Staff writer Malcolm Gay asks a leading question. Joe won't bite.

Week of July 20, 2006

Jul 19, 2006 at 4:00 am
Hey Joe: What's your definition of success?

Li'l Yusey M., St. Louis

I think it's this poem given to me some 30 years ago; the author is unknown.

A smile that time shall not erase, and a song within your heart;

The courage to meet life face-to-face and the will to do your part;

The strength to hold on when the going's tough and clouds are as dark as night;

The confidence never to cry "enough," the grit to stand up to the fight.

The faith to believe in your fellow man and the sense to protect you from guile;

The spirit that says, "I will" and "I can." The mind that does things worthwhile.

The charity that kindness gives and a cheering word for a dole;

The hope unconquerable that lives in an indomitable soul.

No matter what the score may be, it needs no more, no less...

You shall have won to victory and sought and found success!

To some, success means money, but what shall money avail?

The gold of Midas shall not abide us when we come to the end of the trail.

We are all like birds of passage, flying, soaring and roaming,

Winging away 'til the passing of day brings us to our last rest, homing.

Then why all the striving and struggles? Peace, avarice, poisons and blunts.

Remember this thought: Love cannot be bought, and we only pass this way once.

Success! A kind word in the giving; a smile as we go on our way.

The good we can do as we're passing through to bring happiness today.

These are the only efforts, that shall stand the final test.

These He shall weigh on the final day, and He shall discard the rest.

No! Success lies not in the gaining all for yourself while you live.

The REAL success, or I miss my guess, depends on what you give.

Hey Joe: What's your favorite column in the Riverfront Times?

Malcolm Gay, St. Louis

It isn't a column, but I love Tom Tomorrow's This Modern World cartoons because they are so outspokenly truthful.

Hey Joe: I cheated on my wife with both of her sisters. Should I tell her, or should I just enjoy the ride?

Matty McDuke, Swansea, Illinois

Ordinarily I would say let your conscience be your guide. Obviously, though, based upon what is stated, you don't have a conscience. Therefore, why hurt your wife deeper? Just try to change your ways and hopefully allow time to heal all wounds.

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.