Observations of life by author and poet Charles L. Chatmon
Break out the champagne, Tuesday is a very important day in the life of my parents. It will be their fiftieth wedding anniversary and the world has changed much since 1965. To see the both of them still together encourages me to continue my lifelong commitment with my wife whom I adore.
In a world where experts are popping up all over in media including those of marriage and relationships, the strongest message my parents could ever send is to experience your hills and valleys, keep pressing on with the daily storms of your lives and most importantly, show your spouse how much you love them. It hasn’t been easy for Mr. and Mrs. Chatmon, but they’ve not only thrived in the fifty years they’ve been together, they show that although marriage isn’t easy and arguments, differences, opinions will emerge; they show a deep healthy respect for each other. Respect, the one word lacking in practice with this generation today.
Perhaps I should have seen this coming, but in an entry that I wrote ten years to this day:
I hope when it's my turn (and man, is that door closing fast, lol) I'll enjoy marital bliss as long as my parents. We shall see.
As everyone knows right now I have a happy marriage and I’m determined to keep it that way. I feel my wife agrees with that (smile). Whatever the reason, marriage between two people should be taken seriously. I can see in my father’s eyes how much he loves my mother even though at times he doesn’t appear to be well. My mother carried the financial load when my father was released from his job due to the sale of his old restaurant where he served as head cook. They worked as a team, always enduring to the end. Can we find a love like that in this new era in time? I hope so.
I don’t know how long the Lord will keep my parents together. Fifty years is a long time to be with someone that you love. In truth, their longevity in this blessed union is a sign that we all should take heed and learn to adapt for ourselves.
Happy Anniversary to my parents, still going strong for fifty years!
Earlier this week I suffered a loss. It wasn’t a person I knew, but rather the loss of my trusty laptop along with a few other items that I needed. This would call for me to get upset, angry, spill my lips with foul language but I realize that what’s lost can be replaced. Therefore, I’ll make this short and sweet.
I had planned to write about a lost generation, ours, and this week helped convince me of that. This thought was also spurred on by a conversation with a church member who I know very well and who works at a school. We spoke about how the streets or the mentality our young men carry in their hearts about the streets, never changes. It’s funny, we can protest using all of the hashtags we want, post our outrage at law enforcement on progressive websites, blogs, you name it and the mindset of our young people, the ‘rules’ of the street, the alliances and the loyalty to this lifestyle hasn’t vanished away. Reparations is not the magic wand that will change their thinking, neither education at this point. It takes a strong core group of focused men and women to set their minds right. The problem is, there are too many voices and too many distractions invading these young people’s minds. When you have a presidential candidate named after a vulgar YouTube video with nine percent of the vote in your state, that is a sure sign our young people in this new generation are lost. Hopefully not forever.
This new school year I plan to work with young people who are serious and are building towards their future. Class clowns, I have no more tolerance for them. If they choose to think life is one big skit and think with the lower organs of their bodies and not with the supreme region in their heads, it’s their loss and they made a conscious decision to be dimwits. I’m not co-signing that behavior any longer. The same goes for adults. It’s bad enough these young people are confused in this new era in time but grown ups who encourage those attitudes, shouldn’t even try to befriend me. It’s way past time to get serious about a lot of things in our society. Whatever mentality or lifestyles that hold us back, need to be dropped so we can move forward with the more important issues of our time. Maintaining a life of ignorance and foolishness is not one of them.
Note: This entry was written on August 31, 2005. It's based on an article I sent to a newspaper in Atlanta, Ga in 1999 that I hoped would be shown for the paper's audience. Please, enjoy. Words have been 'cleaned up' that were not done so in the original.
With the last out made in this fading century's World Series, there will be assurances that the grand old game of baseball will be secured in the hands of a new generation. Names like McGwire, Sosa, Griffey and Jeter will carry on the excitement of the sport while names such as Ruth, Aaron, Mays and Mantle will live on in the memories of the pundits as evidenced in the recent selections of the All-Century baseball team. Thirty names were selected out of hundreds who've ever played the game. There were bound to be omissions of certain players who should have received their due but were unable to get on the list.
The biggest omissions belonged to those of other ethnic decent such as Roberto Clemente, who played most of his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates before a plane crash ended his life in 1972. (Latino sportswriters, upset with Clemente being slighted from the team chose their own All-Century squad). Unfortunately, no one from the Negro Leagues was chosen as well. This even caught the attention of Joe Morgan, formerly of the Cincinnati Reds and current baseball analyst who himself was denied a spot from the All-Century team. In his own words, he said, ``The committee should have used their five picks more wisely. Fans voted better than the committee. Not to have one Latin player on the team is not right. And they are basically saying that the Negro leagues never existed.'' Fans were allowed to choose 25 players, the committee of baseball historians, executives and media were allowed to pick the remaining five.
To be honest, the fans did vote for several Negro League stars such as Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and Cool Papa Bell who are in the hall of fame. However, for these players to be left off the starting team by the experts is a tragedy. For one, those men earned their right on that list, playing in a time when America truly wasn't ready to accept the talents of men such as these. Another reason why it's a shame no one from the Negro Leagues made the list would be as Morgan said, that it gives the impression that they never existed. It wouldn't explain the reason for every number 42 in baseball being retired in honor of Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in baseball in 1947. One must wonder why did that come about? Before Jackie Robinson was a Brooklyn Dodger, he played for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues. His success in the major leagues allowed such players such as Paige to finally show white audiences the talent they were blessed with.
Along with Paige, there were other notable players who played in the Negro Leagues such as Gibson and Bell. Willie Foster, considered to be the greatest left handed pitcher, played for 15 years. In his tenure he won pennants with the Chicago American Giants in 1926, 1927, 1932 and 1933. Ray Dandridge is often called the "best third baseman never to make the major leagues." In his 16 year playing career, some of it spent in Mexico in the 1940's, his batting average was well in the .300's, a dream average for modern major league players. The New York Giants did sign Dandridge and sent him to their Minneapolis farm club where they won the championship and Dandridge himself won MVP honors. For all his troubles, the Giants never promoted him to the big club. Buck Leonard helped the Homestead Greys achieve dominance in the Negro Leagues. In their version of the National league, Leonard with Josh Gibson won pennants from 1937-45. A power hitter like his teammate Gibson, Leonard and the Greys won back to back World Series titles in 1943-44. He played 17 years and when the time came for Leonard to play in the major leagues, he passed on the idea due to his age.
Besides the players, it was the teams that made the Negro Leagues what it was. The most famous were the Kansas City Monarchs, Homestead Greys, Detroit Stars, Chicago American Stars, and the Pittsburgh Crawfords. There was also a team in Atlanta called the Black Crackers. In the 1938 season, they like the Braves of the 1990's, won a title in the Negro American League. In a split season, they won a title in the second half. Unfortunately, because of a cancellation in their League Championship Series against the Memphis Red Sox, there wasn't a league champion.
Who could forget the ill fated comments made by the late Al Campanis, who in 1987 on a "Nightline" celebrating the 40th year of Robinson's inclusion in the major leagues said that blacks lacked "the necessities" to become managers and executives. The very existence of the Negro Leagues disputes those comments. The two major leagues were founded by Rube Foster, "the father of black baseball". He originated the Negro National League, and Ed Bolden who formed the Eastern Colored League. In later years, a new National League was created along with a new American League. Needless to say, crowds showed up for the games, proving that Blacks did have the necessities to not only manage the game but run the organization of it as well. One can only wonder if the committee took all of that into account when selecting the All-Century team.
It is important to remember the Negro Leagues not only for their existence but for their significance as well. In a time when America was "separate but equal", the denial from the white major leagues to admit Negro ballplayers until Robinson's appearance, showed the treatment was anything but. Of course, there are tales of how Robinson faced the racial insults and intolerances thrown at him. However, he endured not only because it was important to him, it was also important to the Paiges, the Gibsons, the other ballplayers of color who gave it all for the game. It showed that they like himself belonged, whether white America was ready for it or not.
Perhaps the committee didn't quite consider the climate of the time in America during the heydays of the Negro League. If they had, they would have considered the above mentioned players never receiving their just due until the 1970's when players from the old Negro League finally were admitted to the Hall of Fame. To deny a player a spot on the All-Century baseball team is to also say Jim Crowism never existed and in the case of the players of the Negro Leagues, it did. Although the leagues lasted for a brief time, from the early 1900's to 1948, it showed that there were men who were willing to play for the love of the game even if a nation didn't love them. However, the committee chose not to take all of this into account, which is why with the five extra picks they could have used for at least one Negro Leaguer, they in effect stuck out. It's a shame that the players from the League were left off, an absolute tragedy.
One could only hope as we embark on a new century, Negro Leaguers will get the recognition from the only committee that should truly matter. Not from pundits, traditionalists or executives, but from the fans of all colors.
For more information: you can look up www.blackbaseball.com
A Love Poem
a poem (that doesn't rhyme)
Note: I wrote this when I was 14 years old in junior high, just for the fun of it. Little did I know........
I like my baby because she's so fine, she's my sweetheart, which I know she's too sweet for the bees to come get their honey. She's my angel, she's my wonder woman. At nine, she's fine. And any dude should know she's mine. I don't care what anyone thinks of my baby but me. Baby, our love can extend to the heavens and beyond. Or it can fall like a heavy stone. But as long as you are with me, I hope you can see my ever burning love inside my heart. Baby, I hope you love me as much as I love you. If you're thinking what I'm thinking of you, then we have a match within ourselves. Every time I see you, I just explode just trying to be with you. I also hope my feelings are fine with you. We may have some problems, and we may have some dislikes about ourselves, but still, our love for each other can come out like a bird soaring the skies. The places we go, the things we do, I hope will make you happy like any girl. Because you are my superstar lady and I love you.
- Me, CLCJ
Note: written on August 11, 2005
Okay, now that you've seen enough of my comments regarding Watts 40 years ago, I think it's best to let you, the viewer, read what emotions and experiences felt by those who were there in the area at the time the unrest happened. And the impact it still has today. Here are a series of links to help you on your search:
I hope that something is learned from your search to better help you understand, even if you don't agree. Take care.