Sam Lacy was a sports editor and columnist for the Afro-American Newspapers.
Most kids who are fortunate enough to grow up having a relationship with their fathers often view the old man as a kind of Superman. It was no different for me. However, I was on hand when Superman bumped into a dose of kryptonite.
In those days, street cars were a popular mode of transportation, and Sam was a faithful trolley rider. It was early evening, and Sam was due home from work. There was a knock on the door and a taxi driver was standing there supporting a very sick Sam. He saw Sam leaning over a mail box throwing up. Passersby dismissed Sam as just another drunk, but fortunately, the cab driver recognized Sam from his photo in the AFRO.
As it turned out, Superman’s kryptonite came in the form of an ulcer. I wasn’t old enough to crash the age restrictions at the hospital, but Sam’s connections saw to it that Sam had a room with a window on the street. I would go to the hospital and visit from the street.
In those days, Sam would drive to Richmond to referee basketball games at the Black colleges. There was a game with Sam calling the transgressions, and as the game began to wind down so did Sam. As we prepared to leave, I noticed that Sam was having difficulty remaining upright. As he sought relief in some bushes behind the car, I realized that kryptonite had struck once again.
As Sam had been teaching my mom to drive, I was lucky enough to garner a few lessons. This came in handy because Sam crawled up in the back seat and I had to drive. If they had social media in those days, I guarantee my wide-eye, white-knuckle trip from Richmond would have gone viral.
My Aunt Rosina (Sam’s sister) had an apartment in New York. I would spend some time in the summer running the streets of St. Nicholas Place. I was surprised that I got an early call to join Auntie for a few weeks. Sam had been on assignment, and things were a little boring at home. My mom was a hell of a cook, but she couldn’t catch a ping pong ball in a peach basket. Until all of my gang was out of school, I was on my own. New York was welcome.
Upon my arrival, I noticed my aunt was a little more serious than usual. It became clear when she told me that kryptonite had struck again. I changed clothes and we headed for the hospital. This was going to be interesting because New York had strict age restrictions for visitors. I had no trouble getting in because the look on Rosina Lacy Howe’s face warned all that unless you had a death wish, leave it alone. She and Superman were cut from the same cloth.