I had so wanted to post this yesterday on Father’s Day but remember yesterday was also my bestie’s wedding so I just didn’t have time. 😞
My girls Grandmother, Donekia Day Brown, my ex husbands mother, my friend, my second mom, wrote this Tribute to her father, Derry Johnson, and I felt I had to share it. I was so touched when I read this, I shed tears. She writes so passionately about her father. This is perfect for Father’s Day… Enjoy..
A CENTENNIAL TRIBUTE
DERRY “Candy Lee” JOHNSON
100 Years Legacy
JUNE 14th 1914 – JUNE 14th 2014
My father, Derry Johnson was born exactly one hundred years ago on June 14th 1914(6.14.14) he died on December 24th 1990. He left behind a legacy through his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren that is rich, colorful, and diverse as a beautiful quilt.
Derry was an unsung hero like so many men of color that helped build our country, communities and culture in the last century. He was a part of the American fabric much like a Norman Rockwell picture. He life was one of many rails laid in the name of progress, moving blacks forward to a better future as did the underground railroad. His was a unusual; usual life. A humble man spawned from a humble beginning. He was as unique as he was an everyman. He was my “DADDY”.
His life began on the Delta in Mississippi. His family were “sharecroppers” living and working the land. His father like so many fathers of the time was another spectrum of “Mister” and his mom (my Big Mama) was truly the sweet soft spoken gentle shade of “Miz. Ceeily. They were the product of the world of dirt and cotton and discrimination . My dad had a fire in him that wanted better. He dreamed of a life for him and a lanky, barefoot , cat-eyed girl on the next farm named Laura (aka Loretta), but I called her “mommy”. His love for her and his hatred of the injustices that existed was the nectar of motivation he needed. So at the ripe “old” age of seven years old (that’s right people s-e-v-e-n) he sat out into the world, riding the rails (hobo) to make a life for himself and to keep the promise he made to the girl he loved. That he would return one day for her (he kept that promise,like so many others he made to himself). When daddy turned seven it was the beginning of prohibition, the roaring twenties, the jazz age. People, it was a different America, a kid on his own was not questionable. There were no laws, childcare, DCFS, those things did not exist. He educated himself in the manner of Lincoln, teaching himself to read. Over time my dad learned and mastered a variety of skills and trades that not only better his life, it enriched the lives of us all. It allowed us,his children to live a self sufficient carefree childhood. My Dad was a skilled carpenter, electrician, barber, cook, auto mechanic, body repairman, roofer, steelworker, railroad man, driver, fisherman etc..etc… He could cut my brothers hair, cook breakfast, repair dents in the car and paint it, install a new furnace all in the someday. He attack every task with the precision and perfection of a Maestro directing the philharmonic.
Daddy was talented and very witty with a “thousand watt” smile, known to friends and family as “Candy Lee” ( nickname of his first grandson/Candy) he was always “easy breezy”. He could speak french fluently (from the war) if you asked him. His walk had a cadence that was deliberate and stealthy. He was a man’s man. His was not an easy life or journey but he never complained or spoke ill of it, not one single day. He never raised his voice to my mother or us. He never called any women out of her name. He never used the word “lie” especially when speaking to my mother. He never refuse my mother any thing she wanted, any dream she had, any good deed she wanted to do. He never turned anyone away from his table or door. My dad did the “hard work” so that my mom could do “good works”. He was her number one fan and happy to be it. His best friend was his brother Walter Jr. “Uncle Bud”. He was devoted to his mom Bertha Mae(Big Momma), and sister Mary Lee. He cherished his children and adored his grandchildren (especially that Cakes). He was the definition of an honorable man. Once, a teller at the Cottage Grove currency exchange accidentally gave my father an envelop with at least ten thousand in it. Although we had bills due, groceries needed, etc. when my father got home and realized the mistake, without hesitation or discussing he immediately went back to the exchange and return it. That teller, was so grateful, she became a lifelong family friend. That was my dad.
My dad was born during the infancy of the twentieth century. A century that saw huge leaps in civilization progress. In his lifetime he witness the modernization of our culture and country. He saw great presidents (FDR;Eisenhower: Kennedy), leaders (Ghandi;M.L.K.), sports legends (Jessie Owens, Joe Louis; Jackie Robinson) and history being made (five U.S. wars). He fought in WWII and was proud of it (he received medals). From slice bread to microwave popcorn he witness and enjoyed everything in his lifetime. His was an ordinary, extraordinary life.
By; Day Day
This is dedicated to the Great-Grandchildren of Derry Johnson, who unfortunately missed seeing his smile. (it was so worth it!)
By: Day Day
the above Tribute has been shortened and is only a part of what
Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for my post about the great 1920’s wedding I attended later in the week!! Until then comment, follow, like, share!