Saturday, November 29, 2014

LOCKED UP FOR THE RIGHT REASON

This is the 5th of 19 things I've done with my "thrown away" life--that you might find hard to believe.
It was 1962 and I was drafted into the army and told to report to the induction station in Shreveport, La.  En route there on the bus I sat beside another draftee--a black-- named Sam.  When we got off the bus I invited him to coffee with me in the restaurant there.  I remember him being hesitant but I assured him it would be ok.  I really thought it would be--I had been living in Washington, DC and considered segregation over with.  We had just got seated when a policeman confronted Sam---said you will have to go to the colored side.  I said "No" and put out my arm to block Sam's exit.  The cop immediately put cuffs on me and led me out the back door.  Sam was allowed to leave.  A paddy wagon arrived and they put me in.

The ride to the station is one I won't forget.  They tried to injure me with sharp turns and jamming on the breaks.  (So yes I know---some cops have a vicious streak) I managed to hold tight and was not hurt.

When we arrived, I was jailed briefly then taken before some authority and questioned. He wanted to know why I broke the law.  In perhaps the bravest moment of my life--I told him the law was unjust and that he and the whole system "were on the wrong side of history".  When he learned that I was from East Carroll Parish--he seemed surprised--and doubtful.  Asked me who the sheriff was.  I told him "Red Gilbert".  He said "Boy--what the hell is wrong with you?"

When he learned that I was being inducted into the army--he assigned two officers to escort me there.  To this day I laugh when I remember my GRAND ENTRANCE into that room when about a hundred pairs of eyes watched me enter with a policeman on each arm.  They marched me to the authorities and explained---said they were not pressing charges in light of my induction.

Sam and I were in boot camp together in Ft. Jackson, South Carolina.  He must have told the blacks in our unit about the incident---because they were all very nice to me.

My moral courage has not been unfailingly high.  On many occasions, I have had to be rescued by my friends from sheer cowardice.  My wish to be liked has often trumped my moral insight.  That and my lust have most often led me astray.

BUT I HAVE THIS MOMENT TO REMEMBER (20 JUNE 1962) WHEN I STOOD TALL. I trust that the police blotter for that date will bear witness as an "incident report."

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  I suspect that you have had your moment--or moments also---and when next you "get down on yourself"---relive it in your mind and enjoy a brief spasm of self esteem.

8 comments:

Dragonfly said...

What a way to make an entrance, I can just imagine what a bad a** everyone thought you were.

Sondra said...

...the south is still "segregated" in many ways...living in a small town you get to know where you are welcome and where you are not...it runs in both directions, I think it creates balance and harmony then so be it, its a choice, apparently, and if it works to keep tensions in check then its a good thing. BUT no one is escorted out if they cross the line, maybe get giggled at for sure!

Anonymous said...

Nowadays, when young people have a similar run-in with police the record of the event get forever stored in a law enforcement database. So, whenever a cop comes by and runs their plate the first thing they see is that record. Gives cops an edge on how they deal with them later in life.

Ronnie Ryan said...

That is heart Randy !!! Civil HEART!!! One of these days... ignorance will lie no more.

Mitchell said...

Geez, I love your stories.


Oh, and I saw the documentary the other day. Well done!

Now I know how you get people to tell you their story. Well, I don't know if it's your accent or demeanor or evangelist background or the way you must make people feel at ease or what it is but I now understand it.

Anonymous said...

It's called charisma.

Anonymous said...

Man, Randy,

This was just a few days before my birth (July 10th, 1962).

Found you and your website just some days ago through a video linked from Bob (Wells), man, what I read from you until now is just right out of my own heart and spirit.

I`m a “German Roman” (born in Rome/Italy), former translator/conference interpreter, stopped working at age 40 for reasons everybody can read on your website.

We have a daughter and as soon as she will be independent, you’ll have a new c(k)odger right there...

Ciao and be well

Claudio (Del Luongo, you can google me and it will show how much I love your country, an (most of) its people ;-))

Anonymous said...

But, man, I'm my own king...

I will not be ruled by anybody and i'll not rule over anybody....

;-)

Ciao

Claudio