Black History – Uncle Logan

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screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-7-33-13-amThat’s my beloved Uncle Logan opening that door in an article about Black Inventors from the February 1990 issue of Ebony Magazine. He is the patriarch of the Logan family which occupies a place on our family tree that requires an asterisk to show both that it is different AND that it means so very much to us.
(But, as usual, that is a story for another day)
He was the Yin to my father, Morris Ware‘s, Yang. Opposites yet perfectly complimentary. Second to my father, he was THE most influential male figure in my life through my childhood. He taught us lessons through his words and actions that, when added to the lessons learned from my father, told you everything you needed to know about being a man.
Emmanuel Logan, Jr. was a brilliant man. A talented musician and songwriter. And not in that “he had a piano that he could bang out a few tunes on and I need something to say about him” sort of way. In that “he got paid money and Grammy nominated” sort of way. You know, musician and songwriter.
His mind was always working. Looking at things and trying to figure out if they could be done better. Seeing a problem. Devising a solution. Determining whether that solution could be monetized. Move on to next problem.
The total and complete entrepreneur
In all things. Which is not always a good thing that is where he stumbled. When that entrepreneurial spirit hit very real world relationships it crushed them. There always seemed to be a whirlwind around Uncle Logan. Events and happenings just seemed to spring up out of nowhere when he was around. That finally ended up in his divorce from Aunt Doris.
Yin and Yang
I only ever remember my parents getting into one real argument. It was frightening and horrible and scary. I don’t know what it was about and I don’t ever want to know what it was about. All I know was that we each got $5 to spend at the 7-Eleven to buy supplies for the trip. Trip? We were off to Alabama and Dad was staying here.
Comic books and candy bars
That trip never happened. Whatever it was, it was resolved that day and we moved on with life. A life of stability provided by a man that was, like Uncle Logan, brilliant. Mechanically gifted, a natural leader and athletic. And not in that “he played softball in the summer league” sort of way. In that “he was drafted by the Boston Red Sox” sort of way. You know, athletic.
My Dad worked 3 jobs to provide the little that we had. His primary job was as a member of the United States Air Force. He’d bring home patch panels, cords and diagrams. We’d lay the panels out on the floor and put the cords in according to the diagrams. We didn’t know it but we were programming the early computers being used at the Pentagon. He worked behind the counter at a drug store and also worked for IBM on weekends.
Dad enforced discipline at home. Brooked no foolishness and had little to say about the whole Black Power movement. Black Power didn’t feed his family. The US Air Force did that and so he focused. And we flourished. Our life was steadily getting better as he advanced in the Air Force. We had everything we needed.
We seemed to spend every weekend with the Logans. We were cousins now. Family stronger than blood. Crabs and cookouts. Cabarets. Sunday morning feasts of gallons of cold milk and donuts. All kinds of donuts. We would gorge ourselves on the glorious nuggets of fried fat and sugar while the grownups would be somewhere sleeping off the effects of the previous evening.
Watching those two men interact. Seeing the way they loved each other. Morris being so serious. So conservative in word and deed and belief. Logan being so freewheeling. Taking chances and winning or losing. And then taking chances again. Both relying on the other to show their children the side that they themselves just weren’t capable of showing. An almost symbiotic relationship that worked out well for all involved.
A relationship that started because a Black kid from up North came to the South and was set upon by some White kids from down South. And a Black kid from down South came to his aid. From that point on, they somehow recognized that together they were better. And they were. Together they were this kind, happy, serious, musical, athletic, liberal, conservative, stoic, joyous, philosophical, silly, loving man that formed my understanding of perfect masculinity.
My Uncle Logan is gone. I do miss him. When he was in the final days and in the hospital, I didn’t go see him.
I couldn’t.
I hope that he understands.
– Eliot
Welcome to Black History Month at the RiverHouse.

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