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Re: What was My Dad Thinking? Revision 2
In Response To: Re: What was My Dad Thinking? ()

Thank you Dera, Regina and Write Away for your comments, critiques, and support.

Iíve incorporated much of what you all have suggested in this revision. I hope I donít bore any of the AfriGeneas family; certainly that is not my intent. So folks, please continue to give me feedback here on the forum. We can all learn from these exercises. Hereís revision 2.
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I Wonder as I Wander;
Musings from the African Diaspora
by George A. Geder

William Emmett Geder
1903-1977

What was My Dad Thinking?

The safest I ever felt was lying 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 after breakfast, 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 Ďcolored sectioní in the center of the city.

I would lead occasionally looking back making sure Dad was keeping up. We walked near the banks of the Susquehanna river. I never trusted the old Thompkinís street bridge that we had to cross; thinking it would collapse. 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 Lettieís dress shop was across the street. We would visit if she was open. She wasnít 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 Dadís 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

Step Lively!
Masquerade Dance
Monday October 29th

Bill Geder's Colored Peerless Six of Binghamton will be the evening's specialty.
Awards will be made for the two best costumes.

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
Gents $1.25 Ladies 25c

The 1930 federal census for Syracuse, NY enumerated Daddy as the conductor of an Orchestra. Three years later 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 didnít show until 1951. My teenaged siblings werenít thrilled with that manuever.

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 Ďcolored sectioní due to urban renewal. Dad didnít take the baby grand piano. It wouldnít 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 Dadís books, but I didnít have his skills. I also didnít have sense enough to to know that a 10 year old in 1962 wouldnít be listening to the ĎMaple Leaf Ragí.

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 record albums bearing Dadís name. Mom threw them out along with the Philco radio that I think only needed new tubes.

Was Dad thinking about his Ancestors in the hidden photo album? We never saw this collection while he was alive. From 1933 to 1977, amazingly, this album was classified. Our second great grandparents, born in slavery, were there on the tintypes. Their children, our greats, posed proud in their plumes and suits on the postcards.

Mom, born in Williston, South Carolina had childhood memories there of lynched, shot and murdered uncles, a brother thought to have killed a teacher, and a sister thrown in jail for staring at a dress in a shop window. Pearleís spring cleaning would have put that photo album in the trash. She wanted no reminders.

My fatherís 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 motherís 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 Miltonís Grill. What the hell was I thinking?

"Daddy, eat your carrots, doctor's orders"
"When did your sister become a doctor?"
"Dad, you know she's gonna ask."

=====================================
Peace,
"Guided by the Ancestors"


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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