the final chapter of the CROW series
THAT OLD CROW
That Old Crow was old but he wasn’t the oldest Crow. Old Crow bourbon was introduced in 1835. That makes it the oldest Old Crow. That oldest of crows is still alive; kicking ass and taking names, but That Old Crow—born in 1875–was purported to have died in 1965. However, there are those who say, in the words of the legendary Mark Twain when he quipped to a young reporter sent to investigate his “death”, that rumors of his death had been “greatly exaggerated.” I say—if he is indeed dead—then his ghost must yet lurk in high places; swooping down on occasion to snag unsuspecting prey; a black ghost from hell—niger ex inferno exspiravit.
I was born before he died. He was old then. His strength had begun to wane, but the black, viscous evil which ran like sludge through his veins, was pumped by a heart as hard as stone, giving him a strength which belied his age. In his younger days he reigned terror upon my grandparents and great grandparents. He told them what they could and could not do. He told them where they could and could not live. He told them where they could and could not go. He tortured those whom he felt showed him disrespect, or he killed them outright, using their lifeless bodies to adorn his aery.
That Old Crow was still alive when I was born. I witnessed his death throes as he grudgingly relinquished his “White Only” banners, his private places, his all White sports, and his all White schools. He shouted from his high places. He yelled a rebel yell all across the South; wings flapping savagely as he watched sacred bastion, after sacred bastion fall. “Nigrum nothi!” was his shrill caw, but to no avail. His death was at hand and die he did. But his ghost didn’t die.
The black shadow of his ghost continued to cast its darkness upon the people of the South for years to come. I told you about the year that That Old Crow—that old Jim Crow—finally relinquished his hold on the schools of Randolph County. But, I also told you about the statue he erected and placed in the center of town so that he would have a high vantage point from which to watch for agitators. I told you how my father called him Mr. but he called my father Fletcher, even though they were both grown men. Finally, I told you how Jim Crow died. I told you that his ghost continued to haunt Randolph County for years after his death. And now, just when we thought that the coast was clear. Just when we thought we were FREE of old Jim Crow, I’m hearing rumors that there is a NEW ONE circling, waiting, watching and drinking Old Crow. Tell me it ain’t so!
I remember when White Cloud knocked a crow from the top of a pecan tree with a rock; killed that damn crow deader-n-hell.
This ends the CROW SERIES, but it doesn’t end my story. Stay tuned for my next series.