With the earth freshly turned, I could finally take off my shoes and run , walk, skip, and jump bare footed though the warm earth. And I could be my joyful, happy playful child without a care in the world. Never mind the presence of all the Jim Crow signs and separate but unequal school that I attended.
In the Black Community where I grew up, in the small rural town called Saxe VA, Charlotte County, there were tobacco farmers, pulpwood and sawmill workers, preachers, and three Black grocery store owners. The wives and other women either worked cleaning and cooking for the white people or harvesting of tobacco for them.
A great majority of the women were, when I lived there ,from1950-1979,were called ”housewives” in spring, work life was all about cleaning, planting tobacco, vegetable, and flowers gardens. Springtime, awaken all the residents, both young and old of the community, and its intoxicating energy gifted them joy and blissful living.
Spring was artistically orchestrated by Mother Earth, with her yellow and white daffodils budding, then blossoming, with the pink or white flowers of the Dogwood and the purple morning glories on the field. I mostly enjoyed the smell of the dirt whether red or brown being plowed by my Uncle Thee, Mr. Haskins or our close neighbors, Mr. Brooks and Mr. Booker.
You could hear them make a funny sound with their teeth or using the black leather straps of the bridle to control the movement of mules. The plough, a farm tool for turning the soil had a wooden, iron or steel frame, with a blade attached to cut and loosen the soil. It was traditionally drawn by oxen and horses, but in our community, it was mules. My father owned two white mules, but some of the white farms plowed with their tractors.
With the earth freshly turned, I could finally take off my shoes and run , walk, skip, and jump bare footed though the warm earth. And I could be my joyful, happy playful child without a care in the world. Never mind the presence of all the Jim Crow signs and separate but unequal school that I attended. There was one activity coming that filled my inner child with jubilation. Excitement blossomed until sheer joy permeated my body and inner sphere. For it was time to wrap the May Pole!
East of Saxe, VA was Randolph VA, where Mr. Edward and Mrs. Nana Morton lived on a 55-acre farm. Both had trained at Thyne Institute, a Presbyterian school that offered educational courses to Black students in Chase City, Va., along with certificates to teach school.
Together, they were the most progressive members of the community. They advocated for education, exposure to the arts, trips and activities that allowed Negroes to enhance their lives and evolve in an era of White Systemic racism.
The Mortons attended Henry Presbyterian church, where they taught Sunday School and began a Club called the LingerNots. Young Blacks in this club were taken on trips to HBCU colleges, like VirginiaState, Peterburg VA and Saint Paulin Lawrenceville VA., to saturate their minds with dreams of becoming teachers.
At Galilee Elementary, the segregated two room brick schoolhouse I attended, Mrs. Nana Morton was the school principal. Every year she organized our May Day festival. It was a celebration of spring that involved the entire community. Lots of the local segregated schools attended the festival :Salem, Bacon District, and J. Murry Jefferies. Games included horseshoe pitching, potato sack racing, jump rope and best of all, wrapping of the May Pole.