By James W. Wade III
January 15, 2021
I want to first thank everyone for all the calls, texts, and lovely cards during my time of mourning with my father's passing. My blog is always sharing a little bit about my personal feelings.
My life has been amicable and full of joy. Growing up in the Lee Harvard area of Cleveland, Ohio as a young man, I would have never thought I would have been friends with historical icons such as George Forbes, Arnold Pinkney, and the Honorable Louis Stokes.
I have always preferred to be the man in the background, trying to help others. I am very thankful I could do this, maybe not as well as Margaret Bernstein does but grateful for whatever I can do for others.
So far in my life, I have seen a Black President elected, a President impeached twice, and witnessed many lives lost with COVID-19. I recently noticed the Cleveland Browns beat The Pittsburgh Steelers back to back.
Both my parents are gone, but they taught me many valuable lessons over the years. I can cherish these memories of them for the rest of my life. My mother was a laid back but fun woman, where my father was more known in the business world and the gospel field.
My parents were not wealthy, but they made sure I had the finer things and spoiled me materialistically. My mother was a stern woman and did not believe in making me a mama's boy and was the enforcer, trust me, she didn't play. I was not allowed to be a brat on any day. I heard that speech about "we going in this store, don't ask for anything or else."
But even raising me with an iron hand, she still allowed me to be a boy and do everything most kids do. She was a woman who enjoyed laughing and having fun; she had a big heart and would give anyone almost anything we had, which wasn't much at that time.
My father was the cool, smooth musician with style and flair; being educated and working in Central National Bank, he had it going on. He would drive Cadillac's and dress to impress. I grew up always wanting to be like my father somehow and different in other ways.
My father had a car phone back then, those phones were big and looked like a house phone in the car, but it was cool to know he had one. Because of him working in a bank, he wore suits every day and cologne, yes that's where it all started for me.
I was very young and thought we were rich in my mind. My neighbor Eugene Jackson would come out of his house and always call me Master James W. Wade III, which sounded so rich like I was a prince. Was I mistaken, we were broke.
I come from a neighborhood where everybody knew each other, and you could walk down the street and speak to everybody, and the Street Club kept us, kids, off people's grass.
We had a well-known police officer named Eugene Withers, who lived on our street and didn't play. He rode a police motorcycle and had arms like a sludge hammer.
Jeff Davis, Michael Davis, Gary Levert (Pugs), Joe, Gary and Allen Levert, Eddie Russell (Boobie), Larry and Juney Smith, along with Brian Eskridge (Blitz) and Rodney Reynolds, was just a few of my neighborhood friends that I played with.
Both of my parents were born and raised in the church and very religious; they also were both musicians and instilled the same value for church and my beliefs that still holds for me today.
My mother would always quote Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." I guess she was right because I wanted to go to church after a while, not because she made me because I was now a believer.
You did not get to choose to attend church; my mother demanded I go, and we spent the whole Sunday in church. It started with Sunday school, Morning Service, some afternoon services, BTU, and then we had a Sunday broadcast that at some point, every church going person came through those doors to enjoy the great preaching and the choir.
Being my mother's only child, she gave me some great opportunities as a child that most on my street or even neighborhood never got. I was fortunate at a young age to fly by myself. She would send me to Chicago, Illinois, every summer on United Airlines. Back in that day, you could walk to the gate, and then she would hand me off to the stewardess who made sure you were ok until I got to my grandparents.
I couldn't wait to get that wing pin to wear and eat those good peanuts because I was on my way to see my grandparents. My mother's family was in Chicago; all my cousins and aunts stayed there; my mother was the only one who had left Chicago at that time.
My mother came to Cleveland to visit her cousins for a while, and while traveling in the religious circle, she met my father, and the rest was history. Cleveland became her home, and they got married, and then came a child named after his father.
As a young man, I was able to do a lot at my grandparent's house except drink grandma's root beer in the refrigerator. I would hear, "You can have anything you want in there, just don't touch her root beer," said my grandfather.
My grandfather owned property right across the street from where the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks played, and they called it the stadium. I had to get used to that, and it was different for me because we called ours the Arena and played football in the stadium.
My grandfather loved baseball and would listen to it and watch it on television all the time; he took one of the other young kids and me to a few games. But I always wanted to go to Jew Town to buy cheap stuff from there, which was the place to go for deals.
While spending time in the house with my grandparents, one of my aunts was still living there. She was the glue that kept my grandparents functioning when they got older, I was still a young child and felt she was bossy, and I gave her a nickname; I called her Boss Hog, being funny. But as I got older, I realized how things got done because of her.
She was handling things in a great way. She was hands-on and in the house, and my grandparents trusted her to conduct business for them and her sisters. As I matured, so did my love for her.
Like any family, many stop speaking to each other, which was the case with a few of my aunts. But when Wilhelmina (Boss Hog) got sick, my mother went to Chicago and tried her best to help take care of her.
The older I got, the less I traveled to Chicago because I could stay home alone while she worked, and it was not against the law. It felt different after my grandfather passed. It wasn't the same in the house, not hearing my grandmother call him by his name.
I have to sadly admit I didn't visit my grandmother much after he passed because in my mind, everybody was fighting and arguing, and I didn't' want to be around that mess.
When my grandfather died in Chicago, all the cousins started talking about getting together regularly after the repast, not just at funerals. We said we would have a family get together so everyone would stay close. That was in 1977; it's 2021 and still has not happened.
No matter what the future holds, that's my family, and I will never disown them, but one of my eldest cousins, Barbara Carrington, and I communicate all the time, and I have been down hanging out with her and her husband.
In closing, I would like to say family is important; make sure you take time to smell the roses and learn to live your life like it's golden.