TITLE: An Exciting Visit to Florida
By Verna Mull
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We were headed to Florida to visit my Uncle Weaver and Aunt Minnie! My, how excited I was! It would be quite a long trip, as we live in Iowa.
At one of our stops to eat, I found an article in a newspaper that told of a man, who lived in the same town as my uncle, who was celebrating his 122nd. Birthday, and was still running a candy store!
Over lunch, I discussed this with my husband, and stated that I would love to go meet the gentleman. His address was right there in the paper, and he was living in the same town that we were driving to. Could we go see him? We were staying for several days anyway, why not?
Well, my husband is not as “people adventurous” as I. He rather hesitated, but finally said, “Well, I guess we probably could stop, if it means so much to you.”
We arrived at my uncles, and it was such a thrill to see them.
I hadn’t forgotten about my 122 year old man, so the next afternoon; we headed over to visit my candy store operator. We found ourselves in a colored district, which didn’t bother us, or at least, me. I’ve always loved the black people every since I was a young child and was so attracted to a little black baby that I met. We stopped along the street, and asked some children if we were on the right street. They pointed out the gentleman’s home, and we were not far away.
The children were almost convulsing with laughter. Well, this made my husband nervous; but I thought they were just being normal kids.
When we arrived at the house, there was an old, dirty, dilapidated pop machine by the door. We walked up and knocked on the door. A sweet sounding old gentleman called, “Come in!” So, we walked into the strangest scene! We had to walk around a circle of pop bottles to get in the entry way, each one placed equal distant from the other.
The gentleman sat on the only clear spot on the sofa, eating out of a tin can, dressed in a very old suit, dirty shirt and tie.
We introduced ourselves, and told him about the newspaper article, and asked if he was really 122 years old? He said that he was, and told us to find a place to sit down, and he would tell us about his life. There were stacks of newspapers everywhere, so… we just sat on a pile of newspapers, and he began to tell us how he came to America as a slave and was later emancipated. He talked about his travels and experiences that he had as a slave. A very interesting story until he told of how he had this old gun that he had used to protect himself etc. At this point, he said that he was going to go get the gun to show to us. He got up and walked to his bedroom. I presume, to get the old gun.
The whole situation was too much for my husband, and he whispered “let’s get out of here before he gets back with that gun!’ He grabbed my hand and rushed me through the door, knocking down a couple pop bottles as we went!
My husband had me in the car, and tearing down the street before I could say anything! (I still have doubts that the gentleman intended to cause us harm) After we left, I fully expected that the gentleman would call the police, and we would be in some kind of trouble for running off.
Oh, yes, our vacation turned out to be as great as we had thought. We enjoyed visiting, eating oranges and just enjoying the Florida sun!
Nothing ever came of the situation with the elderly gentleman, but, it still bothers me that we may have frightened a 122 year old man! I still think of him. My husband does too, but always followed by, “Don’t get any more crazy ideas like that; because I will not go along with it again.” I have a feeling that almost 45 years later, he is still very serious about that statement.
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