9 Feb 2016 – First Cousins On My Father’s Side Of The Family

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The picture above includes my first cousins – Rose (on the left) and Diane (on the right) – and my Uncle Charlie (in the middle).  Even though we are first cousins, I haven’t seen them since we were kids…with one exception.  That one exception was when my father died in 1996 at 64 yrs old.  Diane, Rose, and my uncles attended the funeral.  At that time, my parents were divorced so my father’s new wife handled all the arrangements.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but the lines of communication between my father’s side of the family and his children ended when my parents divorced.

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2 Sep 2015 – Davis Avenue

During the 1950s, my grandparents owned a night club for about a year on Davis Avenue.  By the 1960s, Davis Avenue was the hub for Negroes in Mobile.  There were grocery stores, night clubs, doctors, lawyers, barbers, hair salons…everything needed to support the community.

I couldn’t find a good picture of Davis Ave.  My mother told me that she never went on that side of town because the neighborhood had gotten really rough – people fighting, gun shots, stealing, etc.  I imagine it must have looked like this:

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31 Aug 2015 – Love Can Conquer All!

We celebrated my Mom’s birthday on 29 Aug 2015.  It was one of the most emotional, precious and memorable experiences I have ever had in my entire life!  Our family is truly blessed!  We all met in Tampa, FL 27-30 Aug 2015, stayed at a hotel in Ybor, the historic district of Tampa, and celebrated my Mom’s birthday on Saturday night.

Our plans for the weekend were to enjoy our family, reconnect, reminisce and celebrate Alice’s birthday.  We had five generations represented in person, and with our stories, we had up to eight generations!  It was truly amazing!  We had a nice turnout, from our newest member that is 11 weeks old (Andrea Jenea or AJ) to our oldest member, Inell who is 82 years old!  We used to have family reunions every other year, but with all the competing priorities in our lives, we stopped having them years ago.  In the past, when we got together, we were the kids in my generation, and now most of us are the grandparents!

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21 Aug 2015 – I Couldn’t Wait To Have A Job

This event takes place in Mobile, AL around 1948.  Alice (my mother) was 13 years old, and Eva Jasper (my grandmother – Mom’s side) was 51 years old.  Eva worked for a white family as a house keeper.  During this time, Jim Crow laws were still in effect and the civil rights movement was not officially active (check out the history section at the end of this post).  In Mobile, Negroes worked low paying jobs, and one of the primary sources of income for Negro women was cleaning the house and keeping the children of white people.

On this day, Alice went to visit her grandmother.  However, this day was different because when she arrived at Eva’s house, she had a bandana tied around her head.  Alice asked, “Momma Eva, what’s wrong?”

Eva responded with her head hung low, “I’ve got a real bad headache.  This bandana will help it go away.  Only problem is I have to go to work today.”  Without hesitation, Alice said, “What if I go for you today?  I don’t mind!”

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18 Aug 2015 – Introducing My Father’s Side of the Family

My father’s side of the family was very colorful – to say the least!  There was always excitement, but not the kind that my mother’s side of the family appreciated.   🙂

I remember all of my uncles very well.  In fact, along with my father, they were the ones that created all the excitement!  More on that later.  Let me tell you about them.

My grandmother, Rosie Lee Kennedy, was born in 1912 to Winslow Kennedy (age 28) and Onnie Kennedy (age 33 – still researching maiden name) in Marengo County, AL.  Rosie was a single parent with four boys – Cecil was born on 26 Jun 1931, Roland on 25 May 1932 (my father), Roosevelt on 3 Sep 1934, and Tonzie (we called him Charlie) on 18 Aug 1935.  In the 1930 census, Rosie and her children lived with Winslow and Onnie; however, by the 1940 census, all four sons were living with their grandparents, but Rosie was not.  I have not found Rosie in the 1940 census yet.

In the 1950s when my father was in high school, Rosie asked Roland to join the Army to help pay for bills.  As you know, the money my father sent to his mother was used to get his brothers out of jail on various occasions.  Rosie probably asked this of my father because her oldest son Cecil was always in trouble and not so dependable.

I was six years old when my family moved to Chicago.  Every summer we visited Rosie.  She was an excellent cook!  I remember eating the best homemade biscuits, fried corn, fried okra with tomatoes, collard greens, cakes, etc.  All the vegetables were fresh, not frozen.  Unfortunately, I have no recipes, and neither does my mother.  So sad.

The chicken and other meats were fresh as well.  One visit, we went to my grandfather Tonzie’s house for dinner.  At this time, Rosie and Tonzie were divorced (or separated).  There was a big meal prepared for us to include fried chicken.

The chicken that was on the table, started out his day running on the farm.  Someone grabbed it, rung his neck, plucked the feathers, and fried him up.  Fresh, fried chicken looks good but tastes nothing like what we are used to today.  That evening, I could not eat my chicken – it was just too fresh!

On one occasion while visiting Rosie, the brothers were out having fun.  When they returned, Charlie got out of the car, and slammed the door too hard.  It was Roland’s car, so he started screaming at Charlie who pulled out a knife and threatened to cut Roland.  Roosevelt joined the fight by threatening to shoot one of them with his gun, and Cecil was too drunk to care.  Needless to say, all four brothers were drunk!  Rosie, Onnie, my sisters and I were inside the house, peeking out the front room window.  The adrenalin was racing through my body because if shots were fired, I was afraid they might find us.  I was scared to look, but very interested in the excitement.

A variation of this scene was repeated every summer we visited!  Regardless of their actions, I loved each one of them!  The excitement left me with stories to tell my friends about how I survived my summer vacation!

A picture of Rosie is located below.  She is seated on the sofa (next to the lamp) near my sister Andrea.  My brother Roland is also in the picture.

 

Picture taken September 1976. Front to back/left to right - Roland, Anrea and Rosie Kennedy.

Picture taken September 1976.  Front to back/left to right – Roland, Andrea and Rosie Kennedy.

 

Between The Dashes

10 Aug 2015 – The Ditch

The kids always made fun of Alice, my Mother, when she was younger, around 12 years old.  No matter how much Alice tried to be nice and friendly, it didn’t matter.  She was not part of the pack.

One day Alice was walking home from school with her best friend and cousin, Yanetta.   They walked past the homes they normally did each day.  But today was different.  Today there were a group of the girls from school following behind them.  Alice wondered what they wanted.  Perhaps they wanted to be friends, Alice hoped.

The girls finally called Alice who turned to greet them.  The girls were laughing and looking mischievous.  They seemed to be making fun of her.

One of the girls came up to Alice and pushed her.  Alice was hesitant to do anything until the girl pushed her in the ditch with a dead dog!

Alice became angry.  So angry she found the courage to fight back.  The dog must have been there for days because of the odor,  flies and maggots swarming around and on it!  Alice came out of the ditch swinging her fists with accuracy!

The girl who initiated the fight had a bloody nose making the other girls have second thoughts about approaching Alice.  Th girls grabbed their friend and ran in the opposite direction!  They were actually afraid of Alice!

From that day on, Alice and Yanetta looked for fights!  They became the bullies in the neighborhood with their new-found courage!


Between The Dashes

7 Aug 2015 – Introducing The Grandparents

Inell&Melzar Williams

Inell and Melzar Williams

When you start your family tree, start with yourself and gradually move through your tree by adding parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Capture what you know, then search the data bases on Ancestry (ancestry.com) or other genealogy sites for more information.  If you have the ability to visit your home town, you should visit the local library, churches attended by your family, and seek out living members to fill in the blanks.

Between the Dashes was created because I desired more than just the birth and death dates.   When you search the genealogical databases you find lots of information.  One of the challenges is filling in the stories between the dashes.  Who were they?  What were their hobbies?  What did they love to do?  What were some of their challenges?  Between the Dashes will focus on answering some of those questions about my family.  Let’s start with my grandparents.  

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7 Aug 2015 – Introducing The Parents

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Alice and Roland Davis – Sometime After 1957

 

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! Continue reading