The Rockport Miracles-A Fiction Fable by Bob Scrubbs
Part 1: Episode 2 of 3: “The Curse of the Jazzman”
Rockport is cursed because a baby cried. I was that baby and only a few months old when Gershwin music tickled me one night until I cried. Back then I cried because that was my only way of communicating. These days I cry because I do.
Mom took me downstairs to meet the entire cast of “Porgy and Bess.” My uncle was the show’s road manager and he conspired with Dad to use our house for a cast party after the last Cleveland performance. It was a risky move. In 1954, the only black people in Rockport were maids, man servants, and the guy that went door-to- door sharpening knives and scissors.
The cast included Leontyne Price and the venerable Rags Johnson. I’m told that Miss Price held me in her arms and sang “Summertime” to comfort me. Her haunting soprano conjured melancholy from every dog on the street and woke up a neighbor who spotted two cast members smoking on our back porch. Within five minutes the entire police force had landed on our front lawn including Chief Hathaway who arrived in his pajamas.
Bursting into our house with guns drawn Chief Hathaway belched, ”HOW IN HELL DID ALL THESE COLORED PEOPLE GET INTO ROCKPORT?!!” Dead silence fell over the room until Rags Johnson yelled back, “THROUGH THE FRONT DOOR, MASSA!!”
A mighty skirmish erupted, and the cops beat the living daylights out of Rags Johnson. Bruised and unforgiving, he appeared on local television the next day and said, “From the soul of my Creole granny, I direct the power of Medusa to curse your Mezuzahs, from Rockport to Kalamazoozah!”
Being a New Yorker, Rags couldn’t have known that no one in Rockport knew what a mezuzah was. Most people thought it was a kind of flute. It didn’t matter, the town was cursed and it was all because Gershwin made a baby cry.
Part 1: Episode 3 of 3: “ The Big Man in the Sky”
Illustrations by Greg Budgett © 2018
© 2018 Scott MacGregor-EOI Media Press Inc.
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