Sam Lacy was a sports editor and columnist for the Afro-American Newspapers.
A few days ago I had a conversation with my toughest critic of 47 years. I was wondering if the theme of my most recent efforts may start to get boring to the readers. My instructions were to keep the flow going because most of the news had been reported and the public was up to speed, but the interesting things in Sam’s life were fresh and readable. According to my critic, AFRO Publisher Jake Oliver will pick up the phone and tell me, “Enough!” when the saga of Sam has run its course.
In my last effort, I gave you a look at the tender side of Sam. This week I am going to explore a side I find amusing that describes his general outlook perfectly.
Sam was a humanitarian, but there were some things he just didn’t let ruffle his feathers or disturb the “Force” around him.
As a kid, I discovered I had inherited the hustle gene that was responsible for Sam picking his path to the future. He would shag fly balls at Griffith Stadium (home of the Washington Senators at the time) and go for errands for the ball players. These activities were in the interest of his pursuit of a buck. However, this also led him to wonder why some of the Negro players with more talent weren’t playing in the White leagues. What started out as a quest for another nickel led him to a quest for equality for colored players.
My hustle gene led me to the collection of newspapers. In the 1940s, there was a premium on tin cans and newspapers. I would scrounge up all of the papers I could find, and take them to the junk yard. On a good day, I could make as much as a buck. With a load that big, my tired little wagon was really put to the test. One trip left me gazing at a broken wheel and dealing with frustration. A buddy of mine lived in a house a few yards from my calamity, so I went to borrow a hammer. I can’t tell you what I thought I was going to do with a hammer, but his pop seeing my distress called my pop. Sam arrived, transferred my papers from the wagon to his car, and I could only look out the back window at my tired little wagon as we drove off into the sunset. I had no idea at the time, but this set the tone for things to come.
As a young adult, I enjoyed bonding with my pop on the golf course. We would lug our bags over the hilly terrain of Rock Creek Golf Course and come just short of passing out at the end of the round. Top Value Stamps (you fill a book and turn it in for merchandise) were popular at the time. Sam and I saved enough stamps to purchase pull carts. We would load our bags on the carts from week to week and enjoy our round of golf without the fatigue interfering with our bonding. Soon came the day when the carts were getting a little too rickety to handle the load. Sam unloaded the bags and tossed the carts into the woods. I looked back as we walked away and visions of my wagon danced before my eyes.
A few weeks later the prospect of shouldering his bag around the course turned out to not be an option for Sam. His answer to the problem was to rent an electric cart to ride. We were tooling along having a grand ole time when the cart hit a slippery spot and flipped. We were able to bail out, but we were staring at an upside down golf cart. As I prepared to try and turn the cart over, I saw Sam gather his bag and head for the next hole. All I could think of was, “Another one bites the dust.”
I guess Sam’s philosophy was, “If you are coming along, you have got to carry your weight.”