Big Daddy Virgil
Carter never met his Dad. Grandma Callie taught Big Daddy all about math, spelling, geography and science.
He was smart beyond his years.
Head smart and handsome.
Like a tall glass of water.
That Clark Gable,
Johnny Hartman kind of handsome.
6 ft. 4 inches tall,
light skinned with shiny straight hair,
he used a pomade to help it lay flat.
Mulatto was how some would describe him.
That’s what they called a person of mixed white and black ancestry, especially a person with one white and one black parent.
A private man,
with a pipe,
He took great care of her when he was able.
Wherever he lived she had a home.
A two-story brick house was always his choice.
Big Daddy brought Callie with him after he settled in St. Louis.
I thought that was neat.
Big Daddy was always tinkering either with the coal furnace in the basement or in some dedicated space wherever we lived
with his electronics books and his television and radio tubes.
He was always repairing something.
He could be working with his soldering iron and lathe in the basement putting metal things back together.
The most brilliant man I’d ever know.
He knew all about money.
How to earn it,
grow it and keep it.
Daddy was tight with his money, too.
Made him seem even mean to most.
But I respected that about my Big Daddy.
Even when Jerry and Sweetie Pie asked…
no, begged for enough to get a truck.
Yeah, he had it.
Eventually, Daddy loaned them the money for that red truck.
I’m not sure if they ever got it back to him, though.
He’d only bring it up at the worst of times.
Like if they needed another loan.
That’s when they really needed Mama’s help.
Daddy was stern, tight and generous.
Illinois Central Railroad until he got the gold watch.
Respected by the union, too.
A porter, and
first black union representative,
it must of been something to see him at a union meeting.
Not just his looks,
but his tone.
An articulated and educated man was the best way to describe him.
He knew what he wanted.
And he knew how to plan,
and keep it, too.
Their love was deeply romantic.
Called her M. A.…. get it!
She didn’t have book smarts.
She couldn’t really read.
She had qualities that softened Daddy’s stern ways right quick.
He didn’t have a chance if she was not happy with him.
“Carter this.” “Carter that.” “You know better, Carter!”
Big Daddy loved Emma.
Jeri Brown, 2016