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10 Fighting 99th: Over Here!» July 1945-February 1946 For Pete and me the trip from South Carolina to Kentucky was the longest motor trip we had attempted in Black Beauty. The seven-year-old sedan made the trip without a hitch as we were able to meet its needs at any service station along the three-state route. We had no trouble buying gasoline and oil or getting water for the radiator and air for the tires. We were not so lucky meeting our own needs, however, as we found that in some places restaurant facilities "for Colored people" were either only for takeout or not at all and rest rooms were outdoor , "out back" outhouses. We learned quickly to buy snack foods in large grocery stores in large towns along the way and to ask about rest room facilities before putting any gasoline into the fuel tank. At dusk we were high up in the mountains of Tennessee and decided to stay overnight in some town if we could find accommodations . As we stopped at a gas station in a fairly large town, I asked the attendant, who was Black, if there was a rooming house or some kind of sleeping facility in town where we could stay. He directed us to a small motel a few miles distant, owned by a relative of his. We found it without any trouble and spent a restful night in one of the tiny cabins, grateful that we did not have to stay on the road and drive through the night simply because of Jim Crow. With Columbia and Spartanburg, South Carolina, behind us and Knoxville, Tennessee, and lexington, Kentucky, still up ahead we 194 were about halfway to our new home near Louisville, Kentucky. So early next morning we were on the road again, fighting the early morning fog and the sharp switchbacks climbing up the side of one mountain then down the other; driving slowly and cautiously to stay on roads that seldom had guardrails to keep errant cars from plunging down the steep sides of cliffs on which the narrow shoulders of the road perched precariously. By midmorning the fog burned off as the sun rose to usher in a warm, beautiful day. By late afternoon Black Beauty had galloped through Knoxville and Lexington and brought us to the outskirts of Louisville. Neither of us had ever been to that town before but something in the air told us that we must be getting close. Something we sniffed that grew stronger with each click of the odometer . "What can that be?" we wondered. Suddenly it dawned on us. Kentucky is the state known for three "B's": bluegrass, blue bloods (horses), and bourbon. Soon after crossing the border with nextdoor neighbor, Tennessee, we had noted the miles of white picket fences marking the boundaries of horse farms here and there along our route and had seen some beautiful horses grazing the blue (?)it looked green to us-grass that covered each farm. So the strong odor must be that of sour mash from the whiskey distilleries on the outskirts of Louisville. Finally reaching the city itself we asked directions to the address where myoid squadron mate, Spann Watson, was living. He had been transferred pes to Godman Field seven months earlier. We found the house in a quiet, old, elegant neighborhood graced with tall oaks and elms shading the lawns of stately looking, rock-solid three-story homes and the streets with canopies of branches in full leaf. A quietly impressive sight. I might have known that Spann would not rest until he had found comfortable quarters for his wife, Edna, and himself where they could live in peace, especially in view of the fact that he had gotten out of South Carolina just one jump ahead of a lynch mob. I hoped that we would be as lucky. Our first temporary home in Louisville was one room in a private home owned by a friend of my friend, Lieutenant Gordon Southall. Gordon had come through the T AAF experiment and was now stationed at Godman Field in the provost marshal's office. Fighting 99th: Over Here! » 195 196 The contacts we got from him and Spann helped us to find an attic apartment within a couple of days with an elderly couple who "adopted" us as their own "chillun." We were happy to settle down in their home, at least for the time being, but we were...


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MARC Record
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