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November 05 , 2007

Miz Suzie's Boy


“Miz Suzie’s Boy” is a remarkable book about a Negro boy, born into abject poverty during the Great Depression to a teenage mother. Hardships of the depression included shooting crows for meals and keeping hand-me-down shoes together with string and newspaper. Negroes in the town of West Munden, a few miles south of Norfolk, cared deeply for each other. Poverty was pervasive and the “old folks” talked incessantly about becoming millionaires, but children were unaware of the degree of how badly things really were. Together, families banded together to combat blatant racism and rise above the negative impact of the Ku Klux Klan. His early home training fostered a love of God, Country, and Family. He was taught to work hard, practice thrift, speak honestly and with integrity, maintain his individuality, and relentlessly pursue an education. Childhood was a happy time for Herman and he spent many hours playing with relatives, neighborhood children and “make believe” toys. Flora moved to an adjoining community, South Norfolk, when he was eleven, and made new friends. He joined the Boy Scouts and strictly lived by the Scout Oath and its precepts. This later helped to keep him mentally awake and morally straight. Friendship (puppy love) for a classmate hastened his efforts to enter the U.S. Army, as an under-aged youth with the hope of finding her in the Philippines. Flora entered the Army, trained at Aberdeen, Maryland and cavorted with prostitutes and pimps whenever he was granted leave. He journeyed overseas on a troopship with fifteen hundred soldiers. The boredom and tedium of the voyage was downplayed by the laughter, witty banter, and frequent exchange of incredible lies. Arriving overseas, he started his first job as a latrine orderly. Flora found the Army reasonably challenging, thrived, and became Acting First Sergeant of a medial detachment within months. Frequent interactions and frank discussions with long time career soldiers constantly reminded him of the need for a good education. He returned to Norfolk from the Army, finished his last year of high school and enrolled at Howard University. College was demanding of his mind and time during the week, and only the weekends were available for frolicking, football, fraternities, and girls. Beautiful young ladies consumed every spare moment until he identified and pursued “the one”, a ministers’ daughter. Together, they lovingly reared seven college educated, children. Herman pursued ownership of several businesses and finally decided to make his million dollars brokering real estate. He accepted an Executive Level position with the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Minority Business Enterprise (OMBE) where he patiently assisted national minority businesses with their growth and expansion. In a very poignant letter sent from Africa to his grandchildren and other grandchildren of the world he reflected on several world problems. encouraged them to diligently educate and prepare themselves for the next century and never lose sight of God, goals and a good life.
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