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GENIUS, A CHILDHOOD OASIS
My granddaddy, Douglas Murchison was a short dark African man; his wife, my grandmother, Margaret Murchison, was just like her husband but had a noble face with broad lips, bright eyes, and the softest black skin. I loved to kiss my grandmother. My aunt, Mary and Marie, were tall and skinny. My uncles were short except for Warren-Mac, who stood about six feet four inches. Closer to the height I would reach in adulthood of six feet six inches tall. I wondered why my granddad was short, and his sons were taller. I would learn later that my great-granddaddy (Warrick Murchison) was a man of six feet seven inches tall, and human characteristics often skipped a generation. The homeplace of my mother’s parents, Douglas and Maggie Murchison, was on Raleigh Road, just north of the city. My mother and her siblings grew up on Evans Hill. Next to my grandparent’s house on the left was another four-room shotgun house owned by Mrs. Roxie McRae.
Mrs. Nellie owned the house on the right. Out of my grandparent’s front door was the neighborhood store and juke joint. Mr. L and Mr. K operated the store for short periods. However, it was Mr. A, whom I remembered most, because he had the most beautiful wife. Her name was Mrs. G. She was a fair-skinned woman, petite and shaped like a Coca Cola bottle with the softest smile. She seldom spoke, but when she did, she talked like honey flowed from her lips. The store was the center of attention in my mind.
THE YEARS OF GROWING PAINS
During my eighth grade year, with my nerves in hand. I decided to attend tryouts for the Junior Varsity basketball team. One of my classmates (Jasper) was a trainer for the football team and served as the JV basketball team trainer. He gave me the details about trying out, so I followed Jasper’s lead. I reported to the gym following the last class of the day on a Monday. When I arrived in the gym, at least thirty other boys were sitting on the bleachers, awaiting further instructions. I joined the group and sat on a first-tier bleacher. Basketball tryout was a weeklong venture, with the understanding, if you weren’t asked to leave by the end of the last practice on Friday, you would make the team. Participants to return for the next day of tryouts was posted daily at the end of training. If your name was on the list, you understood you should return to the next workout. Coach A, the Health and Physical Education Instructor, was the basketball coach for the Junior Varsity and Varsity Teams. He
would put us through the paces of dribbling, shooting, passing, sprinting,
offensive/defensive plays, and many other basic drills. He always observed assessing our skills and individual abilities. I was nervous but eager and trying to show my talents and skills, and this was my first
time trying out for any sports team; I knew none of the other players trying out. Many of them seem to have known each from having participated in recreation sports programs at Seabrook Park. I had heard of programs at Seabrook Park Recreational Center, but had no resources to attend any programs.
At the end of the first practice, my name was on the list. So, I lived another day. Each practice day, there were fewer participants. At the end of the training on Thursday, my name was on the list. Friday’s practice would be the last cut date, I was upbeat as most of the players were, but there were eighteen players in training and only fifteen positions on the squad. Practice on this day was brisk, seemingly much quieter. You could see and feel the smoothness and the precision of how it pitched a rhythm of coordination. At the end of the training, the coach called everyone together and made a short talk. He thanked everyone for their effort and announced today is the final day for three of the participants. The coach said he would post everyone who had made the team, and everyone should check the list after we showered and dressed.