Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #237

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #237

…the world of 1935 is poorer for the loss of certain folks…

Wash Day 1935, by Phil Dike

… but poor is not a word you would apply to Doctor A.O. and Maggie Lou Campbell. Once Maggie turned 21, back in 1918, a formidable miniature real estate empire had begun. Starting with 61 parcels (which swells to 150 at its peak) of inherited land in and around Tallahassee, it is not long before a power base is established, by of all people, a black family. And even though they travel in both circles, it is with clenched teeth and wrenched hands that the established whites of Florida’s panhandle do so. It is that quiescent force that has and will continue to smolder just beneath the ground that the Campbells tread, whether it is their own ground or not.

And no more evident is this jealous undercurrent than at the time of Laura Bell’s death on a late summer day in 1931.

Flashback-001

  “May I have a few yards of that gingham?” asks Princess Olla Laura Bell, the mother of Maggie Lou Campbell and very much the grand dame of Tallahassee’s Frenchtown. She is a frequent customer of Fenwick’s Fabriques, a fabric shop owned by the seamstress to the wealthy, Sara Fenwick. Laura Bell happens sews her own clothes, as well as her teenaged granddaughters Alpha, Laura and Zillah, though in order for those same fashion conscious girls to actually wear her dresses, she must get the input of Miss Sara, considered to be on the cutting edge of what makes its way west from Paris and south from New York. The Campbell gals are not to be seen in anything that is not contemporary. “Yes, that red un’, Missy Sara. Alpha’s gots a dance to go’ta this’n Saturdee an she dint ax me for a dress til late. I was well pleased to see yo lights burning.”

“Yes, it is late, is it not? I am glad I told my friend Carolyn not to wait supper for me. It seems everyone is looking forward to their autumn wardrobe, though you would not think so with the weather we’ve been having.” She openly invokes the name of her roommate, someone about whom people whisper about. She and Sara are awfully close, close in a way that invites folks to wonder. ‘There is only one bedroom in that house. And have you seen them hold hands? I hear that they learned that in Paris.’

Schiaparelli, Vogue 1935

“I am going to throw in an extra yard so you can make a bolero. Everyone is wearing them,” suggests the attractive and talented clothier, all the while musing what would look best on Alpha Campbell.

“Ain’t heard of that… some kinda hat?” Uninformed does not equal ignorance.

“No, oh no!” Sara leafs through a fashion magazine to find an example. “Here, yes, very close to this,” she points, “but come to think of it, perhaps a rayon print would be better suited. It has been so oppressively hot these days.”

  “You never steer me wrong, Missy Sara. Wrap that up fo me an I’lla be goin. You should goin’ yo ownself. Bad people mull ‘round on steamy nights liken this.”

          “I have one hem to finish and I will be right behind you,” she says with a sweet smile, very much looking forward to getting home…


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #237


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #202

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #202

…I like the picture where he is singing folk songs with the Barrie’s. I can almost hear his out-of-tune voice…

“He was very good at secrets, wasn’t he? A black girl owning half of town,” Martha Ferrell cannot let it go.

James ignores her, continuing, “But from my point of view, there is still more than enough to go around. My God, even Joseph gets a thousand dollars!”

“Sure, now I suppose he will leave me too, he’s got family in Pennsylvania you know.”

My Project 16-001 “Joseph is too old to go off to the North, besides if he did, he’d find out how bad they treat Negroes up there. No, he’s got it good here and he knows it, although I have advised him to buy some land and a little farm of his own.”

     “Are lawyers’ official advice givers as well? You could have a weekly article in the Tallahassee Democrat, people would write in with a question and you would answer them in print. Let me see, something like: ‘Dear Lawyer James; my husband was killed by a U-boat and left half his estate to the illegitimate daughter of our upstairs maid. What should I do?’ signed Scorned Spouse.”

“Do not tempt me,” he thinks, then goes forward, “Dear Scorned Spouse: It sounds like you should have been doing your own laundry and cleaning. Be thankful that she doesn’t own your house. If she does, perhaps you could use a job.”

 “Now that’s not funny!” she protests.

“Speaking of things in print, did you see the last Pearson-Eastman Journal, it just arrived yesterday? Daddy looks so happy, look at him with that golf club,” says son James. Martha points to a picture of Matthew the senior showing John how to hold it, both of them about to split a gut.

I like the one where he is singing folk songs with the Barries. I can almost hear his out-of -tune voice.” The Ferrells did not bring tonality with them when they crossed the Atlantic.

“Looks like he’s full of whiskey to me.”

“These are his last days, Mother. The least you can do is to respect the spirit in which the article is presented. Harv and Judith Pearson certainly do; this magazine and the beautiful eulogy they gave at the funeral.” daughter Agnes has the spirit.

John Ferrell’s spirit is nearer his Lord in Heaven.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Scottish Golfing sign

Episode #202


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #130

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #130

… North on Delaware Street, within eyeshot of Delaware Park/ the Pan-American grounds, is Statlers Hotel; a sprawling 2,100 room melting pot of humanity…

Melting Pot-001

The rest of the eighth floor has already assembled in the lobby of the hotel, which in the evening doubles as foyer for the theater. Tonight’s offering, at the Niagara straight from Broadway, for the duration of the Exposition, is, Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines. In the background, through an opened door, they can hear, “I’m Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines,/ I feed my horse on pork and beans,/ And often live beyond my means,/ I’m a captain in the army.”

Alfrey Campbell laughs heartily at the singing, while Amanda scrambles to cover his ears. “Ain’t never heard nonsense ’afor. Nothin’ for a god-fearin’ chile too hears.”

She may be right, but entertainment is changing and will continue to do so, even though it stretches the moral envelope.

The carriage driver comes to the rescue. Privately, most were wondering what mode of transportation would handle their one dozen numbers. They are escorted to a two tiered horse-car, teamed to two huge draft horses who must weigh two tons together. “Not everybody can sit on top,” warns the teamster. “We will tip over if you do.”

“Let us take Alpha to za top,” asks Doc Ziggy, who is eager to share new experiences with his young protégé. “Momma unt Poppa, you come too. And how about you, Jacob?”

And baby makes six. Properly balanced, except for Frieda and Amanda’s generous girth, they move away from the bustling Niagara for the awaited tranquility of the Statlers Hotel.

Or so they think.

North on Delaware Street, within eyeshot of Delaware Park/ the Pan-American grounds, is the Statlers; a sprawling 2,100 room melting pot of humanity, and filled to capacity at that. This will be their first real taste of the true scope of a hemispherical gathering.

E.M. Statler – Hotelier

“Here we are, folks. That man,” the driver points to a stately gentleman with perceived sense of purpose, “Mister Statler will take you where you want go.”

“We are with President McKinley’s party.” Herb Love logically assumes the lead, while the balance marvels at the sights.

“Yes sirs, you, all of you, are expected in the private dining room. I am your host.”

“Oh how stupid of me, my apologies for not grasping. Ellsworth Milton Statler, I am honored.”

“Please do not feel remiss. I have been mistaken for many a sundry man and occupation. I should to take to wearing a nametag like I require of my staff, but I am afraid I would be an easy target for those few dissatisfied guests. You know, ‘the mattress is too hard’, ‘I don’t like my view’ and the like,” he relates as he ushers them down endless halls. “Just this morning a man from Cuba, I believe, cornered me, wanting the Exposition to turn off the Goddess of Light at night, it keeps his wife awake. Can you imagine? Turn off that centerpiece–I said I would look into it–I lied.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Electric Building PAEX

Episode #130


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #121

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #121

…James and especially Abbey are conspicuously Southern, which at times is looked down upon by the Northern mainstream…

Authentic-001

Just about everybody the newlyweds know in Leon and Gadsden Counties of Florida is being “railroaded” to the Pan-American Exposition by a fast-friend, President William McKinley; a friendship forged by tribulation and hardened by trustworthiness. The Exposition is a grand global event and the host would like his friends to share it with him.

“Must you always be so pragmatic, James?” Abigail’s husband has few flaws, but ever since his sights have been set on the future, the present seems generally trivial. “Loosen your tie, my love, and attempt to enjoy yourself. After all, the memories we hold of our honeymoon are soiled by the last few days. Let us have an early second honeymoon.”

“Can we ride the Ferris Wheel, can we?” he pleads like a five year old.

“This will be a cultural event, silly, not a circus!” she insists with her Southern charm, re-manifesting itself as it tends to do. James and especially Abbey are conspicuously Southern, which at times is looked down upon by the Northern mainstream. Fortunately, their university environment shields them from blatant prejudice.

Two Trunks

“Remember, there is a two trunk limit, so leave some room for my things… and keep in mind that we will be away for three days, not three months.” James knows his wife well. She is easily the finest dressed woman on campus and would give Boston’s best a run for their money. In fact, nearly a half of their apartment stowage is occupied by dresses for every possible occasion.

“It is a girl’s responsibility to be ever at her best.”

“And you are.” He takes her warmly in his arms, fully realizing what a gem he has in her. No one will ever turn his head, for if they did, psychiatric treatment may be in order.


Alpha Omega M.D.

North vs South

Episode #121


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #96

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode # 96

…Thankfully, with due respect to the dear departed Mr. Finkle, there are still a score of guests waiting in line; Edna is prompted to shuffle off to food and drink…

Meanwhile

In the receiving line after James & Abigail’s wedding

“Are you going on a wedding holiday?” asks Edna Finkle, one of the Ferrell Groceries’ first Edna Finkle-001and most loyal customers, thus deemed longtime observer of the Ferrell family saga.

“Yes, Mrs. Finkle. We are taking the train to New Orleans. It sounds like an exciting city.”

“Oh my, yes, I should say. I remember when Mr. Finkle was alive; we spent a month there one week,” as opposed to when he was dead. “It is a spicy town though, filled with people that seem to defy the conventional.”

They are kind to the eighty-something woman, if for no other reason than she is a walking billboard for their stores; gladly singing the praises, all the while during her weekly four hour assembling of her week’s worth of goods.

“We will be staying at the Vieux Carre …………”

“The Olde Square, my yes. Mr. Finkle so loved the food in that part of town. I believe we left before the yellow fever outbreak, you know, back in 1878.” The well-meaning elderly woman is doing nothing to help the Crescent City’s unhealthy reputation, but youngsters have an air of invulnerability about them, tending to ignore danger, in exchange for adventure.

Thankfully, with due respect to the dear departed Mr. Finkle, there are still a score of guests waiting in line; she is prompted to shuffle off to food and drink. “I’ll take one of those, sonny.” She is handed a glass of champagne, grabbing a back-up, claiming, “I cannot stay long— close to my bedtime, you know.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode # 96


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #95

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #95

…In the time it takes to land a mother lode bass, Reverend Watkins gladly introduces Mr. and Mrs. James Ferrell to his temporary and mixed congregation…

Wedding Bells-001

In the time it takes to land a mother lode bass, something Reverend Watkins knows something of, he gladly introduces Mr. and Mrs. James Ferrell to his temporary and mixed congregation. And unlike the new game of baseball, where raucous players and fans protest the umpire’s questionable judgment by booing and perhaps defaming his mother, these proceedings conclude with polite applause; though there is a noticeable gap between Agnes Ferrell’s white satin gloves, her heart not being quite right.

oddsOn the other hand, Martha and John are delighted, seemingly reborn in each other. It was not this way two days ago, which would point to the existence of miracles. So wide was the chasm between them, that the distance earth and the sun seemed closer.

Martha’s catatonic comportment, a distant empty stare, has wound itself up like a spring loaded retractable shade. She has pulled herself together for Abbey, the girl’s only mother figure.

Likewise, John seems to have set aside his other world, Laura and Maggie Lou apparently on the way to a stable life of their own. In the reception line they are fourth and third from the end, a line punctuated by the newlywed couple.

    Chances are no one would have predicted this good looking and happy sequence of people, back as late as 1896, when Abigail Smythwick was a daughter of one of the last plantation owners in the Panhandle, James was pegged as a better candidate for the priesthood than a career in law, John Ferrell’s amorous tryst made him a better candidate for “Adulterer of the Year” and Martha’s ignorance of her husband’s doings and daughter’s taboo love interest nearly cost her her sanity.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #95


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #93

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #93

…The wedding of James and Abigail is one of the regions’ grander events and caps-off a summer of millennial nuptials…

Today is a good day to begin anew, a red letter day, making promises that you are expected to keep, be it to yourself or another.

Poor Abigail, if only she could be a fly on the wall or perhaps a tree. She may be more adamant about her betrothed stated devotion in the ceremony to come. She is about to become an innocent pawn in an ongoing game she does not know how to play.

Enough of the ignoble details. Nobody here would be interested… well, maybe they would, but for the purposes of propriety, ignorance is the watchword.

Reverend Watkins

Reverend Watkins, a Negro preacher of some renown, brings the festivities to order by announcing, “This is a day that the Lord our God has ordained. We gather here, on this wonderful day, to join James and Abigail and Abigail to James, completing a union that is rooted from the first man and woman. But unlike Adam and Eve, the Mother and Father of us all, these young people will not taste of the forbidden fruit. They will treasure each other, like God treasures his creation.”

The reference to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is the marker that set the liturgy in motion. James takes his place at the altar, watching the three sets of attendants, followed directly by his father. The congregation of accomplices is topped off by the most radiant bride anyone will ever see.20th Century-001

One and all are turned around in their chairs to watch the bride, craning to view and review. This is one of the regions’ grander events and caps-off a summer of new-millennial nuptials, reducing the others to insignificance,

Phoebe Love is one of those interested onlookers,  seated alongside the Campbells. The Quincy mayor’s wife has not seen a single wedding this year. Neither have these elite attendees seen a Negro family, headed by Willy and Amanda, shoulder to shoulder with them—

NOT in the rear of the back.

The Wilson’s and Lewis’ accept this social integration, however grudgingly, ever so slightly squirming in their judgment chairs. It is hard to completely shed a century of prejudice, though they will keep wearing their game face.

Ironically, there is not a man or woman more genuinely happy to be there than Willy Campbell. He has watched the bride grow up, all the way from the tragic death of her mother at birth, up to the morning after the night of infamy, when they learned of her father’s unkind demise.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #93


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