For The Young African-American Boy
Readers of the books of fiction featuring Little A, a boy living in the projects of Memphis, are instantly aware that the writer is eminently qualified to focus on this young hero.
Only a person who has taught in the inner city schools is able to create a fictional, yet realistic account of the life of a youngster struggling to find himself in this environment.
John Chipley, whom the boys fondly have dubbed Mr. Chip, taught in Memphis inner-city schools for over fifteen years. In retirement he offers weekly volunteer sessions that focus on encouraging boys to read. This is a lofty goal, for the boys live in homes and neighborhood environments not structured to develop reading skills or dreams of career advancement. Mr. Chip's goal surpasses development of reading ability to encourage the boys to enjoy this privilege.
Chipley is formally prepared to teach, for he holds both Bachelor and Master of Education degrees. However, the most memorable aspect of his classroom presence is his heart. He cares deeply about each one of his students and is there for them both now and in the future. Through the persona of Little A, Chipley gives the boys a fictional character with whom they can identify. Little A's life style echoes theirs. While reading this series of books, the boys witness someone they can relate to. Little A is a wonderful fictional character full of wisdom, character, adventure, and confidence.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.31(d)|
Read an Excerpt
A Necessary Sin
By John Chipley
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2016 John Chipley
All rights reserved.
When I was just a small boy I attended Tillman Street Baptist Church with my mom. One Sunday Pastor Moore preached on how it was a sin to kill. And in our neighborhood there was a lot of both, sinning and killing. Then one day Pastor Moore told me there were two types of sin. There was regular sin and there was something he called a necessary sin.
Pastor Moore told me that a necessary sin was sometimes required once regular sin turned evil. It was the only way to control or stop regular sin. This is what my story is about, regular sin, a necessary sin, and a small white boy named William B. Forester III.CHAPTER 2
He walked into our classroom as if he were king of the school. He just stood there in the doorway and announced to everyone, "Good morning class, I am William B. Forester III, and I am proud to be your new student."
Then he took a long slow extended bow toward the class. He held his bow until we all broke into laughter. He was skinny, and his head seemed too large for his small body. He was as clean as a brand new car and had the brightest, longest, and wildest red hair I'd ever seen. He just looked like trouble. Plus, he was the only white kid in the entire class. Correction, he was the only white kid in the entire school!
He walked over and handed Ms. Kromer, our teacher, a note. It was neatly folded and placed inside a small fancy envelop. Then he just stood there with his arms folded, as if he were some kind of Roman statue. I couldn't help myself and once again burst into uncontrollable laughter. I laughed so hard I thought I was going wet my pants. Ms. Kromer jumped up from her desk, stared directly at me, pointed her old crooked finger at me and motioned for me to immediately exit the room. She didn't have to say a word. I tried to control my laughter, but it was all just too funny.
I walked up the aisle to the front of the classroom, holding my hand over my mouth to avoid any further punishment. When I got to the front of the room I stopped, looked over and down at this very strange looking little white boy and decided to give him a new name, a real name. I said, "Good morning WILEY, welcome to our class'"
He just stood there staring back at me with a look of superiority and replied, "Boy, my name isn't Wiley, my name is William. My name is William B. Forester III!"
I moved a half-step closer, leaned toward William B. Forester III, so close our noses were almost touching, and said, "BOY, you may be William in your world, but in our world I hereby give you the name, Wiley. you remind me of 'Wiley and the hairy man'. Suddenly the entire class once again exploded in laughter.
Once again Ms. Kromer leaped from her seat and started beating on her desk with her ruler demanding immediate silence! And once again she pointed at the door. Her only words were, "The office, Abraham!"
That was how Wiley and I met. We soon became best friends and, sometimes, worst of enemies. We maintained that love/ hate relationship for well over thirty years.
You see, Wiley and I each needed what the other person had. Maybe, instead of friendship, we were both just playing a game. Our game started in the seventh grade at Binghampton Middle School, a school deep in the inner-city of Memphis. A school that taught students the rules of survival more than the rules of reading, writing, and arithmetic. And William B. Forester III and I both turned out to be quick learners, good players, and best friends.CHAPTER 3
My new friend, Wiley, turned out to be the son of a very wealthy Memphis lawyer. So, the obvious question was why was he going to our school, a school located in the projects. Plus, there wasn't another white kid in the entire school. It didn't make any sense. There's an old expression I used to hear the men say down at the corner store. The men said, "This dog just didn't hunt." (This means it just didn't make any sense).
Memphis had lots of very good private schools for all the little rich kids. So, why was Wiley placed in our school? No sir, this dog just didn't hunt, and I was going to find out why. When I returned to class, after a lengthy conversation with the Principal, Wiley was sitting at my desk, and I had been reassigned a new desk right next to Ms. Kromer's desk. I could hear quiet giggles oozing from my classmates as I took my new seat right next to the teacher. William B. Forester III had not been in our class for even one day, or one hour, and he had already won his first victory. Then, while Ms. Kromer was putting our class assignment on the board, I glanced back at Wiley. He looked up at me, smiled, and then flipped me the finger. I politely returned his compliment, then quickly turned around before Ms. Kromer could catch me. Yes, the more I learned about this little white boy, William B- Forester III, the more I liked him. We were like two peas in a pod, only one was white and the other black.CHAPTER 4
At school everything important in our social life happened in the lunchroom, everything! Food was almost not necessary. We had thirty minutes of free time to eat and socialize with our friends. This was the one place and time in the school day where students established who liked who and who didn't. And some days things got pretty rough.
I entered the lunchroom and walked over to the table where I always sat. When I sat down with all my friends I glanced over and saw Wiley. He was sitting by himself at a small table in the corner of the cafeteria. I picked up my tray and walked over to where he was sitting. I just stood next to him and said, "My name is Abraham, but everyone just calls me Little A."
He looked up at me. Then he slid over giving me room to sit next to him. At first neither one of us said a word. It was like a game of who goes first. Wiley won. I was the first to speak. "Wiley, for some strange reason I think I know you. Yet, I also know we've never met. This is totally weird. Do you agree?"
Wiley looked over at me, smiled, and said, "Damn right! You are the weirdest kid I've ever met, but that's okay because I like weird."
When I was growing up, this was the way boys got to know each other. Girls, on the other hand, welcomed other girls by saying things like, "Oh, I just love your hair." But boys insulted each other, and the worse the insult the more they liked you. It was a bonding process. Wiley and I were both very good at insulting each other. By insulting each other we were actually saying "welcome." Soon we became best friends, or maybe even more like brothers. On that first day, following the initial insults, we exchanged very few words. We sat and ate lunch together in almost total silence. When the bell rang, Wiley looked over at me and said, "Thanks, L-A."
Wiley had now branded me with a new name, just like I had given him one. This was how boys played the game of friendship.
With the sound of the bell, we all got up from the table, returned our trays, and slowly meandered our way back to Ms. Kromer's classroom. Our new friendship was hard to explain. Pastor Moore always preached about how God worked through other people. Yet, if God was working through Wiley, He was getting pretty desperate for messengers. But if he were using Wiley, that was my kind of Godi He knew I wouldn't listen to an angel. No one else in the world could have helped me like Wiley, no one! And I think God knew it.CHAPTER 5
For the next few weeks Wiley and I kept testing each other. We each tried to discover as much information about the other person as we could, without looking like we were doing what we were doing.
Wiley discovered that I lived with my mom in the housing projects just down the road from the school. I learned that Wiley's mom died about a year ago and he lived alone with his dad. I also discovered that he lived in the Chickasaw Country Club Neighborhood, a very rich community just down the street from our school. It was weird. If you walked out the front door of our school and turned left you walked into the projects, where I lived. And if you walked out and turned right you walked into the very rich Chickasaw community. It was crazy. Poor people lived to the left side of the school and rich people lived to the right. Crazy!
Wiley told me that when his father was a boy all the people in his neighborhood had servants who did their cooking, cleaning, and took care of the kids. Then Wiley said something that shocked me. I froze in my seat, speechless.
Wiley said, "L-A, my dad was actually raised by a black lady, the maid. Her name was Maggie. She was more like my dad's mom than his real mother. Dad told me she had huge scars all over her arms. She told my dad that she was born with the scars. My dad didn't learn the truth about her abuse as a child until he was an adult. That was when he decided to be a lawyer and defend the rights of all people, especially people of color like Maggie. Maggie raised my dad. And when dad went off to college, he promised Maggie that she would always have a home at their house, always.
Wiley said, "My dad took care of Maggie until the day she died. Dad gave her a funeral befitting a queen. I only wished she could have seen it."
I sat there and listened to every word Wiley spoke, and watched him as he spoke of Maggie. I could see tears forming in Little A: A Necessary Sin his eyes. There was so much I wanted to know about my new friend. His life was so different from mine. And now there was Maggie.CHAPTER 6
Everyone called my mom, Mamma or Big Mamma. I never asked her why. However, she was big and, I heard, once beat the snot out of three teenage boys who tried to steal her purse. She was also a mamma to any kid in the projects who needed a mamma. All the kids called her Mamma and the name stuck.
When I got home from school Mamma was waiting for me. She wasn't supposed to be home until around nine o'clock that night. She should have been at work. I could tell by the look on her face that she had lost her job. I'd seen that look before, I didn't have to ask any stupid questions. I just walked over and gave her a hug. That was all she needed, a hug, not words or questions.
We sat at the kitchen table and I began telling her about my day at school and about my new friend, Wiley. I started laughing as I told Mamma about how Wiley entered the room and announced to the class that he was our new student, William B. Forester III. I laughed as I told Mamma, "He's white, real white, with red hair, real WILD long red hair."
As I started telling Mamma about my day at school and Wiley, she got this strange look on her face as if I had said something wrong. Mamma just sat there, she wasn't laughing. Then she stood up and left the room. In a few minutes she returned with an old family picture album. She wiped years of dust and memories off the cover and placed the album on the kitchen table. Without saying a word she started turning the pages looking for a picture. Then she stopped. She turned the album so I could see the picture. The name at the bottom of the picture was Maggie. I didn't know what to say. "Who's Maggie?" I asked.
As memory began to flood back into her head, Mamma slowly began to cry. Then she stopped. "Maggie was my mother, your grandmother. She abandoned me when I was only five years old."
I asked, "Why didn't you tell me this before?"
Mamma told me it just wasn't important. Maggie just walked out and left her all by herself, alone, in an empty apartment. Mamma told me it was the worst day of her life. She didn't want to remember Maggie, or that day, ever again. Yet, here we were years later and I started telling Mamma about my day at school and my new friend, a white boy named William B. Forester III. Suddenly that horrible day and those hidden memories returned. Again, Mamma began to quietly weep. She wiped away her tears with a napkin and laid her head on top of Maggie's picture. I didn't understand what was happening.
Finally I said, "Mamma, I don't understand."
She replied. "It all started a very long time ago when my mom, Maggie, went to work as a maid for the Forester family. Wiley's father was only five years old."
Then I asked, "What happened?"
Mamma took a deep breath, then she told me the story. "I don't know exactly what happened. I knew that Wiley's grandmother died and Wiley's grandfather needed help raising Wiley's dad. Wiley's family was very wealthy, and they hired my mom to help take care of Wiley's father and clean the house."
"Our family was very poor. When Mr. Forester offered my mom a full time job and her own room over the garage, but no Little A: A Necessary Sin babies, she took it and left me. you see, Maggie, my mom, raised Wiley's father."
"Wiley's father inherited a fortune and became a well known Memphis defense attorney. He took care of Maggie until she died of old age. So, in a weird kind of way, you and Wiley are like step-brothers, or step-cousins, or step-something."
"I never saw my mom again until the day of her funeral. Mr. Forester, Wiley's dad, gave my mamma the grandest funeral I'd ever seen. She must have been a great mamma to someone, just not to me."
After Mamma told me her story, all I could think about was Wiley, my new white step-brother-cousin. It was weird, totally weird. It was also totally exciting!CHAPTER 7
Wiley won the first battle, but the war was far from over. It didn't take long for me to discover that William B. Forester III was lazy. He didn't read. He didn't do anything he didn't want to do. In fact, this was why he was at our school, prior to attending our school he was at an expensive boy's school in Memphis, but was expelled for both behavior and academic issues. At about this time his dad was getting ready to run for the office of governor. His father told the press that he put William in our school to show people that he believed in equality of education for all children. However, William's father was actually just using his own son to gain the black vote. The fact was, Wiley was a trouble maker. I think Wiley's real choice was our school or Juvenile Court. Wiley was becoming more and more interesting to me with every passing day. And it only took me one day at the public library to go on line and find out everything I needed to know about Wiley and his father.
The first thing I learned was that Wiley wasn't real smart. The next thing I learned, he was always in trouble. Next, I learned that his mom died and he lived alone with his dad. However, the big news was I learned Wiley had been left a trust fund of over $2,000,000.00, available to him at the age of twenty-one. Wiley was rich, VERY rich! Yes, Wiley was getting more interesting by the day.
Wiley seemed to have had everything, everything but friends and a family. But now he had a friend, me. And I wasn't his friend for selfish reasons. I really liked him. In many ways we were very much alike. I just happened to be a little smarter and more ambitious than he was. I wasn't pretending to be his friend, I WAS his friend! We were from different worlds, yet we were amazingly alike.
I told Mamma about Wiley and how he lived alone with his dad, and how his dad wasn't there most the time. I asked Mamma if Wiley could come home with me over the week-end. Mamma agreed. She knew that if we didn't do something, Wiley was on a one way road in the wrong direction. So she agreed to take a closer look at this strange little white kid.
The next day at school I asked Wiley if he wanted to spend the week-end with Mamma and me. He didn't look all that excited. However, he said, "Sure, anything is better than my house, anything!"
That was a strange answer, but more than strange it was sad. But when school ended on Friday we both walked home to my apartment and to Mamma. Soon, very soon, my mamma became like his new mamma. It was easy for me to see how much he needed a mom. And Mamma always had room for one more child. The two were like magnets attracting each other. Our family now consisted of three, not two.
Mamma saw the same thing I saw in Wiley. He was a kid that desperately needed a family, a real family. But, most of all he needed rules. Wiley was used to making his own rules.
However, it didn't take long for Wiley to learn that Mamma made the rules at our house, not him! It all boiled down to who was the boss, Mamma or Wiley. I tried to tell him, but he wouldn't listen. And nothing could have demonstrated who the boss was more than the Saturday night bath.
Excerpted from Little A by John Chipley. Copyright © 2016 John Chipley. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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