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75 SOUTH (A Mini Series) Part 4

The package Linda left for me was pretty impressive.  The target town was Three Notch Alabama near Union Springs located in the Plantation Country (also known as the Black Belt region for its rich soil)  part of the state in Bullock County.  According to the map, the major cities in close proximity were Montgomery, (the capital) Tuskegee, (the next county north of Union Springs) and Selma, to the west in Dallas county.

Being an avid reader, I knew a considerate amount about the south because I knew my history.  Although I’ve never stepped foot in ‘Plantation Country’ or any other part of the south – I knew who I came from – where my people came from after surviving the middle passage to this country.  I sometimes think that the reasons I’ve avoided going south is due to how I feel about the jacked up history that comes up whenever you’re talking to a conscious person about the American South. Some people just don’t get it, some people don’t want to get it, so for me, I try to refrain from discussing such a complex, emotional, important subject with the wrong people – with the people who just don’t seem to get it.  I’ve watched all of the Martin Luther King movies and documentaries on television, I’ve read every ‘Black Power’ book I could get my hands on and I make it a point to support Black films at the box office.  I proudly refuse to work on Martin Luther King Day by asking months in advance for that day off if the company I’m working for at the time is open on ‘King Day.’  I feel it is my duty as a black woman (I prefer black over African American) to learn as much as I can about where and whom I come from, and, where I’m going.

That awareness never included, in my mind anyway, going south.  The more I reviewed the package, the more excited I became about going.  What’s funny to me is, when I meet and talk to people for the first time at work, at a club or some other type of social gathering, over half of them ask, “what part of the south are you from Thomasina?”  I always reply the same, “Detroit.”  People tell me I have a southern twang and I insist that I don’t know where I picked it up from and we all laugh and the conversation naturally shifts with everybody happy.  But now, now, I was warming to the idea of going south.  When I think about it, I’m surprised that my mom and Bud never took me – both of them are from Alabama, I’m not sure where because they never really talk about it – I don’t remember them ever going down there for anything like a wedding, a funeral, a family reunion – nothing.  I wonder how they’ll react to the news about my work assignment in Alabama – hmm mm,  I wonder.  They talk about it sometimes but it’s always real casual, like the cousins they grew up with or how they hated outside plumbing and the little school houses they attended.  I know one thing, they won’t be much help in supplying me with information of people to get in touch with because they’re so outta touch.  I don’t remember them talking to anyone on the phone that lived south, but, oh yeah, but, Bud does talk to some old lady who lives in Akron, Ohio, somebody he’s been knowing a long time, a friend, I think a childhood friend from down south somewhere – I can’t think of the name but I know he talks to her at least a couple of times a year – at least.  Alright, Alright.  I’m going to try to find out Bud’s friends name when I let them know about my trip to Plantation Country.

B. Knox

 

75 SOUTH

To be continued on Sunday 1.31.2016

 

75 SOUTH (A Mini Series) Part 3

“Hi Mom.”

“Hi Tommie, how you doing?”

“I’m good Ma, I was just calling to see what was going on with you and Bud.”

“Girl, quit calling your daddy Bud, You know that’s not right.”

“Bud don’t mind, I mean (laughing), dad don’t mind.”

“I always told your daddy we should’ve had more children.”

“Come on Ma, you know I’m more than enough for both of you.”

“Yeah, you right Tommie, sometimes a little too much” (laughing).  “At least you aren’t spoiled, child. I definitely thank the Lord for that.”

“Love you Ma, tell Bud I called.”

“OK honey, I’ll tell your daddy you called, talk to you soon.”

 

I decided to take the offer that Linda presented to me on behalf of Mr. Silver, heck, at least I’ll get a chance to travel the south on somebody else’s dime.  Although I had never ventured south, I was aware of distant relatives that I overheard my mom and Bud talking about.  Friends of mine had relocated to Atlanta a few years back and they have not returned home – not once since they left the Motor City.  They both even convinced their parents to move south so they wouldn’t have to fly back and forth to check on them.  I’m not sure what they said to the Clemons’s and the Holley’s but they packed their stuff up, rented out their houses and have settled down in Savannah.

On occasion, me and Vickie would talk and she would always let me know how much she enjoyed living in Atlanta.  “Girl, look a here, look a here – Vickie Holley loves Atlanta, loves living down south – you hear me talkin to you T ?”  I love the south.”

“Well V – does the south love you back?”  (I asked).

“Hell yeah girl!  “Atlanta loves them some Vickie, I mean, you know me girl, who or what wouldn’t love me?” (laughing).

Alright Ms. Thang.” (I remember saying).  “Talk to you later.  Give my love to Murphy, your parents and your in laws and you all take care of yourselves. Mom and Bud say’s hi as well.”

“OK Tommie – my love to your parents as well.”  “Girl, why you call your father Bud?”

“Cause that’s his name.”  (I replied).

 

That was over a month ago and I couldn’t wait to tell Vickie that I would be traveling south, I know she’s going to be blown away.  She’s been trying to get me to come and visit her and Murphy since she stepped her size 6 feet on that red dirt and proclaimed that she was home.  Maybe I’ll make a stop in Atlanta first – I don’t know, something to think about.  First, I have to let my parent’s know about my plans – then, I’ll tell V.

 

B. Knox

75 SOUTH

To be continued on Tuesday, 1.19.2016

 

 

 

 

75 SOUTH (A Mini Series) Part 2

I had worked for Silver Streak Properties for almost 7 years.  During that time, Linda, the district property manager had mentored me from day one on everything from choosing the maintenance staff, working on positive relations with our tenants and most of all, the most important thing in property management land – maintaining occupancy levels at 85%.  That was the main focus and everybody who worked at the property knew it.  Maintaining the property was just as important, that came without saying.  The maintenance staff knew how I rolled so they got on board and rolled right with me.  I made sure that myself or Artesia, my assistant  entered all incoming maintenance orders from tenants in the system while they were yelling, screaming and sometimes whispering their problem over the phone.  Tenants would be complaining about this don’t work, that thing got broke, the dumb ass maintenance man didn’t fix it right – and one of us would be typing and talking at the same time.  To me, a happy tenant paid their rent, paid it on time and renewed their lease more often than not.

Paradise was a section 8 / tax credit property with 250 one and two bedroom apartments for senior citizens age 62 and above, and a small percentage of disabled individuals under 62.  The property on the east side of Detroit also had 50 two and three bedroom townhomes for low income families.  There was another world of property management where I started at in Southfield as a leasing agent at the Center Apartments.  This world of property management was more conventional, also known as market rate.  Unlike section 8 or tax credit where rent is subsidized based on your income,  usually about 30% – market rate is whatever the market will bear in the area that your property is located.  Needless to say, the Center in Southfield was a much easier property to manage.  Prospective tenants who applied at the Center Apartments knew the cost and if they made a certain amount of money and could afford the market rate – that’s what they would pay.  I enjoyed working there but after a couple of years I felt like a needed a challenge and stepped into another  zone of property management.

Linda had given me a lot to think about concerning Mr. Silver and his proposition.  Before leaving my office, she left a package concerning the property in Somewhere Alabama and what they wanted me to do if I decided to go 75 South.  I had asked Linda about my staff and she ensured me that they would all receive severance packages and would be invited to apply at another property owned or managed by Silver Streak.  That gave me comfort because my staff was like family to me.  As I sat there at my desk alone thinking about my time at Paradise, many things came to mind.  I thought about the long hours, continuous arguments with a few irate tenants, the sometimes downright dangerous positions you could find yourself in, unsavory people that would be buzzed in by lonely senior citizens – some they knew, some they didn’t, just because somebody rang their bell.  Some of the bell rangers were drug dealers, thieves, and ungrateful children or grandchildren showing up on the 1st and 3rd of the month to help themselves to their loved ones SSI or Social Security checks.  I also thought about the good things that I witnessed – senior citizens interacting with each other on their own terms and preferences, this was an Independent Living community and you lived your life the way you wanted to live.  If you wanted to come down to socialize, attend a talk that someone was giving, join the coffee crew for conversation or just see what was going on – that’s what you did.  You were an older adult – not a child, and the seniors at Paradise flourished.  I also admired how a lot of the families in the townhomes took pride in where they lived.  They doted on their children, kept their yards clean and for the most part, reported anything unsavory that might be going on to management so it wouldn’t get out of hand, and, contrary to perception, most people in subsidized housing have jobs – they may not be high paying jobs but, the majority at Paradise had some type of job and they took pride in that.

About 2 years ago, I started having panic attacks.  I didn’t know where they were coming from and I didn’t realize what it was the first time it happened.  I was in bed asleep and all of a sudden I was forced to wake up.  It appeared to me I was having problems breathing and jumped up with a racing heart along with a sense of panic and confusion.  It was after 12 midnight and it took about 15 minutes to get myself together.  I called a friend and talked to her on the phone until the panic wore off.  I told myself it was bad dreams, the constant noise of sirens in my east side Alter Road neighborhood near Grosse Pointe, working too hard to keep occupancy levels high and so on and so on – I didn’t understand why it was happening.  Now, I was feeling that panic again, but, this time I knew where it was coming from.  Linda.  Linda and Mr. Silver were disrupting my world by selling Paradise and sending me on some down south assignment that I didn’t ask for.  I had a lot to think about and I’m glad they had the decency to give me two weeks to decide.  In the meantime, after the end of the week, I’m officially on vacation.

To be continued on Friday 1/15/2016

B. Knox

 

75 South

 

 

 

75 SOUTH (A Mini Series) Part 1

“Tommie.”

“I’ve got good news and bad news.”

“What’s going on Linda?  What do you mean good news and bad news?”

“Sit down Thomasina, please, stop what you’re doing and have a seat.”

“Oh, Oh, – did you say Thomasina?  This must be serious.  You only call me Thomasina when something is wrong.  What is it,  what is it Linda?  It can’t be the numbers, we’re at 97% occupancy, 97% Linda.  This property has never had numbers that high for three consecutive months, never, so it can’t be the numbers.”

“Thomasina, Tommie, let me try to explain, just listen.”

“Listen to what Linda, huh, listen to what?! (raising my voice).

“See, there it is Tommie, there it is – you have an anger problem – you”

“What! (I shouted).  What do you mean I have an anger problem?”

“Tommie, if you would listen for a minute and stop raising your voice.  You are a dynamic property manager, you have turned this property around in so many ways, nobody’s denying that.  Mr. Silver recognizes what you have done here.  He recognizes and appreciates your diligence and willingness to go the extra mile to keep this property profitable.  That’s the problem Tommie.  Paradise Apartments is doing so well that an offer has been made to Mr. Silver that he can’t say no to.  Tommie, what I’m trying to tell you is he sold the property.  The new owners are from New York and they’re bringing their own people to Detroit to manage the property.  To manage and run Paradise.”

“Ok Linda.  I get it.  I’m out because I helped to make Paradise a successful property.”

“No Tommie.  You made Paradise a profitable property.  You are the only manager that I’ve worked with who actually went to pick up prospective tenants because they didn’t have a car or bus fare to get here.  You made sure they got here and drove them to DHS – the Secretary of State office – to their children’s school to ensure they had all the paperwork that HUD and MSHDA require for this property.  You helped people obtain shelter in a better situation than most of them came from.  You ridded this property of the rift raft that we sometimes get in section 8 and tax credit housing.  You made it safer for the young and the old that call Paradise home.”

“So what’s the good news Linda?”

“The good news is that Mr. Silver has put together a nice severance package for you and an extra bonus for the excellent occupancy rate.”

“How thoughtful.  Make sure to tell Mort thanks for me Linda.”

“I will do that Tommie.”

“Tommie.  There’s one other thing.”

“You mean there’s more good news Linda?”  (sarcastic tone).

“Mr. Silver has a proposition for you.  Are you willing to consider it?”

“What kind of proposition Linda?”

“He and Mrs. Silver will be relocating to Florida.”

“And what does that have to do with me Linda, huh, what does them moving to Florida have to do with me?”

“The offer he got for Paradise is what he’s been waiting for to finally retire.”

“And.  Again, what does that have to do with me?”

“There’s some unfinished business that needs to be taken care of to get his real estate portfolio in order.”

“What kind of unfinished business Linda?”

“The Silver’s have property down south.”

“Down south.  Where down south – Florida?”

“Way, way down south – Thomasina.”

“There you go calling me Thomasina again Linda.  I thought Florida was as far south as you could go?  Where exactly is way, way down south that you’re referring to Ms. MBA?”

“Alabama.”

“Alabama?  Why do the Silver’s have property in Alabama?  Have they even ever been to Alabama?  Shit, I ain’t never been to Alabama.

“I can’t tell.  You sound like you from Alabama with I ain’t never been.  Where you get that word ain’t from Thomasina?  You sure you ain’t been to Alabama?”

“Ok Linda.  Enough about me and my vocabulary.  Remember, you trying to get me to do something for the Silver’s – what is it?”

“As I was saying Thomasina.  The Silver’s have property in Alabama that they need to sale.”

“You still haven’t told me where in Alabama Linda.  Where at in Alabama?  Birmingham,  Tuskegee,  Montgomery – where?”

“Three Notch.”

“Three who?”

“Three Notch Alabama Thomasina.  Three Notch.  A small town near Union Springs.”

“Union Springs, Union Springs.  You saying Union Springs like I should know that it exists.  What’s near Union Springs Linda?”

“Montgomery is about fifty miles away and Tuskegee is a bit closer – about thirty miles from Union Springs.”

“So what exactly does Mr. Silver need me to do?”

“Silver Streak Properties owns some real estate in Three Notch and we could really use a pro like you, Thomasina, to go down there and turn the property around – make the property profitable so that the Silvers can sell.  Believe me Tommie, it would be worth your while.”

“How much Linda?  How much is Mort willing to compensate Thomasina Powell to go down south – where – by the way, I’ve never been?”

“Never been?   (said Linda).

“You heard me.  Never been.  I’ve never been down south.”

“I thought you said you ain’t  (laughing)  never been to Alabama.”

“I ain’t been there either Linda.  I’ve never been down south.”

“What black person has never been down south Tommie?  Haven’t you been to Atlanta?”

“No.  And Atlanta don’t count.  Atlanta isn’t really the south anymore.  too many of us northerners live there now.  I don’t consider Atlanta the south Linda.”

“Well, it’s the south Tommie, whether you consider it the south or not, hot-lanta is the new south.  You should go sometime, you would enjoy it.”

“Ok Linda, the new south – again, how much?”

“Seven grand.”

“Umm, Umm  (I seemed to be lost for words).  Umm, did you say 7 g’s?”

“No, I said seven grand (Linda laughing).  Yes Tommie, seven thousand – that’s not counting your severance package or bonus – seven thousand dollars and your living expenses while you’re there.”

“What in Gods name do I have to do to make seven thousand dollars in Mayberry?”

“What you do best Miss Powell.  Manage property.”

 

To be continued.

 

B. Knox

 

 

 

 

Happy Father’s Day

Where would I be,
Without my Father.
I know where I wouldn’t be,
I wouldn’t be here.
I couldn’t be here!
Simply Because,
It takes a FATHER,
Not a Village.
It takes a MAN,
Not an Idea.
It takes an Event,
Not a Speech.
It takes coming together,
Not apart.
It takes HIS SEED,
To get US Started,
To get US Here!
A chance at LIFE,
A chance to LIVE.
So to all you FATHERS,
The GOOD ones,
The BAD ones,
The Was – Never – Around ones.
If you never do anything else – Anything at ALL.
The ONE BIG THING you did do –
The ONE THING that only YOU could do –
IS ME.

B. Knox

Sallie B.

24 When She Married.
Married, On The 4th of July.
Raised Children, Before giving Birth.
Raised Food, from God’s, Green, Fertile Earth.
Knew Her Gifts – Early in Life.
How to Sow.
How to Sew.
How to Grow –
A FAMILY.
Within a FAMILY.
A Helpmate – As well as a Wife.
Prayed over her Baby.
The one that was Born too Small.
“If you keep Breath in Him.”
“I’ll give Him Attention.”
“Whatever YOU want Him to Be in Life.”
“I’ll help Him to Be it.”
“The LORD helped me to do – What I said I would do.”
“Put your Trust in HIM.”
“HE Won’t Leave You.”

B. Knox

Birth

Birth.

A Natural Happening.

Birth.

A new Life in this huge World.

Birth.

The Child was born in the Morning.

Birth.

A New Child of Our Lord.

Birth.

The cute little Baby.

Birth.

The cutting of the Navel Cord.

Birth.

Such A Wonderful thing.

Birth.

For All Living things.

Birth.

A male and a female and the

Birth.

of their Child.

 

 

B. Knox

Happy Mother’s Day

I have fond memories of Mother’s Day as a child.  Mother’s Day was one day of the year that we most definitely went to church.  My Mom would buy all of us a little red flower to wear, (all 7 of us) over our heart.  She explained to us that the red flower meant your mom was still living and the white flower meant your mom had gone to be with Jesus.

I remember looking at everyone’s flower at church to see what color it was.  A lot of mom’s had gone to be with Jesus.  I would think to myself,  “I’m sure Jesus is as nice as everyone say’s he is” – but, I would look at my mom and thank GOD that my flower was red.

When I think of  people  who didn’t grow up with their mother’s, for whatever reason, my heart goes out to them.  No matter how many disagreements,  silly fights or down right misbehaving me and my mom may have encountered among each other – I thank GOD that my flower is still red.

Happy Mother’s Day!

B. Knox