Al Gore sends Joe an inconvenient letter.

Week of July 13, 2006

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Al Gore

Hey Joe: Do you think St. Louis has gotten warmer in your lifetime? If so, what do you think the causes are?

Al Gore, Nashville, Tennessee

Not really. During my childhood, coal-burning stoves were used for all seasons of the year. In the winter, they were used for cooking and heating and for the other seasons they were used only for cooking. During summer, the only cooling system was screen doors and windows. Not many electrical fans were en vogue. There was no such thing as global warming. Most people were compelled to adjust to the weather. The only air pollution at the time was smoke that emitted from coal-burning stoves and smokestacks near businesses located in and around East St. Louis and downtown St. Louis, which caused the location to be dubbed "The Pittsburgh of the West." Then came war with Japan and the atomic bomb, whose explosion formed a mushroom-like cloud.

In recent years, the idea of weapons of mass destruction has cropped up. It's a theme that has grown extremely popular within the George W. Bush administration and a topic that Tom Tomorrow illustrates vividly through his This Modern World cartoons in the RFT. In doing so, he points out the negative side of the president's cohorts that's directed toward anyone who disagrees with Bush's political philosophy, all the while noting that Bush claims to be a devout born-again Christian and has a large following of Christians of all denominations. I wonder if they have missed what I have found in the pages of the Bible during my short research of it. There, found in the Book of James (3:5-8), is the answer to why there is conflict abroad and division within this country.

These verses relate to the tongue. I think the most dominant is James 3:8, which states, "But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison." This warning occurred during ancient history, better than 2,000 years before America became known as the "modern world." However, the prophecy was right. Evidence is found in the lie that Bush told Americans, which initiated this ongoing mayhem. Bush's tongue was the real weapon of mass destruction. Those tongues that speak in support of him are also weapons of mass destruction. Further, James 1:8 states, "A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." I seriously think that people should stop playing Christians and instead begin acting the part.

Prince Joe Henry, one of professional baseball's original "clowns," was an all-star infielder for Negro League baseball teams in Memphis, Indianapolis and Detroit throughout the 1950s. But up until the late 1940s, Prince Joe didn't know anything about the Negro Leagues. His knowledge of organized baseball was limited to the Cardinals and Browns games he attended during his preteen years at Sportsman's Park, accompanied by lifelong buddy Eugene "Gene" Crittendon, who could pass for white.

Perhaps Henry's most vivid memory of those games: Upon entry, white ushers would politely escort the boys to a small section of the left-field stands reserved for "Colored." After climbing past several tiers of bleachers, they'd arrive at their stop, rows and rows behind their white counterparts.

Even at a young age, the boys were conscious of the double standard -- and determined to vent their disdain. The opportunity would arise with the urge to urinate. Rather than head for the latrine, the boys would edge their way to the front of the section and let fly. As the liquid foamed its way down the concrete steps toward the white kids, Henry and his pal would ease back and relax, politely rooting for the visiting team to beat the hell out of the Browns or the Cards.

After all, Henry and Crittendon hailed from Brooklyn, Illinois, a small, predominantly black township just east of the Mississippi River. So hospitable were the residents of Brooklyn that they were known to take in a rank stranger, treat him to breakfast, lunch, supper and a night out on the town -- and afterward, if he messed up, treat him to a good ass-whippin'.

Direct questions on any and all topics to [email protected]. If we don't like yours, we'll hit Joe with our own.

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