Through The Eyes Of A 10 Year Old

by Ozell Powell Jr
(Pensacola, Florida)

In 1968, I was born in the small town of Forest Home, Alabama. The town is nestled just a few miles from Greenville, Alabama. Forest Home has a large African American population, many of whom were descendants of sharecroppers. My mother often told me stories of how she & her two sisters picked cotton as children. I'll never understand how and why my mother picked my dad to be the father of her children. Both of their personalities are insanely different. Mom, loving, caring and forgiving to a fault, whereas my dad is a very jealous and an abusive drunk. The two grew up in Forest Home and were acquainted with one another. They soon dated and married shortly before my birth. I am the firstborn.

Mom soon gave birth to four more children. I remember as a child how my father who was once a nice and considerate person, had turned into very jealous and wife beating drunk. My father allegedly fathered a daughter out of one of his extramarital affairs. To this date, I've yet to confirm this rumor. I guess my reasons are mostly out of respect for my mom. Mother stayed home as a housewife taking care of me and my siblings while dad worked at the local paper mill, and engaged in other extracurricular activities. Dad made a very good income at the time. The refrigerator said otherwise. Mom would often go to our neighbors and beg for a cup of flour. The part of this story which makes me the angriest, is that we were not poor. Mom said dad practically spent most or all of his money on mistresses. I remember the times when he would come home late at night and beat mom just because his day didn't go well. I remember being 10 years old, and could not physically do a thing to put a stop to his rage against mom.

The last beating my mother took happened on a Sunday. Dad of course was not home, so mom took the kids with her to church. We surmised he probably spent the night with one of his mistresses. Well, when we returned home, dad sat waiting in the living room. I remember seeing the anger and extreme rage in his eyes, as he cursed mom. He soon began beating her mercilessly as my brothers and I screamed and cried, as we begged him to stop. I remember the large crowd of neighbors standing outside. I begged and pleaded with my large and muscular neighbor to help my mother. His response was: " I can't get involved lil dude". I stood and watched as my mother pulled fiercely with futility at the window blinds. in her futile attempts to escape the violence of this monster.

The comment and the lack of help from my neighbor still resonates in my mind til this day. Soon afterwards, mom's family purchased us all Greyhound bus tickets to Pensacola, Florida. We never looked back.

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