Sam Lacy was a sportswriter and editor for the Afro-American Newspaper chain for six decades.
Some people who have had the opportunity to interact with Sam Lacy see him as a man with a special talent, and others see him as larger than life. I have to admit that throughout my life I have taken a seat on both sides of the aisle.
I thought when I reached the final chapter of “He Made a Difference,” I had covered his journey thoroughly, but upon reflection I realized I had only scratched the surface. The following is an account of some of the things I find interesting and should not be omitted when telling Sam’s story.
Sam and I shared the same godmother. Rachel was sister to my grandmother and wore the Shinnecock heritage proudly. My parents both worked, and I spent my days in the care of Rachel and my grandmother. She was my great aunt, babysitter, teacher, playmate and friend. The one flaw I discovered in her make-up was her fear of motorized transportation. She would walk from Maine to Florida before she got on a bus.
On one of her ventures to downtown, she took a few shortcuts. Lo and behold, as she saved a few steps cutting through an alley, she came upon Sam cutting school to play baseball with his delinquent buddies. Assuming the role of the proper Shinnecock aunt, she dropped a lecture on them that left them with beet red ears. And, Sam had to face the music when he came home.
Sam was a very clean person. He never passed a shower he didn’t like. My mom was fond of telling the story of Sam showing up for their wedding, and as he walked down the aisle, every step he took foot powder would squirt out of his shoes.
I remember the year the Santa Clause myth went out of the window. I received an archery set for Christmas. The bow was a little too hard for a 5-year-old to string. So, helpful dad stepped in to string the bow. I heard this snap and a moment later a sound that resembled a cuss word, and there stood Sam with two pieces of the bow in his hand. I am not sure, but I think I heard the tom-toms beating which would be fitting to match the red in his face. The next day he came from work with a new archery set. It occurred to me that Santa and Pop shopped at the same store.
As a kid I was taught to remain in place if we got separated. Boarding a New York subway train, I was shuffled back by the rushing adults and I missed the train. Remembering my lessons, I refused the aid of a man offering to help. Amid the argument, Sam disembarked from the train returning from the other direction.
This lesson came back in reverse on one occasion when I became an adult. We were on our way to the racetrack. We were in separate cars, and I was following Sam. Abruptly, he changed lanes and took the exit ramp. I was stuck in my lane, but I remembered my lessons. I made it to the return lane, and spotted a car with a bunch of guys with their heads buried in the newspaper. I thought, “These guys must be going to the track.” I followed them, and sure enough, Sam was waiting when I arrived. Lesson learned.