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An Original Tales From The Copy Center Story


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Jackie's Birthday
Wednesday, January 06, 1999   By: Br'er Juan

A tale of Old South irony.

Tales From The Copy Center 010699

Originally posted  January 6, 1999

 One of our regular customers dropped by the copy center yesterday and, for the first time, brought along her mother, Jackie. Now Jackie is the type of dignified elderly black women one still meets on occasion - one who rose above growing up in the segregated South and acquired an education along with a degree of majesty. She still speaks in the precise manner that Southern ladies, both black and white, learned in the early part of this century as they rose from a devastating war and suffered under economic sanctions imposed by the north for 97 years

 Jackie's excited about her birthday coming up January 19th. She'll be 80 on that day, and she tells a wonderful story from her childhood.

 On her birthday, she and her father would go to downtown Columbia, South Carolina. Downtown was still the shopping and social center of cities in those days. Jackie says she saw decorations, bunting on buildings and bands parading in the streets. She'd ask her father why folks were celebrating. He'd tell her it was because it was her birthday - and she believed him.

 It wasn't until she was a teenager that she learned the truth. And unless you grew up in the old South, as I did, you probably don't get the delicious irony of this story. January 19th was celebrated as fully here as Lincoln's birthday in the North. It's the birthday of Robert E. Lee.

 PS - I'm assuming that you all know more history than most of the reporters and producers I've worked with over the past few years and that you know who Robert E. Lee was. Ha.

Update -  Jackie died about a year after this story was written. Her daughter says Jackie went peacefully in her sleep – no illness, no suffering – she was just gone. Maybe they had decorations and bunting and bands playing for her when she arrived.


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