AfriGeneas Writers Forum
Re: Pearle - slight rewrite
In Response To: Re: Pearle ()
Regina and Family,
I wanted to address those two paragraphs where Pearle got 'lost' in the story. I also tried to tighten up some other areas.
I Wonder as I Wander;
Pearle Hancock Geder
Pearle Hancock Geder
We moved from the 'colored' section of Binghamton to the south edge of town. My new backyard was open fields, wild orchards, woods and a creek. Mom's voice had to reach across the horizon to get my attention. At age 5 I was allowed to drift nearly a quarter mile away. The year was 1956.
There were few African Americans in Saratoga Terrace . For a while I was the only black kid in my age group. My pals were Jewish, Italian and Irish. We hopped trains, explored abandoned barns, floated rafts down the Susquehanna River and pricked fingers to become 'blood brothers'. Mom was pleased at my making friends.
Pearle was an adolescent when she moved to New York State from her birthplace in Williston, South Carolina. It would be years later, after high school in fact, that I would learn of Mom’s childhood. It was much later that I learned what it was like to be a HANCOCK in the 1920’s South.
When Pearle was about 9, she witnessed her sister (Aunt Sadye) being thrown in the holding pen for staring at a dress in a 'for whites only' shop window. Jack Hancock, their father, and a couple of uncles broke in, fired their pistols and got her out. They were left alone as they went home.
Things got progressively worse for this sharecropping family. One of her brothers (Uncle Robert) had to flee Williston as it was thought he had killed his teacher. Actually he hit him, knocked him out and didn't hang around to see if he got up. He didn’t look back until he got to Buffalo, New York.
Two uncles were murdered; one shot and placed on railroad tracks, the other shot and submerged in a horse trough. Another was shot eight times (he died some thirty years later with those same slugs still in him). Pearle’s uncles were gamblers and bootleggers. Jack wasn’t. In the early 1920's, he took his family North.
My second grade teacher wouldn't call on me when I raised my hand. Pearle would visit Benjamin Franklin Elementary school and straighten that out. In the third grade, we read 'Little Black Sambo' aloud. Pearle was in the classroom monitoring the teacher the next day. The curriculum changed and we never saw that book again.
Mom would make an appearance at least once every report card period, taking a seat in the back of the classroom. She would bring cookies or cupcakes on those occassions when other parents also brought treats for us. I certainly had to behave in class– and so did all my teachers through the sixth grade.
By the time I entered junior high Mom had grown weary of this. She taught me enough to fight my own battles. I remember one lesson. If they throw a stone, you pick up a rock; if they pick up a rock, you pick up a brick. My Hancock blood stops short at using pistols.
Pearle never told me about her uncles. She never told me that her father perished in the famous 1928 hurricane in Florida. She never kept in touch with her South Carolina relatives. I would not learn of my Hancock ancestry until I spent time with Uncle George in 2003. My namesake was Mom’s favorite sibling.