Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #66

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #66

…We’re almost at the Ferrells and alls we got left is couple bottles of milk, a block of ice and one lonely box of cigars…

Love Dairies-001

For those along the delivery route to Tally and back, they see what looks like lifelong business partners, pursuing the same goal. Together, the unlikely pair comprises one of the greatest natural hedges against prejudice that exists in the post-Civil War Florida, let alone the remaining rebel states.

Willy Campbell, for all his many travails, is younger than he may seem. The life of a slave is an arduous one, the hard work and sun taking a preemptive toll on his physical appearance. There is a 15 year difference in age of the two men, but you wouldn’t know it or even guess who is older, although he has never been more content. If nothing else, he feels younger.

 “Ain’t that sumpin’, Mr. Love? We’re almost at the Ferrells and alls we got left is couple bottles of milk, a block of ice and one lonely box of cigars,” Willy counts as their wagon rocks forth and back down the dusty road.

“Which is what we had to save back for samples,”Love Dairies2-001 Love reminds, thinking about all the potentiality of this trip. “Heck, if we had brought a gross of cigars and the milk from ten cows we could have sold them. In fact, I am going to make this a weekly trip. I hope we can figure out a back-haul.”

“Maybe Mr. Ferrell will have sumpin’ to take back with us,” Willy speculates.

“So right good fellow.” Herbert is so comfortable in the company of this responsible and reliable man. “Would you be willing to make this run every week? It would be a good way to end the week and we would be well stocked to meet possible increases in demand.”

    “Make sense to me, good way to see the country,” concludes a man who had seen precious little beside Fort Sumter South for much of his life.

“We are an hour late for our appointment, Willy,” Love worries. “I hope John Ferrell will not be put off.”

Their initial entrepreneurial venture to Tallahassee takes more time than they had guessed. Even though they started before the break of dawn, it is already 1:00 P.M. and they have but pre-winter daylight with which to operate; only six hours to make it back to Quincy.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Map-001

Episode #66


page 61

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode 65

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #65

… “Alfrey is a bright boy, Willy. He will do well at whatever he does.” Love means what he says. Unfortunately for Willy, cigar making may be setting his sight too low….

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“That is it, by golly! Picture this: Our five-pack cigars in a box with a window to view them and a picture of you standing proudly beside one of your seven foot tobacco plants. We will call them Loyal Campbells——get it? Royal Melbournes and Loyal Campbells!” Herbert Love can see it plain as day.

Loyal Campbells-001

Willy responds modestly, partly because he has never seen a picture of himself, only reflections on glass or other shiny objects. The artist rendition that Herbert Love has in mind will nearly immortalize Willy Campbell, the very essence of tobacco growers in America.

“I knows you will do right by me, sir,” he correctly trusts, “and can we take Alfrey with us when we call on the Ferrells? Ima tryin to light a fire under him, not much inerested in tobacco, caint figure out a direction.”

“He is a bright boy, Willy. He will do well at whatever he does.” Love means what he says. Unfortunately for Willy, cigar making may be setting his sight too low.

“Say, for tomorrow, let’s load half the wagon with ice and half with milk. No use wasting a trip.” Ever the consummate businessman, he figures that before they get to Hillside Estate, Love Dairies-001they will be stopped by folks wanting and needing what the wagon holds. With an eye to the future, as soon as Herbert can devise a better mode of transportation, he is toying with delivering house to house, not just store to store.

The next day, someone who flirts with the top of the world and his protégé, someone who has previously flirted with inconsequentiality, join forces for an exploratory mission of marketing and good will. Neither man is aware of all the possible ramifications of the trip, across rough roads and many stops along the way, leading to an end only God himself knows of the conclusion.

For those along the way, they see what looks like to lifelong partners, pursuing the same goal. Together, they comprise one of the greatest hedges against prejudice that exists in the post-Civil War Florida, let alone the remaining rebel states.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #65


page 60

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #64

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #64

…That is it, by golly, picture this: Our five-pack cigars in a box with your name on the box…

Loyal Campbells-001

Cigar smoking, a practice with its beginnings much earlier this century, has achieved a loyal following, with the finest brown cylinders coveted greatly. You can hardly get your hands on a Royal Melbourne, Savannah Cigar’s flagship product. Smokers freely part with a single sawbuck for this aromatic creation that literally disappears goes up in smoke.

“Willy, I think we should take this new product of yours around, you know and sell it to stores like, say, Ferrell Grocery. They have three stores and two hundred professorial types thereabout, sure bets as new consumers,” suggests Herbert Love, whose only vice is consuming that which he speaks of, sampling the smaller cigar, a less expensive version that will have wider appeal and marketability.

    Willy Campbell has blossomed under the tutorship of Herbert Love. What a glorious opportunity and what a gaudy difference one short year can make. November 1897 finds him and his family living in a completely different world; breathing the same Panhandle air through nostrils of freemen.

“But I ain’t made but a couple of these nor got a name for dem yet.” He is worried that things are going too fast, still haunted by stifling self doubt.

“We could sell them in bulk at first. That would mean wrapping them in cellophane individually. I know I said they look tempting in boxes of five and they will,” Love promises. “As for a name, we will not make the mistake R.J. Reynolds made. Dutch Masters–what a perfectly tasteless name for a cigar.”

“Yessir, fo sure an they ain’t made by hand, union made, by fancy machine I hear.”

“Good point, Willy. We may never be the biggest, but we will make the best. That is what keeps our customers loyal…” He stops mid-thought, an idea overtaking him. “That is it, by golly! Picture this: Our five-pack cigars in a box with your name on the box. We will call them Loyal Campbells——get it? Royal Melbournes and Loyal Campbells!”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Savannah Cigars-001

Episode #64


page 59

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #51

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #51

…Fort Sumter South looks like the countryside of Gettysburg, the day after the battle…

Fort Sumter3-001

The Fall of Fort Sumter South

The road back to Tallahassee runs right past Sumter South, at least close enough to Delivery Truck-001see the Mansion far in the distance. Herbert Love precedes the Ferrell Grocery “Freedom Express” in a Love Dairy & Ice wagon, loaded with supplies. He needs to reach the plantation ahead of the truck, if the smoke screen is to work, that is. Just what kind of reception he will get, when he gets there, is up in the air.

As he approaches the area, a thick black haze hangs thirty feet above the ground. Upon closer view, every structure is flattened. Even the grand three story main house stands amid the smoke. It is a sad scene for foes and friends alike. An evil empire has been reduced to ash and rubble; never in anyone’s wildest dreams.

Oddly, there is no person, white or black, to be seen. Farm animals wander unattended, cattle or horse not knowing what to do in area unfamiliar. It looks like the countryside of Gettysburg, the day after the battle, without the military corpsmen on both sides searching for anyone who may still be alive.

That was the view from the road. Love steers his ice wagon down the lane leading to the main house. Magnolia trees line the way, paired every twenty feet. How fragrant this path must be in spring. The team of horses is reined down to a slow pace, no urgency is indicated. Every appearance points to complete vacancy.

About mid-drive he hears the whimpering of a female cry. Where she is is not as obvious. He applies the wagon’s brake and dismounts to investigate, having seen nothing from his higher perch. After a minute of silence, sobs reemerge but not from the ground, rather from among the large leaves of one of the magnolias he was passing under. Peering up the trunk, he discovers a girl, adolescent he guesses, huddled in the crotch of the tree’s largest limb. She is wearing only a yellow nightie, a sure sign that she fled the mansion in a rush.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #51


page 48

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #48

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #48

… At Hillside Estate, Martha has a payroll of three, for duties in her house, grounds thereabout and a flower garden that puts other botanical creations to shame…

The elimination of slavery has proven to be a difficult task, one that mere laws of emancipation could not do and whose foothold is so strong that only the flood of generations will launder it from the stained fabric of the few.

The holder of the final and most rewarding segment of Escape from Fort Sumter South is prepared to do her part.

Martha Ferrell does little laundry these days. In pre-Civil War days, house slaves would clean the clothes of their masters, toiling in an unappreciated reward less cycle of work, work and more of the same. There are no labor laws protecting the length of work days or the minimum age of the person doing the work.

At Hillside Estate, Martha has a payroll of three, for duties in her house, grounds thereabout and a flower garden that puts other botanical creations to shame. John Ferrell needs four men to tend the stable, barns and fields. Their spread of 500 acres is one/tenth the size of Fort Sumter South, requiring less staff, but producing barely enough revenue to make Hillside a viable estate. However, unlike Sumter’s two hundred, the seven Negroes under the Ferrell watch are paid; a monthly sum that allows for autonomy, to live in houses of their own doing, in the enclave of the free.

A horse of a different color is an entire newly freed family like there will be soon. And though the Campbell sojourn is to be temporary, no act of kindness can ever be more sincere. The former slaves will be properly clothed and rested in preparation for a future in the considerable empire that is Herbert Love. On San Luis Lake they holiday, in Quincy they will thrive.


Alpha Omega M.D.

San Luis Lake-001

Episode #48


page 45

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #38

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #38

Chapter Three

CHANGES

…Jacob Haley must take a dismaying trip into his ancestor’s past; regressing from educated free man to undercover freedman…

Undercover-001

  In subtropical climes, there are seasons of change, though these exchanges fade in and out, making it hard to distinguish one from the other. The autumnal equinox supplants the warm slothfulness of summer; the latter reluctant in coming, the former resistant in leaving.  DawnToDusk

The harvesting of crops decides the issue of transition. It is a call to action, plant maturation and ripening that warns the grower, ‘Use me or lose me’. Land activity increases three-fold, with so many different related things going on. Only the infirm of body are spared from the dawn to dusk work load.

At Fort Sumter South, infirmity is no excuse, much as it was for the Hebrews building the monuments to the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Some die as reward for their efforts, then and now.

The rigor of reaping takes its toll on the overseer as well. In time and energy spent, supervisors sleep as deep as the workers. That is exactly what Jacob Haley and his unlikely group of liberators are counting on.

Rescue-001Anti-slavery-001The Gadsden County Anti-slavery Society has used the forty-some days since Willy Campbell decided to take the leap of faith, to consent to be liberated, to its best advantage. Freedom is scary for a cigar maker who has no idea of what to expect from his liberty. The freedom fighters fear anything but success.

seasons

seasons of change

All the pieces are in place, all except Jacob Haley, who must take a dismaying trip into his ancestor’s past; regressing from educated free man to undercover freedman, without the support of Congressional amendment. His clothing, duties and speech will not, in any way match the life he has lived up to now, save the blended color of his skin. He is about to penetrate a world (undercover) that would paralyze most people of any race, creed, or disfranchised lot.

Courage is a term that comes to mind, the very same that caused him to stay in the South, rather than migrate northward. Segregation exists in both worlds, but he will effect greater change here at its cruel source.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #38


page 36

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #37

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #37

…I do not want my son courting a slave owner’s daughter…

“I find that man more repulsive every time I have to see him!” Harsh words from Phoebe Love, a Godly woman with a good and quiet spirit.

“Maybe that punch is doing his talking,” suggests Martha, “we may have put in too much of the ‘recipe’.”

“Pardon me, no, Mrs. Ferrell, but a man who still keeps slaves garners no sympathy from me.”

Most anyone can tell you that when you want to Martha Ferrell’s lamp lit bring up the subject of slavery. A visitor to their Hillside Estate once made the mistake of referring to her servants as slaves. ‘I beg your pardon, but our people are paid employees and are free to leave any time they choose, though none have. And furthermore we have people of all colors come to our farm and our store seeking work nearly every day, but we cannot hire them all. We keep them on a list and if a position becomes available, the most qualified person gets the job.’ You’ve been warned about getting her started on the subject of slave versus servant. This has been a condensed version on that theme. 

Martha maintains her relative decorum, the time and place not synchronized to withstand her usual ardor, merely stating, “I am going to ask that lout to leave!” decorum with an edge.

“You cannot un-invite people, dear,” insists her husband.

“And I do not want my son courting a slave owner’s daughter!”

“You cannot undo the affairs of the heart,” he reasons.

“I will be his undoing, mark my word!” The flushness of her face is masked by her overly rouged cheeks.

Herbert Love takes the flustered Ferrell aside to confide and comfort her. “You can be assured that there are many folks of like-mind with you.”   

“But I…”

“…of like mind with you, with the will and the power to do something about it.”

      “Are you from that vigilante gang about which I have heard and if so, can I join you?”

“Vigilante is a harsh term, Mrs. Ferrell, but we will be in touch with you. I would keep the night of 4 October and the following morning free.”

Masked by the merriment, secrets, whispers and strategies are discussed as “The Band Played On”.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #37


page 35 (end Ch. 2)