn't feel any sorrow. I am pleased that I didn't feel any glee. It was sort of like reading the obituary of someone I didn't know. These probably weren't the emotions that would please God but it's the best that I could offer.

Why would a man murder his own son? How could a man murder his own son? One day, he seemed like anyone else. He owned property. He was a landlord to a lot of the people living in the community. Sometimes a bit onery but certainly not one we'd typically expect to go on a shooting spree.

I hope that sometime before I stand before God that I will be able to forgive Paul Brewington, not just for what he did to my parents but for what he did to my siblings and me, for what he did to my Grandmother, my aunts, uncles, cousins and to the man who gave my brother and me a ride home that April 9th. I hope to be able to forgive him for what he did to himself as well. I'm certain that his soul yearns for my forgiveness as he paces in pergatory chanting "Oh me. Oh my." I pray that I will be strong enough to set it free.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

He inspired us as a nation and a world but we were the ones that changed the world 
I've heard so many criticisms of the Martin Luther King Holiday. "It's a black holiday." "They've got their own holiday." You've heard them and you may have been one who has criticized the holiday.
St Patrick's Day is evidence that we don't mind celebrating culture and ethnicity even when it may be a culture or ethnic group that we aren't part of. But if you think the King Holiday is all about ethnicity you are dead wrong. The movement which led to this celebration was prompted by racial injustice but where it has led us to is far beyond race. It certainly has much to do with culture. The culture in which we participate is far better today than it once was.
I am certain that every one of us has benefited from the consequences of Martin Luther King's efforts. There are many things that may not have happened if not for passage of the Civil Rights Bill. At least some of my own benefits were rooted from racial injustice. I will tell you about it now.
When I was four or five years old my older brother would catch a school bus well before daylight. The school bus was an orange panel truck (prelude to suv). It was very early but he had a ways to go to get to school. You see, there was no high school in Cumberland County for Native Americans so he went to school at the Eastern Carolina Indian School deep into Sampson County.
Before going there he went to Cade Hill School for Indians. Cade Hill was a one room wooden structure on a rutted dirt road near the Cape Fear River. It had a wood stove for heat, an out-house for restroom and an outside well. I went past there just a few weeks ago to show it to my daughter but it had been torn down. Some of the brick that the structure rested on are all that remain.
I've heard my brother, older sisters and cousins laugh about when they would go to the movies. They would all put their hands together to determine whose skin was the lightest. The fairest pigmented person would be responsible for buying the movie tickets to prevent being told they were unwelcome in the main lobby or main auditorium. Otherwise they would have to sit in the balcony. All African-Americans were required to sit in the balcony but as Indians, it was difficult to determine where you fit in society. The place you felt welcome one day may have felt entirely different the next day.
As I came along things were changing fast, much of it due to Martin Luther King, Jr's movement. Laws had changed but attitudes remained stubborn. I had no problem getting into the theatre's main auditorium but my twin brother and I were watched closely when we would go the theatre alone, even being reprimanded once when we got excited when the Indians in the westen movie won a battle.
There were several tobacco markets near our house and in the suummer when tobbaco would come to market we would get excited because it created a lot of activity in an otherwise boring neighborhood. Trucks would line up for blocks to carry their tobacco into the market. That freshly roasted tobacco smelled mighty good inside those big hot tin buildings.
Some of us kids went there one day with a mission to see if we could get into the restrooms labeled "White Only". There was one right next to it labeled "Colored". We would get very close when the old sleeping guy with a tobbaco stick would hit the tin wall with the stick and we'd run like hell. He was having fun just like we were. We did get into the "White Only" restroom eventually only to realize there was no difference. It smelled the same. Piss on the floor, Poop in the unflushed toilet. No soap. No hot water and no towels. I don't know what I was expecting. Something palatial I guess.
My brother and I went to  a party that we were invited to in Welmar near the Bordeaux community. The moment we stepped foot into the house, the parents told everyone there that they had to leave. You would have thought we had pee'd in the punch bowl or somthing. Other teenagers weren't happy that our presence crashed the party. That can make it difficult for a young teenager to make friends. It could destroy self esteem and kindle hatred. 
There was the time I went to a friend's house with him to retrive something from his room. Instead of following him through the house, I waited just inside the front door. His father was watching television. I spoke to him "How are you doing sir". He grumbled something that I couldn't understand so I asked "I beg your pardon" to which he clearly replied "There's the door nigger, now hit it" as he came towards me with his pocket knife. He didn't have to tell me twice (well, actually he did). I hit the door running like George Custer should have.
I went to the Peddler Steak House on the night of my High School gradutation with a pretty young lady that I was fond of. We were harrassed by people that were perhaps old enough to be our parents because they could tell that she was white and I wasn't. The lady at the front desk was in an awkward position as she attempted to get them to be nice. She also had to be careful not to offend them because the color of thier skin gave them a status that I couldn't possibly have. And as far as that young white girl with me, a tan skinned Indian, she must be some kind of whore or something.
Those were stinging occurances that I will not forget but because of the Civil Rights Bill and more importantly because of the ethics instilled by my parents I have enjoyed a life where my opportunities were as abnundant and anyone else's with the same education and character. You see, once people were required by law to treat all people equally they eventually learned that they were much happier themselves. They learned that that I was no different than they were. I have character flaws but so did they and in many ways my good character exceeded theirs.
I learned that much would be better if I didn't harbor ill feelings about what happened in the past. I knew that what I acchieved in life was up to me. And the girl from graduation night; her parents didn't feel good about that relationship either. They sent her to Florida to live with family. In time we married anyway with the family's blessings. Her family has become my family because we all judge each other for "who" we are characteristically not ethinically or financially. I love them back for the same reasons.
Yes, Martin Luther King, Jr's work changed things for me and it changed things for others that may have seen me differently decades ago.
Because of his work we all benefited. Credit can not be awarded nor denied based on zip codes. Womens rights won a huge victory with passage of civil rights. Equal opportunity and equal pay still have a ways to go but have improved light years. We are a very different America and world today.  
It will take a few generatins to repair the damage done by over two centuries of civil injustice but we have changed so much for the better in just a few decades. We've experienced set backs and will likely experience more but we have to reach down within ourselves to resist bigotry and injustice as we embrace equality and civility.

Emma Lazarus saluted the United States' diversity, equality and our compassionate embrace of those who have been persecuted when she wrote "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free". She would have celebrated Martin Luther King's mission.
Martin Luther King, Jr certainly inspired much change in the United States of America which consequently inspired much of the world but this year as we celebrate him, let's celebrate ourselves for the trials we've overcome and the metaphorical chains that we've broken.