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


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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)

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #35

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #35

 The Boston Pops is playing the Summer Cotillion, an eleven year old offshoot of the Boston Symphony, renowned for their diverse repertoire…

Perhaps the most foresight is used in the choice of music for the highbrow occasion. Early opinion is running unanimously boffo, irrespective of age or gender.

 The Boston Pops is an eleven year old offshoot of the Boston Symphony, renowned for their repertoires, of everything from popular songs such as, “A Hot Time in the Old Town” and, “When the Saints Come Marching In”. Partygoers can waltz in 3/4 time to Strauss the Elder or croon: ‘and you look so sweet on the seat of a bicycle built for two’. They are here in Florida to entertain town folk.

One of the late arrivers to the festivities are Herbert Love and his wife, Phoebe. They are most known for their philanthropy, not the socialite scene, but in this case, their presence is necessary nonetheless.

xxx

“Why I do declare, are you not, Mayor Quincy from Love County?” inquires a misguided resident of the planet Florida, whose navigation is clouded by the early influence of Grandma Ferrell’s spiked punch.

“Yes I am,” he confirms. The woman just happens to scramble the particulars inside out.

Martha and John happen to see the Loves make their appearance, with its inauspicious beginning and act to rescue them from further embarrassment.

Love Dairies2-001“Please excuse us, Miss Millie. Mayor Love needs to sign the guestbook.”

“Don’t you mean Mayor Quincy…?”

They whisk the Loves away. Mission accomplished.

“Many thanks, John, Martha. But, I hope you have a tamer variety of punch.”

“Oh my, yes,” assures Martha, whose intention was not to turn the Cotillion into a saloon free-for-all.

“That milk-in-bottles is selling like hot cakes, Herbert. In fact, we would like to raise our order by full case at each store each delivery,” requests John, representing Ferrell Groceries three markets, intending to carefully change the subject.

“I told you that as soon as we could keep it cold enough, milk would be available for purchase at stores.” It is plain to the most casual observer that these two excellent businessmen are on the same page. Integrity and innovation are words that come to mind.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #35


page 33

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #33

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #33

… Women cannot be presidents, my dear, too temperamental. ” proclaims old Jefferson. “Chairwomen, I would say, but not president…

Capitol Building Tallahassee Florida

The long awaited and much anticipated Summer Cotillion, as presented by the Tallahassee Junior Women’s Club (Mrs. John Ferrell president and committee chairman) has finally arrived. Members and guests are filing into the Grand Ballroom of the State Capitol Building, hungry for a holiday, seeing that Independence Day is more of a Northern thing. Independence has escaped many of those south of the Mason-Dixon Line, a way of preserving a lifestyle that flies in the face of those who comprise the majority in the Union.

If you find yourself not attending this function, you are bedridden, diseased, or socially invisible. Politicians are there to press the flesh. City fathers snuggle up to the politicians. Women are there to be seen. Men are there to see as much as they can. Debutantes aspire to social heights, while their male counterparts are like kids in a candy shop.

All in all, it is a great excuse to dress up and rub elbows with folks infrequently seen in this primarily horse and buggy paced world.

Those attracting the most attention, in this buffet of mostly beautiful people, are the Midway and Quincy contingents.

It may seem unlikely, but shy James Ferrell will be the icebreaker between the two diverse communities. He is also the moth to Abigail Smythwick’s flame. As soon as she and her father make their entrance, young James lights on the budding belle, even though he had never met her father, a churlish figure whose gray long-tailed jacket reeks of Confederate indolence, sans medals and rank markings.

“Father, I would like to introduce, James Ferrell. His mother is the president of the Tallahassee Women’s Club. They are putting on this grand event.” She boasts of a potential beau’s credence.

“Women cannot be presidents, my dear, too temperamental,” proclaims old Jefferson. “Chairwomen, I would say, but not president.”

James fails to object, rather extending his hand, “It is an honor to meet you, sir.”

The clenching of hands nearly buckles the younger’s knees.

“My daughter speaks so highly of you, being of good stock, with healthy Scottish roots. Anglo-Saxon people are the backbone of the globe.”

“I did not tell you he was Scottish, Daddy.” She is ignored.

“She tells me you are interested in law.”

“Yessir.” James is still massaging feeling into his right hand fingers. “Constitutional law is my true passion.”

“Laws are intended to protect the weak. The United States Constitution does the same. Perhaps you will be able to correct these unfair advantages in the course of your endeavors.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #33


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #32

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #32

…Remember Sara and Abram of the Bible, rumor has it that she came late John – she is only fifteen…

The Tallahassee Junior Women’s Club Summer Cotillion is this very night.

“Abigail Smythwick is going to be there.” Agnes knows the reason for her brother’s sudden cooperation. She is the daughter of Jefferson Smythwick, born in his sixth decade to the silence of her mother’s still heart.

“I almost forgot that we sent invitations to Midway and Quincy. They are not as refined as we are, you know, though Abigail’s daddy owns much land thereabouts,” Martha offers what she knows. “Is she pretty, how old is she, does she have any manners?”

“Yes in her own quaint way, fifteen I believe and I hope so, though she did not have a mother to help her.” Daughter fills in the blanks.

John Ferrell adjusts his new bow tie, as he walks by.

Fort Sumter3-001“John, sugar, do you know a Mister Smythwick from Midway?”

“Why do you ask?” he asks – a wondering.

“It seems that your son James has a fancy for the Smythwick girl. She will be at the cotillion this night and I do not want to appear ignorant of our neighbors to the west,” like it was a world away instead of 15 miles.

“Fort Sumter South, wealthy, quite old, I thought… his daughter would be forty. Has James taken a fancy for women the age of his mother?”

“Remember Sara and Abram of the Bible? Rumor has it that she came late John, she is only fifteen!”

He prefers to keep what he really knows about the man to himself. Why upset Martha by raising the still broiling subject of slavery. Her lectures, planned or spontaneous, about the difference between slaves and servants are legendary. They can wear a person out.

“Oh, I see. You mean like Mother Nature’s joke on a woman who has assumed her child Continuedbearing years are decades behind her?”

“That is a cruel way to put it,” she admonishes, “especially since her mother died giving birth.”

“That is too bad, I’m afraid,” John says, snatching his watch fob from out his vest pocket. “Say, we best be going, that’s if you want to set the tables before everyone arrives.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #32


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #31

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #31

… James Ferrell would rather study schoolwork than dance with adolescent debutantes who ‘have all the sense that God gave the Dodo bird’, as he puts it…

Silly Girls

By the grace of God, and a little luck, August 21 does arrive as scheduled.

The entire day is dedicated to preparing for the Cotillion, which includes the making of Grandma Ferrell’s special punch, whose secret ingredient is rumored to be the state of Georgia’s best XXX hoochinoo. The thirty gallon stainless steel milk can mixture should go a long way to assure a good time will be had by all, should they sample even one innocent glassful.

Juicing the fresh Florida oranges, peaches and grapefruit was the hardest part of the process, but that was done two fermenting months ago. The carbonated ginger ale and phos-ferrates are added just this day, as volume fillers; so sweet and so lethal.

Primping occupies the remaining three hours, most importantly to the females. However, the annual struggle with James Ferrell to get in the proper spirit, disappoints all in the family, though shocking none. He is actually a girl magnet, which may explain his reticence, because he would rather study for the upcoming school year than dance than dance with adolescent debutantes who ‘have all the sense that God gave the Dodo bird’, as he puts it.

This year, his 16th, resistance to his suit of clothes seems curiously mild, not the chest thumping bravado that may disguise changes that show signs of his coming of age.

  Martha Ferrell reminds her son but once. “Miracles never cease to amaze,” she tells Agnes, who is clinching the corset that shrinks the woman’s waist by two full inches.

Abigail Smythwick is going to be there.” Agnes knows the reason for her brother’s sudden cooperation. She is the daughter of Jefferson Smythwick, born in her father’s sixth decade to the silence of her mother’s dying heart (during childbirth).


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #31


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #30

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #30

… Princess  Olla holds up the Paris creation against her body, not about to let on that she herself has spent time wearing it…

Cotillion dress

That same Friday night, in the less contentious environs of Tallahassee, society’s’ finest prepare for tomorrow and the anticipated Summer Cotillion. It unofficially marks the average annual easing of the “lazy days”, as the sun mercifully starts to drop from its zenith overhead. Shadows begin to lengthen and the dogs come out from under their back porches.

Martha Ferrell prepares for the event by unpacking her favorite gown, first checking for damage from last year’s gala, i.e. footprints on the hem from ballroom challenged partners, or traces of champagne and hors d’oeuvre or third most likely culprit, moth-eaten holes. Lastly, and most important of all, the issue of whether her almost five gallons fits into this three gallon (satin) container.

“What do you think, Agnes?” She does an awkward pirouette in the dress, tailored for her six years ago; a present honoring her fortieth year.

“Maybe we could let out the sleeves some. It looks tight above the elbows.”

“Yes I think you are right.” She confirms the mirror’s reflecting truth, without vain regret.

Agnes is wearing a gown that her mother wore the year before she was born. She has matured at an scary rate, nearly… no definitely surpassing mom’s womanhood; filling in the spaces and providing the kind of cleavage that may well cause the hormone levels of men aged twelve to infinity to rise measurably.

“My, haven’t you blossomed, my dear. Girls are developing faster every year, it seems,” Martha concludes correctly.

Two generations of “real” women are joined by an admirer of both.

“Why Nessie, I remember your mamma when she wore that dress, her first Cotillion I reckon. So beautiful and so graceful,” He muses, then reconsidering, “But you better wait some years before you become a mother. If you weren’t my daughter, I would guess you for a twenty year old college girl.  You are saving yourself, aren’t you?”

“Oh, Daddy,” Agnes (Nessie) blushes, which rhyme with messy, a nickname, as well as her bedroom comportment, “of course I am. You don’t allow me to have suitors!”

Cotillion dress“All right, point well stated.” She is behind many of her peers and he knows it. “It’s just that you look so grown up.” John turns his attention to his wife. “And as for you my dearest, forget about altering your dress.” He peeks around the corner, into the hall to motion to Olla. “I think this one will assure of being belle of the ball.”

  Olla displays the Paris creation, this time merely holding it up against her body, not about to let it be known that it was her own very skin which spent time as Martha’s surrogate mannequin.

The new owner rushes to it, stroking the rose colored satin, admiring the Parisian lace and trying not to shed tears of joy.

The incredible irony of the moment is lost on the ignorant.

  • “Oh mother, you must try it on straight away,” encourages Agnes.
  •  Before she obliges, Martha turns to say, “John Ferrell, life with you is one big surprise.”
  •  John Ferrell is telling himself, ‘Wheeewww, I’m sure glad she will never know the truth’.
  •  Princess Olla/Laura Bell mutters, “Surprises ain’t always good ones, Miss Martha,” under her breath.

Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #30


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #28

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #28

… members  of GCASS come from all walks of life, ages, backgrounds and beliefs; eager, everyone, to join a band of principled folk heroes…

Anti-slavery organizations have been in existence since before the War Between the States. This one in Gadsden County Florida is sneaky, if not low-down & dirty. They are so smart and clever, that nary a person in the Panhandle knows who’s in and who isn’t. Without fanfare, credit, glory, honors they provide dignity, sometimes one person at a time; faithfully for more than two generations.

And it certainly does not hurt to have your members come from all walks of life, ages, backgrounds and beliefs. Eager, everyone, to join a band of principled folk heroes; understated champions of humanity, who happen to risk their lives in the process.

Jacob Haley is the present president of this 19th century band of merry men. He has the lead role as Robin Hood, but doubles as the superintendent of the Quincy Consolidated Schools. It is the kitchen of the Stonewall Jackson Middle School that, not only hosts this month’s meeting of the Gadsden County Anti-slavery Society, but feeds them as well. These men will be absent from their respective dinner tables.         

“School food has improved since most of us were kids, right guys?” Haley both asks and states his case.

“What are these brown things?” quizzes Jacques Francois, with his apothecary’s curiosity for ingredients.

“You mean next to the noodles? Well, I’d guess meat, but I’ll check the menu about what they are calling it–here it is, Barn Yard Surprise. No, I’m kidding. We do have a dietary aid on staff, so whatever it is, it’s nutritious.”

“Nutritious and delicious!” offers another member.

“Eat more peach cobbler, if you have to. And remember, next month’s is at Smithy’s Livery… I believe hay is on the menu.”

“Now, if we can get down to work, we’ll all be home in time to kiss our kids good night,” a gavel-less call to order.

There are plans to be made and a job to be done.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #28


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #25

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #25

…The Campbell family are victims of a cruel anomaly; for all intents and purposes, they are still slaves…

The opposite is true for Northern blacks, as well as some in the South, where their freedom is more of a paper reality. True equality with the white majority may be more than a century away.

One interested outside observer of this world that seems heartlessly frozen in time, is Herbert Love, a dairy owner among other things, who has never kept slaves, even when it was legal. Anyone will tell you that he is the antithesis of Jefferson Smythwick. He is as sympathetic and benevolent, as the old slaver is callous and maniacal.

But because of his non-confrontational nature, Love has left his philosophical rival alone…

…Until now.

   Unbeknownst to Smythwick, the lord of Fort Sumter South, the overseer in chargeLove Dairies2-001 of the Campbell’s has been allowing Willy to pick up some rare wrapping leaves from Cuba at nearby Midway’s rail docks. On some of those days, young Alfrey comes with his father. Seven year olds have limited functional use on a plantation, so he is not missed. These missions do not go unnoticed by others… specifically Herbert Love.

His milk and milk byproducts are emerging as a marketable commodity, with the aid of the ice produced in his ice plant. Milk must be kept at 38 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure freshness, a feat heretofore not seriously attempted in this arid climate. It is his habit to make sure his 20 gallon cans of white nectar are properly transferred to his very own, specially designed railroad cars. When it is a humid 90 degrees outside, his methods of refrigeration are critical.

It is here at the train station, that the Quincy businessman and newly elected mayor, meets and gets to know Willy and Alfrey (Campbell), on their only common ground. He 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.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Opposites (the worm should not be smiling)

Episode #25


page 24

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #19

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #19

Chapter Two

LEON TO GADSDEN

…Introducing the Ferrell family of Tallahassee…

The midday sun shines bright at Ferrell Hillside Estate, especially so in July, when the heat and humidity drive man and animal to a shaded area; for comfort and health. The natural kettles of the Mission Hills, on the northwest outskirts of 1896 Tallahassee, soak up the moist warmth like a sponge. Jack pine trees, trimmed with wisps of Spanish moss, dot the rolling knolls, thereby binding the loose sandy soil.

In the middle of this scenic bowl are the stately buildings that are the core of Hillside Estate. Several well maintained barns, framed by white wooden fences comprise the “farm” portion of the property. The three story house at the epicenter keeps the Ferrell clan in grand style, with the glistening waters of San Luis Lake in the distance. The pointed gables outnumber Ferrells on this four sided granite structure, a building more likely to be seen in New York City than Florida, but that is Martha Ferrell for you. This house is her castle, mostly because she needed coercion and coddling to an ‘Indian infested land surrounded by Confederate rebels’. These days, it would take a civil war to get her to move.

1897-Daimler Grafton Tourer

1896 Model-Daimler Grafton Tourer

And move she does in her new Daimler motorcar, the one favored most by British royalty. She is hitting the open road on the just opened Thomasville Road, on her carefree way to Lake Killarney and a female friend who lives in the small Irish enclave there. She is wearing a white eyelet cotton frock, which gracefully follows the contour of her classically generous figure. Her perfectly coiffed strawberry blond hair is topped off by a wide-brimmed driving bonnet.

This little jaunt will use up the rest of this day and most of the next, with a side-trip to drop off children James and Agnes at a day camp at Maclay State Park, which is on the dusty trail.

“Agnes–James! Joseph has the auto started; let us be on our way!” The Ferrells’ manservant uses his field-honed muscles to crank the new engine into motion. Hopefully there is a capable someone at her destination or every time she needs a restart. No matter. Will she not look fine standing beside it regardless?

The Ferrell children arrive, prim and proper, if not overdressed for camp, armed with huge bags stuffed to the point where rope is needed to keep them from bursting at the seams.

“Please put our bags in the boot, Joseph.”

Looking at the available space in the rear, or rather the lack of said, the Negro helper says, “Yessum Ma’am, I thinks I can do it.”

On his way up the path from the stable, is John Ferrell, husband to Martha, father to 16Ferrell's Grocery-001 year old James and 14 year old Agnes. He has stabled his Saddlebred stallion, after spending the morning at Ferrell’s Grocery chain’s largest store; taking care of a good sized business, five miles and 45 minutes away on horseback from their San Luis Lake home. He slaps off the dust that has accumulated on his person, mostly because there are far more dirt roads and streets than hard surfaced, even in the Capitol city; three plus years from the approaching twentieth century.

“Hey, you Ferrells!,” he calls out, “I’m surprised to see you still here. You are burning daylight. Lake Killarney ain’t around the corner, Martha, closer to Georgia than Tallahassee.” There is genuine concern in his voice. He loves his family, though the time he spends working helps makes up for a general shortfall of attention given to him.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Map-001

Episode #19


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