They met in high school. He came up to her in the cafeteria and said, “Hi, I’m Roland. I’m on the football team. What’s your name?” She responded, “Alice”.
“Nice to meet you. Do you have a phone at home? Can I call you sometime?” Roland asked hoping the answers to all his questions were yes!
Alice thought Roland was handsome. She hoped he really would call.
The year was around 1950. Both Alice and Roland attended Central High School in Mobile, AL. Roland was one of the star running backs (or wide receivers – we are researching this). Everyone that attended Central High’s football games knew that if Roland got the ball, he was going to score a touchdown. He was always in the local newspaper for his many achievements with football and track. He was truly a star at Central High!
Alice was in the 11th grade when she met Roland. At the time in Mobile, you graduated high school after successfully completing 11th grade. After graduation, the White students could go on to teach school; however, the Negro students had to get a college degree to teach. This requirement back fired over time because all the Negro Teachers had college degrees and the White Teachers did not.
Alice graduated from high school, and in 1955, she graduated from Talladega College.
Roland dropped out of school to help support his mother. He served in the 224th Infantry Regiment K Company during the Korean Conflict from 1952 to 1954 (see photo below). Roland did not want Alice to forget about him so he wrote her almost daily. Imagine what war must have been like for a young Negro man in the 1950s. Soldiers dying all around you. Soon Roland had thoughts about whether he would live or die. One thing he was sure of was that he was going to marry Alice when he got out.
While in the Army, Roland sent money to his Mother Rose, as promised, to help with the bills. When Roland returned home, he found out that his Mother did not pay the bills, but used the money to bail her other sons out of jail. Roland was pissed!
Years later, Roland spoke about his time in Korea. In fact, he told us and anyone that would listen, he had a steel plate in his head from being shot during the war. I believed this story even after I worked for the U.S. Army as a civilian for many years. Then one day, it hit me. If my Dad got shot in the head during the Korean Conflict, he probably would have died. There was no sign of a steel plate. In fact, after my father passed away in 1996, I asked my Mother about my Dad’s head injury and she said, “When did Roland get shot in the head? This is the first I heard about this.”
I was shocked! How could my Mother, Roland’s wife, not know about this gunshot? “He did get shot, but I remember it being in the leg after he was discharged from the Army!” my Mother said laughing with surprise. My Mother and I inquired with other family members. They were all surprised Roland was not shot in the head. The only person who did not know was Alice!
History of Korean Conflict: For more information, check out this site http://www.veteranmuseum.org/war-history/korean-conflict
Between The Dashes