Friday, September 23. We drove three hours (getting lost twice – my fault) to Pineville, SC to surprise my sister Lottie. Her ninetieth birthday is our reason for going South. We went through an elaborate charade to convince her we couldn’t come – didn’t have the money. I called on her birthday two days before. I sent a locket with pictures of her and me and a card wishing we could be there. Our arrival: anti-climatic. She just had a hunch we wouldn’t miss her special day regardless of what anyone said.
Then off to North Charleston for dinner with Trena Haskell – late. We didn’t get close to dinner until after seven. We spent the night with Trena. But there was a surprise – for Trena’s son Ryan. He didn’t want to disturb us, so he stayed with a friend. When he walked in at six o’clock Saturday morning, here was this towsled, white woman standing in the middle of his livingroom saying, “Aren’t you coming in a little late.”
Saturday, September 24. St. Stephen, SC is about an hour from North Charleston. We arrived early to set up for a book signing at New Covenant Baptist Church at 10:00 AM. The pastor of New Covenant is Trena’s father and I met him in 1965. He was the president of the NAACP then. Here’s where I wish I’d already told you about our marketing efforts – which included personal notes to everyone from the area I knew on Facebook, e-mails to everyone I knew who weren’t on Facebook. I sent flyers to those I only had snail mail for, to high schools, colleges, middle schools, and museums. I sent out press releases to newspapers. I had friends sending out flyers. The book sale was online with a Christian website. There was a radio announcement. And the best way to contact people in a black neighborhood is through the churches – which we did. About 15 people arrived, which was disappointing in terms of numbers. But, the smaller audience made it possible for me to spend more time with each person – two of whom lived across the street from us in 1965. They were skinny little kids then, but have grown up for sure!
Lottie’s birthday party took up the evening! More later.
Sunday, September 25. Sleep and visiting with family.
Monday, September 26. Pineville to Columbia, state capital, arriving by 11:30 AM. (Late again) Event: Rotary Club meeting. This is the largest Rotarian group in the Southeast. Our host: Warner Montgomery, retired publisher and owner of the Columbia Star newspaper. (Joe had to wear a coat and tie!) Guest speaker – Joel Lourie, South Carolina State Senator.
We moved into Henry and Em’s home for three days. Henry is Lottie’s brother. Dinner with Warner Montgomery and his wife Linda.
Tuesday, September 27. A shirt and tie luncheon at the Capital City Club – a private establishment in downtown Columbia on the 25th floor with views of the entire city. (Coat and tie!) Host: Warner Montgomery. He explained that the folks he chose for the luncheon were the most liberal folks in Columbia! We made exciting contacts and sold some books.
Shirt and tie dinner at the Capital City Club. Event: a Torch Club meeting. Host: Warner Montgomery. We made more contacts, laughed lots and sold some books.
Wednesday, September 28. Event: speaking at the Shepherd Center. Host: Warner Montgomery. By this time we began to realize how fattening life on the road can be.
Thursday, September 29. I was interviewed by Don Frierson of WGCV radio.
Back to Pineville for some quiet time with Lottie. The weekend of her birthday was full of folks coming and going – and a slumber party of folks.
Friday, September 30. After an almost tearful good-bye we were on the road for Greenville, SC. Motel, martini, potato skins and asleep.
Saturday, October 1. Home via Chicago.
I know, it’s a list, but there is more to come.