Monday, September 27, 2010

The Train They Call The City Of New Orleans 1965 And The Warmth Of Other Suns A New Book About The Black Migration in the Early 20th Century

Click to enlarge the above picture.

My wife and I rode The City Of New Orleans train in March of 1965 from Chicago to New Orleans.

More about that later.
  There is a new book out about the great migration of blacks from the South in the early 1900's.
But I remember seeing many blacks riding the train South from Chicago. I know they go home to visit relatives. Some are even now moving back down South.

  Now this book title strikes me as somewhat odd. It must refer to the summer months. Because in no way could going to Chicago in the winter months from Mississippi be under warmer suns when they arrived in Chicago.
  Here is the real meaning of the title:
The title of this book is taken from Richard Wright's "Black Boy: A Record of Childhood and Youth": "I was taking a part of the South to transplant in alien soil, to see if it could grow differently, if it could drink of new and cool rains, bend in strange winds, respond to the warmth of other suns, and, perhaps, to bloom."

Here is the wikipedia  page on The Great Migration of blacks from the South.
In the club car of the train City Of New Orleans I overheard a black man telling a black woman as we headed south on The City Of New Orleans about Sigmund Freud. The man said "You've got your id and your ego and your super ego". He had asked her if she knew who Sigmund Freud was. She said no.

  I would say that most all of the passengers heading south on the train were black. I know that they return for reunions and that often they left their children with their grandparents and went North and would return to visit them.

Click and double click to enlarge the picture above. It was taken on our trip south in March of 1965 on the train from Chicago to New Orleans. This was the stop in Batesville, Mississippi. The train no longer goes through there. Batesville is no longer a stop. If you enlarge you will see that most of the passengers getting off or getting on going south are black.

  It is interesting to note also that Steve Goodman wrote his song City Of New Orleans about going south from Chicago to New Orleans not north from New Orleans to Chicago.
   I will say that the ride South in 1965 was exactly like he wrote in his song. Same towns, same scenes, same everything.
  I remember we left Chicago in March of 1965. There was a blizzard going on in Chicago. The winds off Lake Michigan blew men's hats off their heads and down the streets.
 I saw an ace of hearts playing card frozen in the ice on a sidewalk in Chicago and took a picture of it. Click and double click to enlarge it.

    When we got to Hammond, Louisiana it was warm and azaleas were in bloom. It felt like the best spring possible. In fact it was so warm when we got to New Orleans we had to take our coats off.
 It felt so good to be out of that snow and ice and cold wind of Chicago. New Orleans never looked better or felt better to me before or since. Walking from the train station to the French Quarter I was really glad to be back in New Orleans.

Later I worked in 1966 in the Delta as an anti poverty worker teaching blacks to read and write.
  When I  worked in Mound Bayou,Mississippi I learned they have a reunion every year around July. Mound Bayou is the only all black owned and operated town in Mississippi. I worked there in the Fall of 1966 teaching reading and writing in the STAR program of Lyndon Johnson's War On Poverty. It stood for Systematic Training And Research. The federal government was paying 35 dollars a week to people to learn to read and write.
  We tried to sign up some whites but they all refused. I went to the welfare office in Cleveland, Miss. and asked to get the names of some white people and was told there were no white  people on welfare in north  Mississippi.
 No whites would sign up for this government program no matter how much they could have used the money. This was 1966 and race tensions were high in Mississippi at that time.