Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #47

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #47

…Jacob Haley would have been pleased with the bright flashes and the racket, but he cannot see a thing face down between the rails…

Alive-001

Jacob Haley would have been pleased with the bright flashes and the racket, signs of the slave revolution he had himself worked endlessly to create. But he cannot see a thing face down between the rails, thanking his glorious God for divine deliverance from decapitating disaster.Locomotive      

“He lives! Sweet Mary, Mother of God. Jacob is alive!” the Bleakers cannot contain their cartwheeling joy.

Cheers and tears erupt together. Adversity makes for strong glue.

“What’s all the commotion?” asks the blacksmith, who has been toting Grandma Lettie for three miles now, unaware of the theatrical crossing of the Little River. “Did you beat the train?” What a loaded question that is. Almost, he is told.

Hugging and such stops with one more reason to rejoice,  Lettie Golden has made the crossing, alive no less. ‘But what of Jacques Francoise?’ they ask the smithy.

He heard the hounds out of Sumter and he is leading them a merry chase. Right now I believe he is headed downstream, maybe wetting a line for some trout he calls, “Big Bertha”.

Fort Sumter3-001“Oh and the refreshment lady at mile 3 probably made it to the house up the tracks before the dogs came out, says she’ll get the juicy story at the next meeting.”

A recovering Jacob Haley assesses their status while he listens out of the other ear. It is another mile and a half to State Road 268 and does not want a lucky guess by Jefferson Smythwick interfering with this covert coup. Freedom seems assured. Secrecy must follow.

“Poor Mrs. Ferrell is waiting at mile five, wondering in God’s name what happening. For all she knows, we aren’t going to show, seeing we are nearly an hour behind schedule. She is eager and the doubt will eat her alive.”

Bleaker Brothers-001“We will run ahead and give her the good news!” offer the ever energetic Bleakers, never more than a heartbeat apart.

“She will be thrilled with our triumphs!” Jacob guesses, forgetting that she had recruited husband John. His freight truck will transport the group and their family home will shelter the Campbell family until things settle down in Gadsden County.

“We’d better get going folks. An eastbound freight train is due near dawn and we need to finish up before light.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #47


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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 #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 #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 #27

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #27

…Ol pigface can smell trouble a mile ‘way–and we can smell him too…

“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!” Herbert Love means business.

Campbell instinctively looks around, to see who might be listening in. He hears stories of the Underground Railroad, but that was long ago and there were dozens of stories circulating about horrible endings to miserable ordeals. At least he can now claim food, clothing and a waterproof roof for his family; the three keys to happiness in his mind.

“I hope you are seriously considering what I am saying.” He senses the all too familiar, deep-rooted fear of a downtrodden human being. There is a group of men in Gadsden County who are determined to take the legs out from under what’s left of slavery. The loss of you and your family should expose Jefferson Smythwick’s underbelly and show him for the enemy of decency that he is.”

“I’za know what ya sayin’, but terrible harm may come on us.” Willy rubs his temples that are throbbing with doubt. “And there’s ‘Manda’s mamma. Shoot, ol’ woman’s better days be behind ‘er… she’s been sickly, ya know, coughin’ and weezin’.”

“I think we have come up with a plan that will ensure the safety for all of your family. The men are all meeting tonight to put the finishing touches on the plan. But I have to tell you that we have an alternate scheme, involving another family, should you decide to stay put.

“So please talk this over with your wife and mother-in-law, think it all through. I will be here at the station this same time, every day for seven days. If you do not come back, that will be our answer.”

Just then, the boy and the bird enter. “Daddy, look at what I did fo’ the sparrow,” Alfery interrupts proudly. “I bandaged both wings together so he can’t hurt hisself any mo’.”

“Looks like doctor material to me, Willy, how about you?”

“When is yo’ plan fo’, Master Love?”

“We are looking at early October… the start of fall harvest.”

“I’ll bea seein’ you in a couple a days, maybe three. I don’t wants to makes them ‘spicious ‘bout anythin’.Ol pigface can smell trouble a mile ‘way–and we can smell him too!”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #27


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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


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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


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