JUNIUS AND BROTHER RAY


Just before the rain on this Memorial Day weekend outside the CVS Drug Store, Junius sits not bothering anyone yet letting all who pass know that he could use a little help. A tall, lean ageless man with a presence that says dignity and a cap that says US NAVY. I ask him where he served and he answers, “Great Lakes Navel Air Station.” I ask him his name, tell him mine. We talk while we wait together. I tell him I’m waiting on my wife to come out of the store. He tells me he’s just waiting. I ask him what he did at Great Lakes. He answers, “Whatever they told me to do.” He smiles. Laughs quietly. There is music in his laugh. Music of the hard roads of the earth. So, I ask him about music. He smiles and the rain starts. Says, “Yeah, I have played me some music. You know Pops Staples and his children? I told him I did. He nodded. We talked a little more. About Muddy. About Mavis. “That was me on bass,” he told me. “And up at Great Lakes I played me a piano that Bix Beiderbecke used to play.” And as the rain fell into a steady rhythm and my wife came out of the CVS, I asked him who he’d like to hear right this minute. As the hard times hit so many, who would he like to hear sing and play right now?” He thought for a moment, looked at me and said, “I’d like to hear Brother Ray Charles.”

And I thanked him for his service.

6 Responses to “JUNIUS AND BROTHER RAY”

  1. toritto Says:

    Really nicely done Roger. Hoping you and yours are well. My family and I are all ok. I finally got a haircut today! Best regards from Florida. Frank

  2. chicagoguy14 Says:

    Thanks Frank! All OK here. Am still looking forward to that haircut, I now look like Bernie Sanders!

  3. Paul Haider Says:

    I was wondering when one of my favourite writers would be writing again! Roger, thanks for the post during Memorial Day weekend. One of my favourite Americans served in the Navy for ten years and was the 39th President; Aretha Franklin sang at his inauguration party. Ray Charles was also featured in The Blues Brothers movie filmed in Chicago during Labour Day weekend of 1979. Thanks for a new memory of my first and former home in America. Paul 🇬🇧😎

  4. Tom Dickinson Says:

    How cool, Roger….great story.

    At first I thought, hmmm, how are Junius Booth and Ray Charles gonna connect and relate?

    Your Junius is also “quite a character”…you make that obvious!

    Thanks, Happy Memorial Day weekend, Rog…tell Junius this day is for him…we remember and honor all who served!

    TD

  5. chicagoguy14 Says:

    I would not have guessed Ray Charles when we first started talking. More like Muddy Waters. But having served I think connected him to this particular song. Never know where the music will pop up!

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