Epilogue to Elnora

Elnora was supposed to be a happy, fake, historical story. Somewhere in the mist of telling this story, Elnora and Lemon took a life of their own. None of this actually happened to a girl name Elnora and a boy called Lemon or Hometown. Nor did these events actually happen to anyone I know or have been told about. Last Spring I was going to Branson, Mo. on a Greyhound Bus. When I got off the Bus in St. Louis, Mo., for a rest stop, I saw a young Indian young man who looked just like my mind’s idea of Lemon. He looked at me as if to say “Why is that old Black Woman looking at me?” I wanted to say: Hello Lemon.
Elnora went through the course of growing pains just like a real girl. At one point she was extremely jealous of Lemon.
The story might have ended differently if Elnora had been mature enough to realize Kenneth really loved her.
It is said God has a funny sense of humor. When I dated my husband, my only request was that he never became a minister. I grew up as a minister’s daughter. I can remember my Mom going through trouble times as the wife of a minister. Every situation is not the same. However, I didn’t want to try out that scenario. Many of my husband’s friends were ministers. He was encouraged to go into the ministry by his friends; I would not stand in the way if he had felt he had a true calling from God on his life. As I said before, God has a true funny sense of humor. God realized I adamantly objected to my husband becoming a minister so he called me.
When my husband and son were killed in 2006, I was in the SUV with them. When I woke up after my Doctor’s induce comma, people were telling me they were sorry for my lost. I didn’t consider them lost. I knew where they were. They were with the Lord. I was told by several people; Richard Dishon (my son) came by their house or place of employment to talk about true salvation. Richard (my husband) was a Sunday School Teacher. He was a true servant of God. Richard would be proud of the story about Elnora. It speaks of a Godly life without being too preachy. The story runs the unequivocal existence of two young lovers from alpha to omega.
Elnora story line was suppose tell of a girl growing up on a farm in Alabama on the edge of the Civil Rights Movement, but it ended up being much more. One does get a sense of what life was like for people of color doing that era. However, The Trials and Tribulation of Elnora ended up being much more.

Elnora at age seventeen

Elnora at age seventeen
Lemon asks me to marry him now we were seniors in high school. I said let me discuss this with my parents. I do truly love you, but we are taking such a big step, I want to know how my parents feel about this engagement during our senior year in high school. I spoke with my parents as we sat down to eat. Momma and Dad just looked at one another. Little Earl asked to say grace. He prayed: Lord, don’t let my sister marry this creep. He is not sincere about marriage. He only wants to become engaged so he can be with her biblically. Now Lord, bless this food that is prepared for the nourishment of our bodies for Christ sake. Amen. After that blessing, we all ate in silence.
After dinner, Mom and I were washing dishes. Momma asked: Have you spoken to Aunt Mable about your great news? I replied, No I have not. Momma was not much for talking so she simply said: You might want to run your intentions by her. It just so happen Aunt Mabel dropped by on her way to the grocery store. Aunt Mabel wanted to know if Momma wanted her to pick anything up for her. Momma said no but Elnora had good news to share. At this time I told Aunt Mable about my intentions to marry Lemon. Aunt Mable said Sugar, that is great news. However, I do remember how crazy you were in the six grade when you thought Lemon was going with his next door neighbor. When you two kids go off to college, Lemon will be a basketball star. Girls will be all over him. By that time, you may be at home with a baby in arm and another one on the way. All I have to say good luck and God Bless.
The next day Lemon drove his Daddy’s old truck. He declared: I can’t wait until I get my scholarship money. I will buy a new car. I will be on a full basketball scholarship. I have also been offered money for my academic achievements. I can do whatever I want to do with that money.
Daddy walked in and asked Lemon where was he going to celebrate our engagement. Lemon told Daddy we were going to the Cooperfield Gardens. Daddy said: That’s a mighty fine restaurant. My wife and I have never been there. Honey, they are going to the Cooperfield Gardens. Honey , get dressed we are going with them. Lemon said: Oh, no, some other night . I have planned for this night to be special. Dad said: Oh, I don’t mean we will be riding with you. We will take our own car. In that way you can get back to the Pettaway’s house before it is too late and we can bring Elnora home for you, Lemon said: Oh no Sir, that is not what I had in mind. Dad said: Yes son, I know what you had in mind. Boy, the engagement is off. You are not marrying Elnora. Go Home!
Little Earl added: Don’t let the door hit you where the good Lord split you. Lemon protested: It is Elnora’s decision. Come on Elnora let’s go!
I was mortified. I loved my parents and I loved Lemon. I stood there with tears running down my cheeks. Lemon repeated: Come on Elnora, let’s go! My feet were frozen to the floor. I heard Lemon talking to me but I couldn’t move.
Lemon ran out the door, jumped in his Dad’s truck and took off as fast as he could drive. That was the last time I saw Lemon alive. I don’t know what happen next. When I woke up in the hospital, his neighbor next door to the people who wanted to adopt him, paid me a visit. Lemon had been buried. She said Lemon came by her house for comfort and asked her to take a ride with him. She had just broken up with her boyfriend and it was good to see an old familiar face. He was sad and so was she. Lemon’s whole conversation was about me. He had tears in his eyes and missed a curve in the road. Lemon was speeding at the time and the speed of the car threw her out. He lost control and ran into a building on 94th Street South. The car immediately burst into flames. Lemon did not have time to get out of the car and perished in the flames. After watching the car go up in flames she went into shock. An ambulance picked her up. She was treated for shock and released.
Later, my parents told me when I was told about what happen to Lemon, I passed out. I was taken to the hospital and I drifted off into a coma. There I remained until three weeks later. I can not remember any of that. The only thing I do know, the love of my life is gone.

Elnora at age sixteen

Elnora at sixteen
I felt pretty good about being a junior. I had it all going on. I had made it to the varsity cheerleading squad. Peggy and Samuetta didn’t have anything on me. I was also a teacher with the purity campaign movement and I was a student that everybody looked up to.
We went from town to town with our campaign. One day while we were passing through Birmingham, Alabama in 1960. A local Minister by the name Fred Shuttleworth and another Minister, Abraham Woods were trying to get the people aroused to do something about the evil treatment of Blacks during that era. Some of the people thought we were Civil Rights Leaders from the North who had come down to help them. They soon found out we had not come to help. We were on another mission from God. When the crowd discovered we were not there to help, we gassed up and left. The image of the look in the eyes of those people never left my memory. Three years later Dr. Martin Luther King came to Birmingham, Alabama. By this time, the people were energized and the children lead the way.
Project C (Encyclopedia, 1963)Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia
Martin Luther King’s presence in Birmingham was not welcomed by all in the black community. A local black attorney complained in Time that the new city administration did not have enough time to confer with the various groups invested in changing the city’s segregation policies.[35] Black hotel owner A. G. Gaston agreed.[35] A white Jesuit priest assisting in desegregation negotiations attested the “demonstrations [were] poorly timed and misdirected”.[35]Protest organizers knew they would meet with violence from the Birmingham Police Department and chose a confrontational approach to get the attention of the federal government.[20] Wyatt Tee Walker, one of the SCLC founders and the executive director from 1960 to 1964, planned the tactics of the direct action protests, specifically targeting Bull Connor’s tendency to react to demonstrations with violence: “My theory was that if we mounted a strong nonviolent movement, the opposition would surely do something to attract the media, and in turn induce national sympathy and attention to the everyday segregated circumstance of a person living in the Deep South.”[19] He headed the planning of what he called Project C, which stood for “confrontation”. Organizers believed their phones were tapped, so to prevent their plans from being leaked and perhaps influencing the mayoral election, they used code words for demonstrations. [36]

The plan called for direct nonviolent action to attract media attention to “the biggest and baldest city of the South”.[37] In preparation for the protests, Walker timed the walking distance from the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, headquarters for the campaign, to the downtown area. He surveyed the segregated lunch counters of department stores, and listed federal buildings as secondary targets should police block the protesters’ entrance into primary targets such as stores, libraries, and all-white churches. [38]
The campaign used a variety of nonviolent methods of confrontation, including sit-ins at libraries and lunch counters, kneel-ins by black visitors at white churches, and a march to the county building to mark the beginning of a voter-registration drive. Most businesses responded by refusing to serve demonstrators. Some white spectators at a sit-in at a Woolworth’s lunch counter spat upon the participants. [39] A few hundred protesters, including jazz musician Al Hibbler, were arrested, although Hibbler was immediately released by Connor. [40]
The SCLC’s goals were to fill the jails with protesters to force the city government to negotiate as demonstrations continued. However, not enough people were arrested to affect the functioning of the city and the wisdom of the plans were being questioned in the black community. The editor of The Birmingham World, the city’s black newspaper, called the direct actions by the demonstrators “wasteful and worthless”, and urged black citizens to use the courts to change the city’s racist policies.[41] Most white residents of Birmingham expressed shock at the demonstrations. White religious leaders denounced King and the other organizers, saying that “a cause should be pressed in the courts and the negotiations among local leaders, and not in the streets”. [42] Some white Birmingham residents were supportive as the boycott continued. When one black woman entered Loveman’s department store to buy her children Easter shoes, a white saleswoman said to her, “Negro, ain’t you ashamed of yourself, your people out there on the street getting put in jail and you in here spending money and I’m not going to sell you any, you’ll have to go some other place.”[43] King promised a protest every day until “peaceful equality had been assured” and expressed doubt that the new mayor would ever voluntarily desegregate the city.
The students became distracted by the civil rights movement to the point there was no one left but Kenneth and I when he came home from college. We had no other choice in 1962 but to disband our movement for the greater cause. Everyone was free to go train with Dr. Martin Luther King’s movement. Many of the students at our school did just that. Lemon heard that our group had disband. He came home and asks me to go out with him. Momma ask me not to forget I still wore the purity ring. I assured her Lemon was a gentleman. He would never pressure me into doing anything I did not want to do.

Elnora at age fifteen

Elnora at fifteen (a sophomore in high school)
I went from town to town spreading my thoughts on purity. I changed many lives. Some young people had never had a sexual experience and some had already experimented with sex. Those who had previously experimented promised to never do it again until marriage. Whenever the tour took us to Lemon’s hometown, I always had an excuse not to go. Eventually, Pastor Goldman asked me why I was selective in the cities and towns I chose to speak in. I knew at that point, everybody was on to me. What could I do? I was not fooling anybody but myself. At that point I knew I had to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. Yes, I went to church. Yes, I went out on dates. Yes, in every way; in all appearances I had it all going on. My teachers, my parents, my classmates all knew me as a good girl, as good girls were known in 1958.
That night after Pastor Goldman asked why I chose some towns where I would speak and some I would avoid, I had no choice but to make a decision. I had to be all in or all out. It didn’t make any sense at the time, to waste my life waiting for Lemon to change his wild ways. In my belief, Lemon had forgotten about me and the best thing for me to do was forget about him. I felt what I should do was fall in love with someone else. That was easier said than done. I traveled all over the state but I didn’t meet anyone quite like Lemon Pettaway.
Finally, one Sunday, Pastor Dykes made an alter call. I went down as the choir softly sang “I Surrender All’. All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live. All to Jesus I surrender, Humbly at His feet I bow; Worldly pleasures all forsaken Take me Jesus, take me now. All to Jesus I surrender, make me, Savior, wholly Thine; Let me feel the Holy Spirit Truly know that Though art mine. All to Jesus I surrender, Lord, I give myself to Thee; Fill me with thy love and power, Let thy blessing fall on me. I Surrender all, I surrender all. All to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.
While I was at the alter the the second stanza of the third verse resonated deep in my thoughts. “Let me feel thy the holy Spirit-Truly know that Thou art mine”. I realized what I needed was the Holy spirit living in me. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, the blessed Trinity was what I needed. How could I invite the Holy Spirit to come live in me? I had asked Jesus to live in my heart. I said I wanted my life to be more like Jesus. That is exactly what he gave me. Jesus was misunderstood. So was I. Momma told me to be careful what you ask for when you pray. You might just get it and what you have asked for may not be what you want. When the Lord answers your prayer it may come as a shock.
The Holy Spirit orders your steps. I wanted to do the right thing but sometimes it was impossible to keep my big mouth shut. I had become Peggy. I ran off at the mouth all at the wrong times. If I saw something I saw was not right, I told all concerned. I don’t think this is right. Sometimes I even told my teachers and others in authority. I had a big mouth and everybody knew it. Sometimes when some of the shy kids had something done to them that was not right, everybody told them to tell Elnora. She is not afraid of the anybody.
Maybe that is why I was chosen to go on tour. I could stand up to the worst of the worst without fear. Maybe I was just a big bully. Counseling, directing, recommending, guiding, instructing, warning, informing, instructing and making aware was all just a ploy.
Many young people felt to live a spirit feel life was for the older generation. They felt like it would stop them from having fun. I was told by many a young person, they were too young to live the kind of life we preached. I asked have you ever listened to one of our presentations. Usually the answer was no. They had not listened nor did they want to listen. With a little urging and persuasion they learned they could still have fun and be a Christian.

1st portion of Elnora age twelve

Lemon came back during the summer without announcing he was coming. Kenneth dropped by my house to apologize for what happen to me at his house. I said it was ok. I should apologize to him for my father’s and uncles’ behavior. While we were apologizing to one another Lemon walked up. Lemon looked at me and said: I came to keep you company but it seems like you already have company. Kenneth said: Oh no, man, it’s ok I’m leaving. I just came over to apologize. Lemon expressed genuine confusion when he asked Kenneth; apologize for What. Kenneth started to explain I was in his bed. Lemon looks at me and bellowed, you were in his bed! I said: Yes Lemon, let me explain. Lemon walked away yelling, don’t explain anything to me. Kenneth ran after him screaming: Does this mean you don’t want her anymore? I started to cry. Kenneth came back to comfort me. Meanwhile, Daddy came out of the front door and asked Kenneth what was he doing. Kenneth told Daddy he had to comfort me because Lemon just dumped me. Daddy told Kenneth he was lying because Lemon couldn’t have just dumped me. Lemon doesn’t live here anymore. I tried to come to Kenneth’s defense but Daddy told me to shut up. Girl, go to your room, get down on your knees, ask God to forgive you for telling that lie. Boy, go home before I kill you. I went to my room and called Lemon.

Part 3 Elnora age twelve

Part 3 Elnora at twelve
Mrs. Pettaway would not let me speak to Lemon. She was very unkind to me. Mrs. Pettaway said I had made her boy cry. She was not going to let me hurt him anymore. I told her I was sorry if I had made her boy cry and I just wanted to let him know I was sorry. She handed the phone to Lemon. I asked him why she called him her boy. I thought he was his mother’s boy. Lemon said Mrs. Pettaway claimed all of the children as her own. We called her Momma Pettaway. At one time the doctors thought she was dying. She wanted his mom to marry Mr. Pettaway. When she discovered she would live, she put us out. She didn’t want us to leave just my Mom. However my Mom would not leave without us
Mr. Pettaway bought a cow. Lemon and Mrs. Pettaway learned to milk the cow. They learned to churn the milk into butter and cheese. They learned to make buttermilk, yogurt, and cottage cheese. Mr. Pettaway had a little vegetable garden. Lemon and Mrs. Pettaway had to sell the excess. They stayed too busy to think. The only thing poor Lemon had time to do was write his mother.
I thought the school year would be boring. One day as I got off the bus at my usual stop, Kenneth got off the bus with me. Usually Kenneth got off at the next stop. He called out Elnora, Elnora wait! I pointed to myself and he said again Elnora, I have something to ask you. Well, my mother wants you to answer something for her. I asked what is it she wants. Kenneth said: She wants you to go on a tour with us speaking to young people about remaining pure. Pastor Dykes and my father will sponsor a Purity Campaign Bus for youth speakers and their parents. They would like for a group of young people to speak to other young people about remaining pure. I am pure. Are you? Very sharp and quickly I answered; if you are not sure, why are you talking to me? Kenneth replied; oh, I know. Dad and Mom asked at school, church, and in the community. We realize some of you are only twelve. There are even more who are still pure today, however according to the track record of some their older siblings the projections is they will not be by the time they are seniors. Your family has a good track record. We do not judge people by the performance of the other members of their family. Nevertheless, it is one way of predicting behavior. Of course, there are some very good parents who are going to be shocked. We hope to reach those parents as well. Those parents must continue to love their child/children and do all that they can do for those who miss the mark. If they are exposed to the correct information, they will make the rich choice. The boy team will speak to the boys and we are hopeful you will join the young ladies. After our small group presentations, we will give them commitment sheets to sign and a purity ring. They will be free to wear the ring as long as their behavior is applicable.
Kenneth told me Pastor Dykes would write the speech for me if I didn’t have time or I could speak extemporaneously .He said I was very good thinking on my feet. The group and I were free to say whatever we wanted to say as long as our message remained germane to the commitment. Kenneth then asks: Do we have a deal? He had no idea how happy I was to have something to do other than school work.

Elnora at thirteen

I went on the tour during the summer I turn thirteen. I felt really grown up due to the fact I was now a teacher. We, with Mrs. Goldman, Kenneth’s Mom, my Mom and many other parents went all over the state with our purity propaganda speeches. We didn’t know it at the time. We were ahead of the nation. Purity commitments and purity rings did not become popular until the nineties under the leadership of President Bush. Under his determination, many ministers felt validated in creating a purity team at their church. Some teachers in public schools wanted to start purity clubs in schools. They saw the importance of such clubs. However, the law would not allow them to organize such a club at their school.
The message was the same then as it is today.
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Elnora at fourteen

Elnora at fourteen
My first year at high school was exciting. The seniors gave the freshmen a welcoming party. At our party they played all of the Top songs of the day. We danced to the Jailhouse Rock, Elvis Presley, Banana Boat song, Harry Belafonte, Blueberry Hill, Fats Domino, Goody Goody, Frankie Lymon, Chances Are, Johnny Mathis, Tammy, Debbie Reynolds, All Shook Up, Elvis Presley, Come and Go with me, The Del-Vikings, Searching, The Coasters, You send Me, Sam Cooke, Silhouettes, The Rays and many, many more. It was a great party. The seniors behaved as if they were genuine glad to see us.
Kenneth was in the eleventh grade. He had friends that were seniors and they made sure I got all the refreshments I wanted. He was a friend of the DJ and they played SAVED THE LAST DANCE FOR ME. Kenneth came in to help his friend put everything away. While he was there, he danced to “Save the Last Dance for Me” with me. I even started to like Samuetta again.

Lemon happily lived with his Mom. He played on the basketball team at his High School after shooting ball over the summer for the first time. I heard he was awesome. Lemon could score from half court. Daddy even said “Look out, Bill Russell. Lemon Pettaway is on the court”.
We listened to his games on our radio because no station played Negro High School Games on TV at that time. That year Lemon led his team to victory. Everyone took notice. He was only a freshman with three more years to go. Under his leadership, his school became state champions. Mr. Pettaway would even be friends with daddy during basketball season. My uncles would come by the house and listen to the games with daddy.
One day after a game, the announcer called Lemon over. He said you know you are a triple threat. You are a freshman captain of your school’s debating team, you are an honor roll student, and you are captain of your basketball team. Where can you go from here? Will you go to college when you finish high school? You don’t have to go. The NBA will make you a first draft. If you keep going the way you are going, they will be crazy to let you slip out of their hands. Mr. Pettaway screamed: Yo, that’s my boy!
Momma said: What happens if he gets hurt? Uncle Bob shouted: She is right. The boy needs an education. The first time I ever heard daddy disagree with Momma. Daddy said: If he doesn’t get hurt, he is going to be a very rich man. He is my Hometown boy. From that day on my daddy, my uncles the church and even Mr. Pettaway called Lemon “Hometown”. The name “Hometown” stuck and even the radio announcers called him
Kenneth and I went all over the state speaking with confidence until one day we went to Lemon’s mother hometown. Kenneth spoke to the boys and I spoke to the girls. After we were finished speaking, we asked the participants to come sign the pledge. I looked over at Kenneth and there stood Lemon. I walked over and asked Lemon was he there to sign. He said no. He and his girlfriend only came to see what the commitment was all about. Lemon turned around and looked at a very pretty girl. I asked Lemon if that was the girl he was going to marry. He said no. It would not be fair to me. He had always loved me and if I had not married when we finished school we would have to marry each other. It was obvious I was shaking, Kenneth put his arms around me and said: Don’t talk to him; he can sell fire to the devil. I didn’t know what to say so I told Lemon to his family I said hello. I could see the disappointment in Kenneth’s eyes. I was so obviously shaken I told the girl with me to close up by herself.

Addendum to age thirteen

them to organize such a club.
The message was the same then as it is today.
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Addendum to Elnora thirteen

Many of the kids, especially boys, were teased for being a member of our team. Some of the girls who still believed in our message were teased to the point they could not stand the pressure. Our group grew smaller but stronger. No one ever teased me. I suppose they all knew I took karate. They knew better.
Mother had to stop traveling with us to go to Montana. Her mother passed away. She and daddy had to find someone to keep us. Janie had something important she wanted to do. She asked if she could stay with Carlene. Samuel was on the football team. They were having practice that summer. He told Mom, he was very sorry her Mom passed away, but he did not want to miss practice because he was the starting quarterback. He was afraid if he left; coach would place someone else in his position. Samuetta was best friends with Peggy. Samuetta decided it would be best for her and Samuel to stay at Peggy’s house. Little Earl and I stayed at Aunt Mable’s house. The only one left was Bernice. They took Bernice with them. Momma said it was such a long trip; Bernice could help drive. I think Bernice didn’t want Momma to leave her.
I was a little happy to be back with Aunt Mable. Little Earl was nine years old but he still loved bedtime stories. Aunt Mable read us a story called “Uncle Tom Cabin” by a lady name Harriet Beecher Stowe. Mrs. Stowe started to name her story “Life among the Lowly”. However, she settled on the name “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”.
Momma had to stay for two weeks to help her sisters and brothers assist their father. That gave Aunt Mable a chance to read most of the book. Momma’s brothers and sisters decided their father should no longer live alone. Each sister or brother would keep him for a year. Mom decided to take him for the first year. They came home with Grandpa. Even thou Little Earl was nine years old, he still had an impetuous spark. He asks grandpa did he have any wrens in his beard. Grandpa said no. Why did he ask such a foolish question? Little Earl told him he knew an old man with a beard. He had four larks and a wren and they had all built their nest in his beard. Grandpa didn’t seem amused by Little Earl’s inquiry. He acted as though he had always lived there. He simply said: Un-hum.
Some days Gramps was alright and some days he wasn’t. He told little Earl to get on Brown Pony and catch the Greyhound Bus for him. Every day, near the same time, that bus came by and a little greyhound dog followed. Gramps thought the dog was trying to catch his master. Gramps told Little Earl, if they ever mated that dog, he wanted one of those puppies. That’s the fastest dog he had ever seen.
Gramps would not go to church with us. Gramps said Pastor Dykes couldn’t preach. I soon discovered Gramps said whatever came to his mind at that moment.
Daddy showed me three tickets to The Greatest Show on Earth. Evidently Daddy lived on Mars. He showed me three tickets. They were for Gramps, Little Earl and me. However, I went into Momma’s room to get a comb and I saw another ticket. Momma couldn’t go because she had a missionary meeting. I’m sure that ticket was for Dad. He took us and came back for us but he missed The Greatest Show on Earth.
It was a regular year. Little Earl gave all of his teacher’s grief. His homeroom teacher, his P. E. teacher, his Art teacher and his Music teacher, all said Little Earl knew exactly what he was doing. He would ask questions no one could answer. He loved tricking his teachers. They would just send him to the office. The office manager used him to run errands for her and then she would send him back to his class. He became known as the office boy. I think Little Earl really liked that. Often times, he and Daddy were invited on fishing trips in the principal’s big boat.
Samuetta thought she was a big shot. Samuetta was voted as school queen by the entire student body.
After my fourteenth birthday, Pauline, one of my mom’s sisters came and got grandpa.
To be continued

addendum to Elnora age 12

Little Earl’s behavior didn’t seem to bother anyone except Daddy and me. He was Momma’s child, but his inappropriate behavior seemed to wash right off of Mom like water on the down of a duck. Some of the things Little Earl did and said are not worthy of reporting. Momma always said: He’s just (All Boy).
It became my duty to be the story reader after Aunt Mable moved out. One night, as I read Little Earl a story, he fell asleep. I thought to myself; Yes, he is “all boy” who gives his teachers grief. I lean over and kissed little Earl on his head and said “good night” all Boy.

The End.