Another Viewpoint: “Out of Retirement”

by: Tim Lacy Special to the AFRO
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For the past few years, I have been enjoying the luxury of not having to make the trip to the office to submit my weekly offering. I have been developing my columns and submitting them through e-mail. From time to time I will get a call from my boss with a suggestion or a question about my work. All in all, my recliner has occupied a large part of my life.

For quite awhile, I’ve gotten calls asking if I would share my experiences with a group of people interested in the life of Sam Lacy. He was my Pop, my friend and my mentor and sharing the things I learned and witnessed was something I found pleasurable. As Father Time got a firm grip on me, these invitations became a lot less pleasurable. 

The answer to this was to apologetically say no. This gave my wife a great amount of pleasure because, as my sidekick and driver, she came to the conclusion that since I wasn’t getting paid, the inconvenience was hardly worthwhile.

I would respond when there were kids involved, but for the most part I was enjoying my newfound freedom and my chair.

A few months ago my phone rang. A voice said, “Tim, hi, this is Camay.” Camay being Camay Murphy, a part of the family that owns this publication, daughter of the popular 40’s band leader, Cab Calloway, and a friend.  She is someone who wouldn’t bother you unless there was a need or a mission involved. This time it was both. She wanted me to speak to a group about Sam’s experiences with the Negro Leagues. I was there with Sam most of the time, and I had some great stories I could share with this group. Piece of cake. I asked her to call me with the details closer to the date, and she could count on me.

When I received my reminder call, I was told that this was a fundraiser for a group dedicated to keeping alive the legacy of Negro League player Ernest Burke, and it was being held in Havre de Grace, Md.. Mrs. L wasn’t happy about a trip to Havre de Grace, but she didn’t complain.

I was dealing with a different problem. I had compiled a list of anecdotes about players like “Satchel” Paige, who it was said could throw a strike over a matchbook. There was also “Cool Papa” Bell, who was so fast he walked into his hotel room, turned out the light and was in bed before the room got dark.  These anecdotes were now just scribbles on a piece of paper. These people wanted to know the story of Ernest Burke and to know Sam’s story a little better.  

My research showed that Burke’s legacy was built around the fact that he was from the small town of Havre de Grace, and never claimed to be from the big city, which in this case was Baltimore. Fortunately I knew Sam’s story from years of listening and participating in some of his accolades. This was a walk in the park because his life story was strewn with years of strife and humor, and the crowd seemed to enjoy my rendition. Mrs. L enjoyed herself, which was obvious when she broke discipline and went back for seconds.

I am happy to say this was an enjoyable experience and my recliner didn’t miss me. Camay can call on me anytime.

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