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"The Nurturing": article draft by Roosevelt Fitzgerald




1980 (year approximate) to 1995 (year approximate)


From the Roosevelt Fitzgerald Professional Papers (MS-01082) -- Drafts for the Las Vegas Sentinel Voice file. Thoughts on hunting season, the World Series, and football.

Digital ID



man001020. Roosevelt Fitzgerald Professional Papers, 1890-1996. MS-01082. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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Digitized materials: physical originals can be viewed in Special Collections and Archives reading room

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OCR transcription





It always happened like clockwork and it still does. No sooner than the crops would be in the rains would come. Of course, I'm talking about down home in the southeast in places like Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas, Florida and Mississippi to name a few. If you've never been in a heavily wooded area during a Fall of the year rain then there is at least one symphonic sound you've not heard. The ears of country people can almost discern the sounds of each individual raindrop. Because it is impossible to gaze skyward without blinking so profusely as to appear to have one's eyes permanently closed it is all but out of the question to watch the voyage of raindrops as they start at the uppermost branches and trickle, from leaf to leaf, each with its own sound even on the same leaves, as they make their way to the ground.
Before anyone gets excited, I know it rains elsewhere and that there are all the other ingredients that I mentioned for my part of the country but you want to remember that I'm writing about my part of the country. If you want something on Ohio, well, I guess you'll just have to write it yourself.
Let me see, where was I? Oh, I remember. The aroma of the entire area is altered as the rainy season sets in. The effects of rain on tree bark, decaying leaves, soil, clay, grass and downed, rotting trees creates a muskiness which is totally at odds with the aromatic fragrances of spring and summerW
Hunting season, the World Series and football all collided but it was not until after 1948 that my family took any interest whatever in major league baseball and then only because of the arrival of Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers. Football was much the same. We didn't know
anyone who attended college and played football and the NFL could have easily meant the "Never Found Location" as far as we were concerned. We did, however, know of the existence of that game. Once a year, traveling alternately north and south, the teams and fans of the University of Mississippi and LSU would travel through our town on Highway 61 on their way to their Saturday afternoon encounter on the gridiron.
Back in those days we were not allowed to attend those school or play on their teams. The same was true of all those schools in that region of our great country: Alabama, Georgia Tech, Texas, Tulane, Florida State, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Auburn, Duke, Virginia and all the rest. Nowadays, on a Saturday afternoon or evening or in some post season bowl game, when I watch teams from those schools with all of those black athletes bringing whatever glory to those institutions which once chased us, shot at us and still wave rebel flags--not with the same intent of rebel flags we often see individuals waving at our own Rebel athletic events but rebel flags waved in honor of the confederate states of America and what it stood for—on top of administration buildings and stadiums and arenas, I realize what at least one of the things others have that we do not; hatred. I don't know if it is out of hatred that true committment to a cause comes or not but I don't think we have it.
But, before I forget, many times those going back and forth would make a wrong turn as they drove through town and need help in finding their way. The highway came right through a heavily black populated section of town; St. Catherine Street. My family lived in a house in an alleyway off that street and I spent a lot of time on that street--playing, going back and forth to my aunt's, to school, to the all black Ace theater, up the hill to Brumfield school's playground or on out to the end. Sometimes a car would pull over and a well dressed man with his wife and children all set for their
hopefully glorious football weekend, would call me over; "Hey boy, nigger, c'mere. Where's the road to Baton Rouge?" "Right where it always been suh." "I know that but just where is that?" "You mean you a grown man and don't know where that road is?" "Don't get smart with me boy." "Nosuh. I ain't smart but I knows where that road is. You go straight up to the next street light, turn right and keep on going." "Here's a nickle for you." "'Preciate it.'
No matter where I was, whenever anybody asked me directions and did it in the wrong way, they always got those directions. I still do it today. There are probably a lot of rude people lost and wandering through the Homochitto swamps or the Devil's Punchbown or some other scary place because they approached me in the wrong way, with the wrong words and in the wrong tone.
We did know something about hunting. From the time we were very young we would construct bows and arrows out of young saplings. We made our string by stripping the bark of certain trees, separating it with our fingernails and rolling it into a sort of sissel in the palms of our hands. People have done it that way for a million years or more. The points of our arrows were made by taking pop tops and, using small apple-sized rock, banging and shaping them around the ends of the straightest shafts we could find.
With those we would hunt birds and other small game. Mind you, I am only speaking of young boys between the ages of seven to thirteen or fourteen. We would have to stalk our prey and we learned to move through the woods quietly and, when necessary, stand as still as racial progress so as not to cause alarm.
To get a bird or two or a squirrel or rabbit in five or six or so hours might seem to some today or in other places as a monumental waste of time. There are probably others who think of it as cruelty to animals. They probably had and have checks coming in and their cruelty to animals is neutralized by cellophane wrapping in the meat department of their favorite market. In any
case, it was not a waste of time nor cruelty to animals. Not only did it provide food but it also provided opportunity for solitude, the development of patience, the strengthening of tenacity not to mention endurance and independence, the sharpening of sight, the honing of hearing, and the sensitizing of smell. I miss those days but I still have those attributes.
To be out othere in the woods with the knowledge that the roles could be switched so quickly and so easily; one moment the stalker and the next the stalked, served as a constant reminder that within all of the complexities of life there runs a thread of simplicity which says; no matter what, you'll either get used to it or you'll get over it.
I don't know where I'm going with this but there is more to come. Next week, however, I'll interupt it to address Nevada's birthday and get back to this the following week. Maybe I'll talk about slingshots or something.