AfriGeneas Writers Forum
Re: What was My Dad Thinking?
In Response To: Re: What was My Dad Thinking? ()
As you and the AfriGeneas family know, I come to this forum to learn.
You have forced me to think further about the events surrounding my story. I'm trying to put some meat on the bones of the data.
Our recollections and what was told to us are our foundations. We'll eventually get to a point where it is all data. But there is so much heart and soul and oral information and tradition to deal with before we get there. Hence, the Writers' forum.
We need to tap our consciousness, now, and put humanity on top of what we do, as genealogists, to all that data stuff we compile.
Here's my revision based on your thoughts.
William Emmett Geder
What was My Dad Thinking?
The safest I ever felt was laying in bed between my parents. Dad figured that age five was the cutoff point. One night he tied a monster balloon near the cracked window, woke me up pointing to the swaying dragon, then turned on the lights and asked me what the hell was I afraid of.
On Saturdays, my Dad would take me from one end of Binghamton, New York to the other side of town where Philadelphia Sales, the poor people's discount store, was located. The nearly 4 mile walk would take us past our former home in the decimated ‘colored section’ in the center of the city.
I would lead occasionally looking back to make sure Dad was keeping up. We took short cuts near the banks of the Susquehanna river. I never trusted the old Thompkin’s street bridge; I had dreams of it collapsing. Once we were under the Erie-Lackawana railroad overpass, we could see the store. Shopping only took minutes.
We headed back towards the center of town, to Milton's Grill. Aunt Lettie’s dress shop was across the street. We would visit if she was open. She wasn’t my real Aunt, just a friend of the family. She always asked me about school. Years later I learned that she sang in one of Dad’s bands.
Comic books, orange sodas, my own private booth; compliments of Tony the bartender. Dad was 'belly-to-the-bar'. I was seven years old; it was 1958. Sometime in the afternoon, Dad would finally put me on the Conklin Ave bus returning me back to the other end of Binghamton, New York with packages for Mom to inspect.
Dad did not talk a lot. I don't remember having long talks with him. He was usually brief and to the point. I could tell that there were many things on his mind. It just never occurred to me to ask him. By November of 1977, it was too late. He had passed away.
Everyone told me he was a fantastic piano player. He led many orchestras and bands. My sister Sonya, in New York City, has some newspaper cutouts of his various groups. At some point, she will share them with me. I have this October 29, 1923 edition of the Daily Review of Towanda, Bradford county, Pennsylvania:
Bill Geder's Colored Peerless Six
Bill Geder's Colored Peerless Six of Binghamton will be the evening's specialty.
Those boys from Binghamton have the pep. Their novelty music will make you step. Get ready, baby, for Ulster hall, for they are having a masquerade ball. Singing an extra feature.
Dancing 9 to 1
I only knew his playing from the holiday gigs, dance recitals and private parties. When I was five we moved; as did most of the ‘colored section’ due to urban renewal. Dad didn’t take the baby grand piano. It wouldn’t fit in the new apartment. By then he was already in the throes of arthritis.
My fourth grade teacher asked me where did I learn to write music like that. It was Dad's turn-of-the-century song encyclopedia. I had Dad’s books, but I didn’t have his skills. I also didn’t have sense enough to to know that a 10 year old in 1962 wouldn’t be listening to the ‘Maple Leaf Rag’.
It could have been his own music had he not given up his passion in order to raise a family at the far end of Binghamton, New York. I do recall seeing some silver albums bearing Dad’s name. Mom threw them out, along the the Philco radio that I think only needed new tubes.
The 1930 federal census for Syracuse, NY enumerated Daddy as the conductor of an Orchestra. This is three years before Pearle Hancock took his hand in marriage in Rochester, NY. Between 1935 and 1939 my two sisters and brother came along with hard times. I didn’t show until 1951. My siblings were thrilled with that.
Was Dad thinking about the images of his Ancestors in the hidden photo album? Me and my siblings never saw this collection. Our second great grandparents, born in slavery, there in tintypes. Their children posed fierce in plumes and suits; our greats on postcards. From 1935 to 1977, at least, this album was hidden.
Mom, born in Williston, South Carolina had childhood memories of lynched, shot, and murdered uncles, and a brother thought to have killed a teacher. She never told me any of this. Spring cleaning would have that photo album trashed. Pearle passed in September of 1975. For the record, I did ask Mom about the past.
My father’s dad, Emmett Moore Geder, passed in 1944; his Mother, Beulah Stevenson Geder, in 1910. I will never know about them. I never asked, he never told. My mother’s dad, drowned in the 1928 Florida hurricane. Her mother, my grandma Willa Hancock was quiet as well. She died two days after her daughter, Pearle.
Dad stayed with me while my oldest sister Sonya, his caretaker, vacationed in Africa. I could have asked while shaving him, fixing his meals or cabbing him to Milton’s Grill. What the hell was I thinking?
"Daddy, eat your carrots, doctor's orders"