Not exactly sure what he was asking, I replied, “The most immediate reunion is this weekend. No telling when the one after that will be held.”
He said that he was going to be in town visiting his mother this weekend and would like to attend. “You could tell ’em you’re Jim Stone,” I told him. “I got an email from his this morning saying he wasn’t going to be able to make it.”
To be honest, the name Gerald Love was familiar, but I couldn’t put a face to the name. That’s not unusual. I have a memory for events and dialog, but have a real problem linking people and names.
Gerald Love AKA Jim Stone
“I’ve been running from that name since 1967, but I’ll have to say ‘yes.'”
“I’m Gerald Love. I’d heard you were a practical joker, but when you suggested I check in using the name Jim Stone, I thought that might be tough. I remember Jim as being a redhead.”
Retired from the Air Force
Gerald spent most of his adult life in the Air Force, programming coordinates into nuclear missiles. (He assured us that there are safeguards that would keep a rogue programmer from sending a missile into his ex-wife’s house.)
How did he get into that job? When it came time to take tests to determine his occupational specialty, he failed every section except one dealing with electronics. The scorer called him aside and said, “This is highly unusual. How could you fail math, English and all of those other sections, but get 100% on electronics?”
“If I had scored high in those areas,” Gerald said, “You’d have made me a cook or a clerk or something. I wanted into electronics.”
The tester assumed that anyone who could game the system like that was someone who could do well as a programmer, so he passed him on to electronics.
What was Cape really like?
As the conversation went on, I felt like it would be OK to ask Gerald something that had been on my mind for years: race relations in Cape. I raised the issue on Obama’s inauguration day on my other blog.
“Cape schools were integrated by the time we got into high sch0ol and I don’t recall any issues between the races, but I’m looking at it from a majority white viewpoint. What was your perspective?
“There was no friction with the kids,” he replied. “There might have been some adults with problems, but not the kids.”
This isn’t going to work out
Then, Gerald shared the story of when he first became aware of his skin color and prejudice. You could tell that it was something that bothers him more than half a century later.
“I once heard about a job to go house to house selling stuff. I was the only black kid who showed up. All of the other kids were white. I knew them all from the neighborhood. This adult called me into the back of the room and said, ‘I don’t this is going to work out.'”
“Why? I can sell.”
“‘No, you don’t understand. This is to go door to door to sell,’ he tried to explain.”
“That’s no problem. I’m used to walking.”
“‘No, you still don’t understand, I’m not sure people will open their door to you,’ he said, finally.”
“There was a narrow little alley running from that store to my house. I cried all the way home because I kept thinking, what is this? [Looking at his arm.] Is the only reason I didn’t get the job? I went and told my mom and she said, “I’ve been meaning to talk with you about this for some time. I guess it’s time now.”
Gerald’s mother was an incredible woman
Gerald told us how hard his mother, Geraldine Love, worked to provide for him and his seven siblings. She saw to it that every one of them went to college.
March 13, 2002, the Missouri House of Representatives passed House Resolution 782 which said, in part:
Whereas, on March 16, 1927, in Belzoni, Mississippi, God brought a special gift to this great nation with the birth of an adorable infant by the name of Geraldine Young; and
Whereas, while celebrating her Seventy-fifth Birthday, Geraldine Young Love will have the opportunity to reminisce about some of the significant events in her life such as moving to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where she graduated from John S. Cobb High School; marrying Henry Love (deceased); and giving birth to two sons and six daughters; and
Whereas, God has blessed Geraldine Love with the loving devotion of a wonderful family whose members include her children, Gerald, a retired member of the United States Air Force who lives in Nebraska; JoAnn, a personnel director for the federal government who lives in the Washington, D.C., area; Hannah, a registered nurse who lives in St. Louis; Glenda, a retired member of the United States Air Force who lives in Nebraska; Henry, a dialysis nurse practitioner who lives in St. Louis; Jennifer, a medical records transcriber who also lives in St. Louis; Jeanne, a computer information specialist and teacher who lives in Jefferson City; and Gail, who was a certified public accountant prior to her untimely passing; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all of whom have been the light of her life; and
Whereas, Geraldine Love distinguished herself after the death of her husband by solely raising eight children under the age of 19 in a two-bedroom shack, where she somehow managed to put enough money aside to eventually buy a nice, clean brick house with three bedrooms and a basement; and
Now, therefore, be it resolved that we, the members of the Missouri House of Representatives, Ninety-first General Assembly, unanimously join in extending our most hearty congratulations and special birthday greetings to Geraldine Love at this significant milestone and in wishing her much peace and contentment as she continues to enjoy her golden years…
Mrs. Love died June 29
When I sent Gerald a note asking for permission to tell his story about the sales job he didn’t get, he sent the sad news that his mother had passed away on June 29. Here is her obituary in The Missourian.
I’m sorry that I didn’t know her. She sounds like an extraordinary woman.