I always loved Christmas time when I was back home in St. Louis. My grandmother, Arletha and Grandpa William, were both still alive during my years in Annapolis. I was at Annapolis. My younger brother Kenric (Kenny) was attending CBC. I was no longer a plebe and was having the best experiences of my life. My cousin Wesley was attending the Southern University of Illinois. He also ran the half-mile in track. I would look forward to Christmas vacation and the times we would get together with my cousins to play Bid Whist. By the end of 1974 every one of my uncles and aunts was now married and having children (my cousins).
Bobby was my Uncle Robert and Michelle’s first born. My cousin Latrice was another red head, my first cousin who was the first child out of five marriages for my Auntie Mary Claire. Christmas Eve in 1974 had outgrown the living room of my grandparents. Economic times had stiffened and so to cut the expense of Christmas the gift giving was limited to those under 18. The smell of food, the voices of family members, and the old fashion Christmas tree with the village and the sounds of a small train remains vividly fixed in my mind.
The Christmas spirit remains visible, and the frost on the windows symbolizes the present cold realities of Missouri in 1974. There were a few signs or inconsistencies in plain view that would prove to be significant factors explaining the future unfortunate, sad events. I was happy, and my life was about to take a major turn of events.
My mom was the love of my life. But as I had mentioned before the 70’s was changing people, especially Blacks. I bought several pairs of bell bottom pants and kept them for nearly 15 years. When I returned home this Christmas in December of 1974, she had lost additional weight and changed her hair style this time to a curly reddish to light brown Afro. My Mom looked better than Della Reese, Diana Carroll, and Leena Horne. My father was a very lucky man. During the last years before I left for Annapolis, I could set a clock to my Mom. She always arrived at home between 4:15 pm and 4:30 pm. In December of 1974, my dad worked the 3 pm to 11 pm shift at the Main Post Office in St. Louis. We lived near Riverfront Circle (inland not by the Mississippi River). My mother worked at the Good Fellow Blvd federal building, and that was about a 20-minute drive to home. On the first days of my Christmas vacation she came back at 5:30 and when I asked where she had been she said that sometimes she stops to have a drink with some friends from work.
I had no reason to doubt her statements because my mom had never lied to me before. I was busy with my friends and my girlfriend and had more selfish reasons for wondering where she had been. I need to borrow the car! I was fortunate that while at CBC my Mom would let me drive across town to school, and she would take the bus back home. This way I could attend sports activities and have transportation to come back home. There was no reason to suspect anything at the time because my family was perfect in so many ways. The family was growing, and as black kids, we were expected to get good grades and go to college. As I left after the New Year began in 1975 all was quiet on the home front. Unfortunately, that situational climate was about to come to an end.
Dr. Jordan B smith jr.
I attended the U. S. Naval Academy from 1972-1976 earning a B.S. in Mathematics. Served 20 years both active and reserve in the US Marines. Veteran of the Desert Shield/Storm. I earned a MAED and Ed D. specializing in curriculum and instruction from the University of Phoenix in 2015. I graduated from CBC High School in Clayton, MO in 1972.