Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #26

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #26

…Po’ Alfrey will be lucky if makes it to 20. Runts don’t last long in the field …

It is here at the train station, that Herbert Love,  the Quincy businessman and newly elected mayor, meets and gets to know Willy and Alfrey, on their only common ground. SlaveryHe has told his wife, who has bore him no children, as well as many of his friends, that he would like to deliver Willy and his house to true freedom.

Today is step one to that end.

“Say Willy,” he signals in the direction of a flatbed car being unloaded of its tobacco leaves, “would you please come her a second?”

Willy Campbell obliges, thankful for a break from the oppressive August heat. He has a gregarious way about him, reminiscent of someone whose ignorance is bliss; not realizing how green the grass is on the other side of the fence.

Henslow’s Sparrow

Young Alfrey has found a Henslow’s Sparrow clinging to the next husks of sugar cane to be loaded on an adjacent car, one wing hanging limp, with the other flapping in futility. He stays behind to tend to the wounded sparrow.

“Your son sure is good with animals, Willy,” Love notes.

“Yessir, he sure does. Takes in ev’ry critter that don’t run away.” Then comes a caveat. “He ain’t worth a tinkers’ damn in the fields, fo’ sure. He’sa runt with his mamma’s heart.”

“There is nothing wrong with that, Willy. The world is expanding, population doubling every 10 years and people are doing things you would never have guessed.” This educated, late middle aged man of some worldliness, tries to transfer his optimism to a black man, aged well beyond his 30 years, who is learned at the school of hard knocks and significant if only to God.

“Po’ Alfrey will be lucky if makes it to 20. Runts don’t last long in the field.” That hopeless resignation is the norm for most blacks anywhere, even some poor unskilled whites here in the South. The native Indians in the panhandle do not even show up on this grim map, shunted into socially isolating reservations; the lucky of those with less than full blood, sprinkled with a little white, a little black, a little Spanish, a little indefinable and more easily absorbed into the general population.

“Well, to be honest, that is precisely why I am here. I want to give you the opportunity to get off Sumter–get away from that Smythwick for good!”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #26


page 25

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #20

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #20

…When two human beings hit it off, female/male in this case, the chemistry can be notable and not easily mistaken…

“You are burning daylight. Lake Killarney ain’t around the corner, Martha, closer to Georgia

Panhandle Dawn

than Tallahassee.” There is genuine concern in John Ferrell’s voice. He loves his family, though the time he spends working helps makes up for a general shortfall of attention given to him.

Perhaps the stabilizing factor in their relational equation is the former Martha Gaskell, eight years his senior. She had already graduated from Vassar College, the all-girl school in Poughkeepsie, when she met an 18 year old Scottish freshman from Columbia University. She is in the big city researching topics at its arts library. Young John has a part-time job as a research assistant. Martha thinks John does a wonderful job. She visits with him frequently, not coincidentally, whenever their paths cross in a library that covers a New York City block.

When two human beings hit it off, female/male in this case, the chemistry can be notable and not easily mistaken. It must be the random nature of the phenomenon, circumstances apart from the machinations of mankind. Sometimes we are much better off leaving it in the hands of the Master. It is heavenly great, and what’s more, a part of a real plan; as plotted by God, who knew us even before we were born.

The attraction is deeply mutual, to the point that Martha is taken home to Florida for a visit. During Christmas break of 1879, she meets his family, who own a small general store in Tallahassee, saving every penny to give their son a chance at a better life, the American dream.

We now find Martha and John embracing, at Christmas in July, 1896, unaccustomed to being apart. They rarely spend a day apart; their four post brass bed with two permanent impressions in its feather mattress.

John Ferrell waves heartily at the cloud of dust speeding away at the machine-driven pace of twelve miles per hour.

Paul Cezanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire (1897)


 Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #20


page 19

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #18

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #18

…Money buys influence and sometimes it prevents liberty…

Guilt-001

Samuel Goldblatt’s resolute agenda is twisted, compared to the governor’s debatable influence.

“When I told the rest that the F.B.I is involved, in the matter of former doctor A.O. Campbell’s release–they are, except it is in a more ‘round about way. They may not object to his release per se, but I know they are greatly disturbed about how many abortions are being illegally performed in this state, which is under your direction, I might add.”

The Visiting Quack Doctor null British School 18th century 1700-1799 Purchased as part of the Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T10122

The Visiting Quack Doctor

“We prosecute more doctors than some,” Hopkins brags mildly.

“No, Governor Hopkins, I believe you indict more quack butchers than you do medical doctors. The Bureau has provided me with some intriguing numbers… accompanied by some interesting names.”

“Is Dr. Sapp on the list?”

   “Yes, indeed, I believe you see my, our point. Most every country doctor does abortions, especially for girls with greenbacks in their lily white hands. I suspect those doctors remember the days when the Dixie dollar dried up. They can’t resist an easy buck, like those from families desperate to save the reputation of their dear sweet daughter.

          “Doc Campbell may have cleaned up after Dr. Sapp, but he was caught in counterfeit circumstances, just like folks who were holding Confederate paper,” he deduces.

“That is a lose interpretation of the law,” insists Hopkins, who should be the expert in this twosome.

“It wasn’t loose when you were States Attorney, now was it?” counters the antagonist.

Yes-buts are not relevant in the here and now. He offers no retort.

“I’ll tell you what, W.D. … may I call you that can I not?” He is sarcastic. “Our hotel will be completed in less than a year. That would be a right fine time for ol’ Doc Campbell to be freed.”

A $1000 bill is stuffed into the breast pocket of his Italian-made suit. That is where Wilbert Hopkins had seen the name of Samuel Goldblatt III before; on the contribution rolls of his gubernatorial campaign.

   Money buys influence. Sometimes it prevents liberty.

Hopkins allows the money to stay in his pocket, but its filthy aura will benefit some charity, not him. He is ashamed to return to the parole meeting and the mostly negative reaction that awaits him there.

Wilbert Dexter Hopkins saves his own skin, at the expense of his conscience.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #18


page 17 (end Ch. 1)

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #14

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #14

…There is no moment so defining/sad as the body lowering into the ground…

“Married?” There is a slight trembling in his voice, reflecting a tinge of unwarranted possessiveness.

“Yeah, an Italian policeman, Amelio is his last name. Nice guy treats her real good too.”

  No Maggie and now no Camille, not that he ever laid claim to the latter, a comely woman of Puerto Rican decent. She was a house cleaner when a much younger A.O. Campbell found his way into her third floor bedroom, with floor length red fringe doorways. The passion they shared was love, but quite different from the comfortable version he has in Tallahassee, with Maggie owning land and buildings and fancy stuff; comfortable indeed.

Still and all, a life with Camille was always lurking in the forbidden shadows of his life. But the shadows are now gone, thick clouds masking the suns of his life.

With respects paid and proper, the funeral of Maggie Lou Campbell has a grim black hearse to the front of the procession, curtained side windows concealing the wood box, which will occupy the freshly dug hole in the Oakland Cemetery. It is a scenic graveyard, for whatever that is worth, but the Campbell 16×16 plot is Spartan, off by itself in a new section, flat and undistinguished. Compared to the grand statues, stones, monuments and vaults of some local families, this newest of holes is among tall grass, not easily to be found in the future, when people will come to pay their respects.

The four score mourners form a crescent ring around the grave, Pastor Johnson and theFuneral-001 prolific arrangements of cut flowers thereabout. There is no moment so defining/sad as the body lowering into the ground. To some, those who choose not to believe in everlasting life, it is like a door that is permanently closed, never to be opened again.  While pagans here are few, the rest feel that when the fresh dug dirt hits the mahogany lid, it is a temporary goodbye.

Yet that very finality weighs heavy on the grieving hearts, eyes burning, immersed in salted tears.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #14


page 14

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #12

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #12

…”I keep this picture with me always,” A.O. relates sadly…

BOOK PIC 6 002

The entire front right pew rises, there to pass in front of the open mahogany casket enveloping the unique blended beauty of Maggie Lou Ferrell Campbell; part Cherokee Indian, part black, part Scot, an Oster mix of unlikely combination. She is dressed in her favorite pale green satin dress; the very one A.O. has given her to wear on Easter Sunday, 1955.

Upon seeing his beloved, so real, so eternally quiet, he turns to his daughters and pulls out a bent picture from his coat saying, “I keep this picture with me always.” It says on the back:

Me and Mrs. Campbell—–Easter Day 1955

The year our tribulations began. At the time,

we had no thought of the gathering storm

that broke loose in August; you see no

apprehension in our faces. Thanks for looking.’

“Mamma’s as beautiful as ever, the way I think of her always,” adds Laura Campbell lovingly. She has been joined by her husband, a late arriver, who actually did care for his mother-in-law, though he betrays her in the present.

“And where have you been, Franklin McLoud? We waited and waited for you. Alpha and Vaughn brought us here and thank God they did, little Laura was crying for her grandpa.”

Children are a good source of guilt.

No answer.excuses

“What could be so important that you could be so late?” Good question.

As if he could explain. He was supposed to be one of the pallbearers.

“The funeral director had to take your end of the casket. Do you know how embarrassin’ that was?” Laura is usually quiet, slow to anger. Had she known the real reason for his absence, the present anger may have turned violent.

He takes his place beside Laura, silently, dutifully and deceitfully.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #12


page 13

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #11

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #11

  …We are here to raise a wonderful woman, wife, mother and human being to meet and be with our Lord and Savior…

Funeral-001

Attending Maggie Lou’s casket are six pallbearers and as well as members of the Strong and Jones Funeral Home, who try to blend in with the proceedings; innocently sticking out with businesslike insincerity, professional mourners, if you will.

Pastor Johnson, on the other hand, could not be more sincere, as if it were his blood sister, instead of sister in Christ, laying still and cold in front of him. He summons the word of God and the courage of David, to properly honor her memory.

BOOK PIC 6 002

A.O. & Maggie Lou

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered this day, a woefully sad day indeed, to raise a wonderful woman, wife, mother and human being to meet and be with our Lord and Savior, who sits at the right hand of God Who reigns in heaven, until the day he comes to judge the living and the dead; the day we believers anxiously await. Our dear Maggie Lou has the privilege to experience this first hand. She is surely a blessed addition to a heaven filled with cherubim and seraphim.”

“Amen, sweet Jesus!” shouts one amongst the many. Pastor Johnson glorifies the Lord most effectively, if not exceedingly.

“A man and Amen to the maker and taker, Father to all, lover of man, Wonderful Counselor!!!” Hands lifted to the heavens, hearts on fire, soaring past cathedral roof and the autumn clouds above.

Pastor adjusts the vest of his three piece suit, runs his hands through his totally gray hair, and corrects his wire rimmed glasses, thereby composing himself as best he can for the rest of the service. It is a memorial observance for the ages.

And even though there are few dry eyes, (the exception displayed mainly by those who attend because of obligation, guilt, or just to be seen) the sincere majority is left with a genuine sense of comfort, verily unsurpassed joy. The past hour has been pure revelation, as they usher Maggie to the steps of Heaven’s Gate.


Alpha Omega M.D.

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Episode #11


page 12

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #4

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #4

… gone are the carefree days in Tallahassee…

Doctor Alpha Omega Campbell is by no way or definition, an imposing man. Accounting for 66 inches of vertical space, balding to a tee, of mixed race to the visual exclusion of all the others, other than Negro, he is warmed by God’s spirit and in no form or manner a threat to anyone except himself. And yet, here he is in prison at Starke, Florida, closer to Gainesville than Tallahassee; seemingly nearer to hell than the Lord of grace.

  If this diminutive groundbreaker could see beyond the bars of incarceration, the world of 1958, one that is lesser for his absence, is a tranquil void, in an otherwise mischievous globe. Rampant unemployment fuels postwar inflation. Nikita Kruschev and Charles de join Dwight Eisenhower, generals all, are world leaders. The Cold War is on.

The United States first satellite orbits the earth, high above the tensions of state or of race, perhaps to relay news of school integration in Little Rock, Arkansas; good news for those in the minority, but not as bad as it should be for those who hide behind white-hooded garments, disguising any real trace of humanity.

Of greater relevance, gone are the carefree days in Tallahassee. On a slow summer’s day, devoid of virus and trauma, a chauffeur driven Cadillac sedan could be taking the Campbell family ensemble to watch tennis lessons, given to the youngest daughter, Zillah, who is preceded by Laura Bell and Alpha (Omega). They too have been tutored by Florida A&M’s coach in a sport not known to many Negroes.

Even more radical perhaps, are the cook and the gardener and the maids, in a grand house that is and was the envy of most folks in the Florida panhandle. It is that very jealousy, of means and possession that have precipitated the doctor’s downfall.

The fact that his dark skin has the hidden hue of a blue blood, will bar his efforts to be with his family this year.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #4


page 5