Today at physical therapy I was asked to walk up a flight of stairs. By the third step my mind knew it would not be a problem to get to the top of the flight. Then I was ask to come back down and I did each and every step as natural as anything. Yes, I am plainly moving on up!!!!!
My dad told of the times he remembered in the early 1920's. The two political parties in Texas were the Ku Klux Klan and the Anti Ku Klux Klan. Wow, that blew my mind. A little online research shows that the Dallas, Ft. Worth area was one of the hotbeds of Klan activity. That fact brings even more credence to Daddy's story about Tennessee, the black hired hand that worked with Paw Paw Rogers.
Tennessee, or Tenny as Daddy called him, lived in a room in a separate building from the "main house". (That is even hard for me to write.) I need you to know that Paw Paw, my dad, Aunt Sissy and Great Aunt Lillis lived in a house that was not much more than a barn itself. If you read John Grisham's A Painted House you get the general idea of farm life in Texas and the South. Paw Paw rented the house and farm land so he was not even as high up as the folks in Grisham's novel. But I digress. The scene is set for the story.
Tenny had left the house for the evening. Paw Paw, who was quite the cut up, decided to play a trick on Tenny. Paw Paw removed his shoes and let them drop loudly on the floor. Evidently the walls were so thin Tenny could hear this from his room. Paw Paw grabs a sheet and sneaks out to Tenny's room. Tenny was sitting at a small table eating boiled potatoes. With the sheet over himself, Paw Paw throws open the door to Tenny's room. Tenny who has a potato in mid air on the way to his mouth promptly falls backwards in a dead faint.
Paw Paw is horrified by the effect of his practical joke and rushes to revive Tenny. All he can do is apologize repeatedly to Tennessee. It never occurred to the white man the impact on the black man seeing what he thought was a Klansman at his door. Tenny forgave him but was ashen for a long time.
The 50 years between the days of the Klan dominance in Texas politics and "All In The Family" had seen changes. No more whites only water fountain in Woolworth's or the court house public restrooms. So when the spin off of "All In The Family" with "The Jefferson's", the sitcom's theme song has more meaning, "Moving On Up". I am certain my climb this morning was nothing compared to the courage, guts and grit of living life in 1920's Texas for a hired hand named Tennessee.