Hugh Jardon, Centreville
Guys like you make these places possible. Brooklyn, a community of 2,600 people, is the most historical community in America. Nearly five decades past, black children from communities such as East Carondelet, Centreville and the like were bused from their hometowns through East St. Louis to Brooklyn and Venice, where they attended Lovejoy and Lincoln high schools because of being disallowed to attend white public schools. This meant crossing many railroad tracks along Route 3.
Of Brooklyn's seven major east-west arteries, five bear names of presidents. Numerically, the north and south thoroughfares are Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh. Route 3 is Second Street. The town never had a First. Every street and block throughout the town -- including space behind railroad tracks -- was replete with a variety of houses and businesses. The phrase "separate but equal" as applied to blacks in neighboring communities was unheard of in Brooklyn. There were no such junk words as "majority" and "minority." Although blacks were in the majority, all residents were regarded as townspeople without regard to nationality. In addition to the town being surrounded by railroad tracks, it was also surrounded by American history.
Hey Joe: What are your thoughts on the Millions More Movement in Washington, D.C., this year?
Earl McDowell, East St. Louis
Here's my answer: "MORE MILLIONS!!!"
Hey Joe: Did you ever play against my grandfather Jim "Lefty" LaMarque? He was a pitcher from the KC Monarchs. If so, was he tough to hit off of? I never got to talk much baseball with him before he passed away.
David LaMarque Smith, Ellisville, MO
Yes, he certainly was difficult for me to hit, but many other guys experienced the same.
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.