February 6 – Then and Now

by on February 10, 2021 · 3 comments

in From the Soul, Health, Sports

by Ernie McCray

I got my first vaccine for covid-19 on February 6, 2021. One more to go for this old son of a gun.

But when I got back home after my shot I was reminded that this wasn’t the first time that February 6 was special to me, since on that day 61 years ago I took to the court with my teammates in Bear Down Gym at the University of Arizona and got to shaking and baking and whipping outlet passes to start fast breaks and shot the lights out all over the place, and came away with 46 points, a record that stands to this day.

The fun and glory of that will never go away.

And I couldn’t help but think, in those moments, what a difference six decades can make in one’s life. In so many ways.

I was so strong back then physically, even with a bad back, something that’s plagued me since those days.

And, boy, did I need to be as strong as I possibly could be because with a wife and three kids already, and being three months shy of a college degree, I got very little sleep, up late at night writing research papers, and cramming for tests, and warming bottles and changing diapers – with Jack Paar waxing humorously on the “Tonight Show” in the background about the likes of Fidel Castro and JFK and the IRA, the hot topics of the day.

And I was holding down more jobs than the Jamaicans on “In Living Color,” working as: a janitor, a lifeguard, a parker of cars and waiter for a catering service, and part time busboy and dishwasher and holding down the desk and driving the family car for an undertaker. Mowed a few lawns and helped people move in between, a virtual super-duper toiling machine.

Throw a little “Down with Jim Crow!” into the mix and that would cover just about all of my bag of tricks.

I look at myself today and I can’t believe I did all that stuff because I couldn’t come close to doing any of it now to the extent that I did then.

When I stood in the line at Kaiser for my vaccination my back was screaming for me to find a seat, as sitting is the only position that puts it at ease.

And thank goodness I’ll never have to do the amount of studying of anything I had to do back then ever again and hearing a baby scream endlessly, no matter how much I adore the little thing, would be the end of me now and being retired for twenty-two years, no single job would appeal to me, let alone a bunch of gigs.

But some things never change as I still exercise and try to get the world to change for as long as I shall continue to breathe in the Milky Way’s life-giving oxygen.

When I got home from the clinic, feeling no discomfort in any form, I inhaled some herb and looked through the script of Douglas Ward’s timely masterpiece one-act play called “Day of Absence” that some actors and I will be performing on Zoom.

I played around with it a bit, working on a White southern dialect as the drama is a minstrel show with Black actors in whiteface in a story about Black folks who make White privilege possible, suddenly disappearing, en masse, leaving a town utterly aghast, with no one knowing what to do, how to get on with their lives.

After having a little fun, getting my twang on, I took a look at a couple of pieces I plan to read for another Black History Month Event celebrating the Black family through a poetic exploration of “unity, survival, and resilience.”

And then I spent a little time brainstorming how a friend and I can put together a performance of spoken word with jazz and I’m on cloud nine just thinking about it because we’re at that exciting stage of creative endeavors when you don’t yet have an idea of how you want to go about it. What’s the theme going to be? Who is it for? Where can we do it?

I love it. Such ventures brighten my life, and it seems with the Orange American not so prominent on the scene that the creative community is coming more alive and this speaks to the reality, I think, that there are some things aging doesn’t diminish.

I mean I may no longer be able to juke somebody and throw one down now but that was all about enjoying life and I’m still doing that now.

February 6 then, in many ways, is not much different from February 6 a few decades ago.

Blending the past with the present fills me with positive energy and keeps me on the go.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Shirley Sprinkles February 14, 2021 at 2:38 pm

A great story, CharleMack—perfect for my Feb. 6th birthday!


Thomas Gayton February 18, 2021 at 4:03 pm

What a life. VIVA HERMANO!


Lamont Strong February 18, 2021 at 9:32 pm

Sounds like you are living the
Life you want to live, and having a lot of fun doing so! Your story always take me back in time. Love all that you write.


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