Topic assignment: Laughter           Read in Terry Wilson’ writing class 11/13/14


george-tateI am not laughing. I’m sad. George Tate passed away, and I did not have time in the last year to contact him. For a year on my “to do list” I have had “write note to Ann and George”. But I didn’t because I didn’t know what to write. All of this stemming from what should have been a good documentary that could be used in teaching. Instead it was a bust.

Most of all I am saddened that over two years I have not had contact with two people with whom I used to be close.

So since the topic is laughter….I will talk about George and his laughter. I have many hours of video which couldn’t be used because they preferred it to be on their intercultural marriage. And so, I obliged.

But, I can still see and hear George as he told his many many stories of his life. So many they are hard to recall. I remember especially the one when Martin Luther King came to the city of Chicago and the infamous Mayor Daley gave him the key to the city. The previous evening Dr. King had gathered a small group of friends who were activists in the community. George Tate was one of them. As George told the story they were all teasing Martin about being so important and would he remember them when. Then Martin got serious and told his small group that he had invited them deliberately for that reason. He said fame does things to people and he wanted each of them to vow that if and when they ever saw him drifting from the mission, he expected them to contact him.

George went on to say with his beautiful teeth showing his big smile, his manner of laughing at himself, “Oh Pat, we were so naïve.” “We thought Martin’s visit meant things were really going to go well for us”. “What we came to find out, the minute Martin left the Mayor’s office, Mayor Daley called in all of his various inspectors telling them that apparently there were a number of local ministers who had too much time on their hands. He ordered all inspectors to go to their churches and find problems with the buildings.

Another story George told was how he and a group of the protestors went to Marshall Field’s in the heart of Chicago. They drank out of the fountains marked “For white only”. They were reprimanded, “Can’t you see the sign?” “Sorry sir, can’t read,” George responded.   George had a PhD.

George was a humble man not one filed with rage and anger. Perhaps it was his age or perhaps because he was raised by and became one, a minister.

No one who has ever known George can not help but remember his soft, gentle, laughter. He was truly a great man. And now, I smile as I think that perhaps he and our mutual friend, George Manner are strolling the heavens together reminiscing over the old times at SFCC.

I can feel the sadness leaving me. I can see that smile.

I love you George….may you rest in peace.