MEET MY FAMILY – MY DAD

Roy Lee Payne, Sr. aka Charlie Leroy Payne

Roy Lee Payne, Sr. aka Charlie Leroy Payne

Say Hello to my dad, Roy Lee Payne Sr. He grew up in Florida and his real name at that time was Charlie Leroy Payne. He changed it after a time.  Daddy passed away on Veterans Day, November 11, 1987 at the age of 66. He had a heart attack and when my mom found him, he was just laying back on the bed.

Growing up in Florida in the early 1920s and 30s was difficult for African-Americans to say the least. My dad, I came to believe, was a victim of those times and it translated into him being a cruel man most of his young life, as a father, and dad. No matter. Maybe if I had seen and experienced the things he did, I might have morphed into someone other than who I am now.

My dad only had a 3rd grade education and could only really write his name. I believe that is why he was so adamant that all of his 7 children complete high school. We all did and went further in our education and careers.

I remember a time when my dad got his first real good paying job, one that could have brought his family up a notch, if his mind had been on them. Like most people, he could do the job masterfully, but because of the 50s and 60s and the lack of rights for black men, the establishment used every tactic to get rid of him and other black men working as skilled tradesmen. It didn’t matter that white men worked as skilled tradesmen during that time and that many of them couldn’t even sign their names. They literally made an “X” on a line and someone who could write witnessed it. These men didn’t have to get their skills validated by reading a detailed text book, about 300 pages long and do the assignments in them and turn them in. Only my dad and others of his “persuasion” had to. My dad couldn’t read well, at all. So when he cursed and threw the book in the floor and stomped away saying he could get another  job, my mom picked up the book and with her 9th grade education she read the lessons, did his homework for him; he copied it down in his own writing and turned the work in. To the chagrin of his superiors, my dad got his skilled trades certificate and license and worked at that job until he retired. Family is important, don’t forget that.

As a teen and young adult, he saw things that made him very private about his life. He never talked about it. My mom and my aunt, his sister would relay things about his family history from those early years. For instance, as a young teen he was on the chain gang. We don’t know why. He was a marine as a young adult and served in the Korean War, a war not many Korean vets talk about. Neither did he.  He and some of his friends were walking home in the evening after working their jobs in the south where they lived. When they separated to go to their various destinations, some white men came and for no reason beat up one of his dear friends, and killed him. They put him on the railroad tracks for the train to run over him, but when the train came, it was moving very slowly and was able to stop before striking his friend’s corpse. Another time, while working for another white boss, the boss’s two sons kept throwing snakes on him. The boss told the sons to leave “Charlie” alone. They didn’t. They kept up this cruel game until my dad had had enough. He beat up both of the boys. Later, of course, a group of “interested parties” came to his mom’s home and wanted to “talk” to him about beating up two white boys. My grandmother didn’t tell them where he was. In traditional manner, during those times, they beat her and my aunt. What they didn’t know was my dad was coming through the back door with his knife. When it was all over, he left out the back door. Nuf said.

Daddy maintained a rough exterior that kept anyone from getting in. That is my one regret. I don’t know anything about being a ‘Daddy’s girl’. More tomorrow.

Rosa

 

MEET MY FAMILY – UNCLE AMOS

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Uncle Amos Payne

This is my dad’s brother, Amos Payne. He is the only uncle that I knew and visited and loved until he passed away in 1998. He was the youngest boy in my dad’s family. I really loved being around him in those later years. He lived in Syracuse, NY with his sister. He was a navy man in his younger years.

Suffice it to say that my Uncle Amos was a lady’s man.

Even though I may have talked to him on the phone from time to time, it was on the occasion of a death in our family that my uncle came and visited us. That was the first time I remember seeing him. He has the distinction of being the first to introduce my 3-year old daughter, Erika to coffee. I came over my mom’s house after work because she baby sat Erika, and Uncle Amos and Erika were sitting at the table talking and drinking coffee, and eating KFC. He had his cup of coffee and Erika had her cup of coffee and they were chatting like two old people. I’ll never forget that.

Here’s a picture of one of his daughters, Cousin Fannie. I just love her and we talk on the phone about once a  month.

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Cousin Fannie

As I’ve already said, my dad and his siblings all were born before the turn of the 20th Century and early into it. During that time my family owned land and it wasn’t looked upon ‘nicely’ at that time. They grew crops, even cotton. They were farmers and the land was fertile. It made people want that land. They didn’t sell their land to those “interested parties.”

Picture a night in the late 30s or early 40s when my young Uncle Amos grabbed his mom and younger sister and ran through the woods, scared and desperate to get away from those “interested parties” who wanted to kill them and take their land from them. Some of those “interested parties” wore white sheets. My family members got to the road and there was a bus coming. It stopped and let them on. My Uncle Amos pulled out his knife and put it to the driver’s throat and said, “Don’t stop ’til I tell ya to.” They made it off their farm with their lives.

Sadly, they never returned to their farm for fear of being killed. They settled in another part of Florida and lived. I am glad my Uncle Amos made it out with Grandma and Auntie. Otherwise, I might not have known him. More tomorrow.

MEET MY FAMILY – UNCLE JESSE

I love history and the children of historic figures, whether well-known historic figures of rarely know historic figures. One woman, whom I loved and knew since my oldest child was just six months old, and who passed away 16 years ago at the age of 86 or 87 knew Civil War scout and freedom fighter Harriet Tubman when Ms. Tubman was an old woman. When I heard that, I began panting and my heart started beating faster. When she told me that I exclaimed, “You knew Harriet Tubman? WOW. ”

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Harriet Tubman late in life

Family and friends are important. I want you to meet a member of my family. He was a historic figure, too. My dad’s brother. His name was Jesse James Payne. You can Google my uncle’s name and find out a lot more about him. You see he was lynched on October 11, 1945 in Madison, Florida.

Uncle Jesse my dad's brotherab

Uncle Jesse James Payne

I never knew Uncle Jesse personally. He along with my dad and his other siblings lived in Florida before the turn of the 20th century and early into it. As records were not kept well for anyone during those times, I suggest to you that my Uncle Jesse was born between 1915 and 1918. When he died he was between 20 and 30 years old. This is the only picture we have of him, too. I’m glad otherwise, like many other of his sisters and brothers we wouldn’t know anything about him.

He is a famous historical figure from those times because the Florida governor had to address the lynching of my uncle and of three other high-profile black men that year. Tourism was good in Florida. They didn’t want anything to happen to those revenues.

Out of 11 to 13 children that my grandparents had, I only knew of five of them, one being my dad. And I only had contact with three of them; one being my dad. I’m not angry, just sad that I never got a chance to meet Uncle Jesse, his wife or my cousin, his only child that I know of.

In this picture he looks a little like Dr. King, don’t you think. He has a noble face. More tomorrow.

Online reference:

http://florida.universitypressscholarship.com/view/10.5744/florida/9780813061047.001.0001/upso-9780813061047-chapter-006