FUNKADELIC FRIDAYS: WHITVILLE U. S. A.

small town america

“JENKINS!  DO YOU HAVE THAT ARTICLE READY FOR A. M. PRINTING?  WE CAN’T AFFORD TO LOSE THE MOMENTUM THAT’S RUNNING THROUGH THIS CITY.”

“Momentum Sir?  I don’t think I understand what you mean.”

“JENKINS.  PEOPLE ARE BUYING OUR PAPER ON A DAILY BASIS.  WE NEED TO KEEP THAT HAPPENING.  GET THAT STORY READY FOR PRINT.  PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW EVERY DETAIL OF THE TRIAL.  GIVE THEM A FRONT ROW SEAT IN PRINT.  MAKE THEM SEE WHAT HAPPENED.  DO IT RIGHT OR YOU’RE DONE!!!  I MEAN IT!.

“Yes Sir.  I’ll get right on it after lunch.  I need to . . . “

“JENKINS! DIDN’T YOU HEAR ME?  WORK . . . NOW!  EAT LATER!”

“Yes sir.”

This man is crazy.  This story isn’t going anywhere. I’ve been in court ALL day.   I’m gettin’ some lunch.

Bessie’s Diner was all abuzz with the talk of the court case.  It seemed like it was the topic of conversation at every table.

“Hey Katie.  I need a double burger, no cheese, onion rings, and a strawberry shake.  To go.  I have a deadline and ‘Attila’
is breathing down my neck to have this story ready for print pronto.”

“Hey Beau.  That case seems to still have everyone spellbound.  People are behaving as if it’s still going on.  I’ll get ya’ order Sugah.”

“I disagree with the whole thing.  Waste of money if you ask me. These new fangle lawyers.  I can’t stand ’em.”

Great.  There’s the town trouble maker, Bubba Cox,  expressing his negative opinion as usual.  I don’t think that man likes anybody. Including himself.

“Here ya’ go Sugah.  Ya’ sandwich, onion rings, and strawberry shake.  Enjoy.”

“Thanks Katie.  I just hope I don’t get heartburn from wolfing this down.  Back to the desk.”

As I reentered the office, ‘Attila’ was still on one of his tirades.

“WHERE IS JENKINS?  HIS DESK IS EMPTY.  I WANT . . . OH, THERE YOU ARE.  DO YOU HAVE MY STORY READY YET?”

“Gettin’ to it right now Boss.  Gettin’ to it right now.”

“IT BETTER BE IN THE A.M. PAPER OR YOU CAN LOOK FOR ANOTHER JOB!”

If you would leave I could get this done.

“Yes Sir. It will Sir.  Just have to type it Sir.”

  “ENOUGH JENKINS WITH THE SIR.  JUST GET IT DONE! I’M GONE FOR THE NIGHT!”

Finally peace. Alright. Food . . . check.  Paper . . . check. Plenty of ink . . . check.  Correction erasers . . . check.  Time to create my masterpiece for the morning edition.

To get an objective view of the trial of the Sampson boys, I spoke with Mrs. Beatrice Whitville, wife of Attorney Bruce Whitville.  This is her account of what took place.

Whitville is a quaint little southern community with a population of God-fearing, law abiding citizens.  People mind their own business here.  Nothing spectacular ever happens in our little community.  However, things changed when Robert and Lillie Sampson moved into our neighborhood with their two teenage sons, Chris and Torrence.  Our town is literally divided by a railroad track separating the whites from the coloreds.  One would think that progressive minded people would move beyond this racial wall.  Unfortunately, ignorance continues to blind some of my neighbors of both races in our fair city.  We hoped to break down that wall of prejudice brick by brick by allowing a few colored families to move into our community.  I believed, and still believe, that this is a good beginning.  Unfortunately, my sentiments are not shared.

Robert and Lillie Sampson live two housed down from me.  They take very good care of their property.  In fact, all of the colored families in our community do.  All of the stories about what would happen if they moved into our community are just ‘hogwash’.  However, I must admit, I did have my reservations.  The Sampson, my neighbors, are hard working, Christian folks.  After watching them for a  time, I invited Lillie Sampson over for tea.  I consider myself a progressive person and I believe that we are all Gods’ children.  Nevertheless, I have received some undesirable looks from the ladies of the flower club when I attend the meetings.  The mindset of some neighbors is that although we allowed a few colored families to move into our neighborhood, it is not considered appropriate to mingle with them.  I disagree.  We need some diversity in our little community of Whitville.

Robert Sampson, Lillies’ husband, is a stockman at the local A & P Grocery store.  Larry Grimes, the owner of the A & P Grocery never has a cross word to say about Robert.  Lillie stays home and takes care of their sons, Chris and Torrence.  They are in high school at Carver.  It’s a shame that they have to walk such a long way from their home to school.  Maybe that will change in time as well.  Chris and Torrence play on the basketball team at Carver.  This was their saving grace when the bank was robbed.  It was a case of mistaken identity.  The evidence for the prosecution, I am sad to say, was skin color and the testimony of two pitiful witnesses.  If my husband, Bruce Whitville, had not defended those boys, who knows how may years they would have been sentenced to.

Larry Grimes left to make his daily deposit at our friendly neighborhood bank when he walked in on what appeared to be a robbery.  As he was entering the bank through the Hiillmans doors on the east side of the building, two young colored boys were running out of the newly installed Beckman doors.  They are on the west side of the bank.  Mr. Hillman and Mr. Beckman were gracious enough to donate those doors to the bank.  Anyhow, Larry said that he believed the robbers were the Sampson boys.  The people in the bank were in various positions.  Some of the women were crying.  All of the men were lying on the floor.  Bubba, the security guard, lay unconscious on the floor.  Larry called an ambulance for him.  No one appeared to be physically injured.

When the police arrived, they took Larry’s report.  He said that he was certain the robbers were the Sampson boys.  Without any further question or evidence, the police went to the home of Lillie and Robert Sampson to arrest Chris and  Torrence.  Lillie told the officers that her sons had not gotten in from basketball practice, however, she expected them home at any moment.  She invited the officers in and offered them a cup of tea.  Lillie is such a decent colored girl.  They declined her offer and waited on the porch for Chris and Torrence.  Lillie questioned why they were looking for her sons.  The officers refused to answer.  Needless to say, Lillie became quite distraught.  She feared for the safety of her sons.  Lillie called Robert and then she called me.  She asked if I would come over immediately.  She said that the police were after her sons and would not tell her why.  I went directly over to her house.  The officers spoke politely to me but would not answer my questions.  I called my husband, Bruce.  Maybe he would be able to get some answers.  Before Bruce arrived, Chris and Torrence came home.  The police handcuffed them as soon as they entered their front yard and whisked them off to jail.  Bruce arrived with the news that Chris and Torrence had been accused of robbing the bank and that was all he could find out.  Knowing that Robert and Lillie could do nothing to help their sons, Bruce and I decided to go to the jail to see what, if anything, could be done.  The judge would not be in until the morning so we went home.  All we could do was pray that no harm would come to those boys.

To be continued.

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