One Sees a Lot in a Lifetime

by on January 18, 2023 · 3 comments

in From the Soul

by Ernie McCray

You live long enough
you see a lot of things,
both good and bad
and in-between
in a lifetime
and I find myself
from time to time
remembering things I’ve seen
over my more than
three-quarters of a century
of being alive and breathing,

like lately,

I saw in my mind,

after watching some

police wrongdoing on TV,

scenes of me,

cruising in my car

having a groovy day,

and the fuzz creeps up on me

with some jive about

looking for some suspects in a burglary

like that has something to do with me

sitting in my driver’s seat,

wearing my tennis outfit

with tennis balls and a tennis racquet

in the seat in the back –

déjà vu of the hazards

of “driving while Black.”

Then scenes from my past

started flashing before me

and I’m randomly seeing

things I’ve once seen:

signs in a park when I was a boy

that made fun of “Japs,”

water slowly dripping

from the “Colored Only” water tap

in a bus station down south

while White people drank

from fountains

where the water went down their throats

and all over their faces and mouths,

the smile on my mother’s face

when I earned a college degree,

Sister Mary Benedict

coming after me with a yardstick

as I pray to Jesus to make her trip.

I see troops coming home

at the end of World II

and Korea and Vietnam too,

Don Larsen pitching a perfect game

in the ’56 World Series

on TV,

the first in post-season history,

Tucson High School Cheerleaders

leading students and our fans


“Ernie! Ernie!

He’s our man!

If he can’t do it!

Nobody can!”

Then I was seeing

one of my favorite teachers

writing me an inspiring note

about an essay I wrote,

White girls in my 6th grade class

swooning over the Beatles,

the Black girls practically fainting over Marvin Gaye

when they came on the scene,

the first landing on the moon,

the news of the assassinations of

JFK, RFK, Medgar, Malcolm X,

and the good Doctor King,

the signing of

the Voting Rights Act

after all the pepper spraying

and fire-hosing

and whipping

and jailing

and biting and nipping,

a woman, the first to do so,

occupying a seat

in the Supreme Court,

and the first to travel in space,

a Black man

ascending to the presidency

and doing so with aplomb and grace.


And that’s but a blip of a fraction
of what I’ve seen
but there’s a scene
in my 84 years of living
I’ve yet to see,
one that I would delightfully embrace:
the evolving of a more gentle human race.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Shirley Sprinkles January 18, 2023 at 5:01 pm

Oh, how wonderful to go back in time with you! Eighty-Four of our years were unlike any others in history. What we saw and experienced were macro-changes across this little planet! No other generation has lived through such a complicated, yet magnificent passage. I’m so glad that we two were not just spectators, but change-agents. The risks we took, often stumbling to stay on our feet, were well-worth it. I like to think we’ve made a difference, even when it was an uncomfortable one. I’m grateful for rear view mirrors, aren’t you?


Frank Gormlie January 18, 2023 at 9:15 pm

You’re an inspiration to all of us, Ernie!


Thomas L Gayton January 19, 2023 at 10:59 am



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