Joe and Alice Miles Williams and daughter Cora Essie Williams Morgan Word and her second husband John Word, son John (Uncle Bud) Williams and wife Modena along with their daughter Louise Williams, all moved to Muskogee, OK in 1922. The story from Grandmother Word and Neighbor Aunt Veola is that the town sheriff ran Alice Williams out of Mississippi for practicing medicine without a license after the town doctor complained. She was an herb doctor. Clarence Sr. had moved to Memphis as a teenager with Cora. He stayed in Memphis after she moved back to Mississippi and then to Oklahoma. The house at 1931 North Fifth Street, Muskogee was just a few years old when the family moved there. My father was then about 17 and he never lived in Muskogee.
Richard Morgan was a baseball player and a musician among other things. I can't remember the stories he told me but I understand he was possibly blues singer Bessie Smith's significant other for awhile. He lived in Chicago at some time and Bessie's biography has colorful stories about a Richard Morgan who had a Mississippi, Chicago and a Muskogee connection. More research needed.
I remember one day when I was about nine or ten, a taxi cab pulled up to our house at 290 Decatur Street in Memphis. My grandfather had come to live with us. I don't think he was expected. He lived with us for several years but after his health became so bad, he was placed in the county nursing home his last couple of years. I remember grandmother Cora coming to visit us during this period from Muskogee and us going to visit him at the nursing home. He and my daddy died several months apart in 1958.
My grandmom Cora.....
My grandfather Richard taught my father, Clarence Sr., to play instruments. My father played in "big bands" and on the radio but that's all I know. I remember he admired the Tommy Dorsey Band, Noble Sissle and W.C. Handy. I understand that well-known Memphis DJ Dick "Cane" Cole was a good friend of his. My daddy hung around Beale Street between 1915 and 1950, and I am looking for old pictures of bands. He would be 102 now so that's no easy task. He taught me to play the clarinet when I was in the third grade. He took me to Amro Music store in downtown Memphis when I was in the sixth grade and bought me a clarinet for my birthday. He tried his best to persuade me to get a saxaphone. He died a few months later and the clarinet and some sheet music is all I have that he gave me. There may be some more of his sheet music still around somewhere. I remember Al Hibbler's "You'll Never Walk Alone" and a piece called "All Alone and Lonely" that I learned to play. Melanie and Genine got some use out of the clarinet while going through high school. It was returned to me for a few years but is now in Flordia somewhere among the storage boxes, available for any family member who may be able to get some use from it. We have had now four generations of athletes, musicians and entertainers in the family. It's time for a superstar!
My father was a chauffeur about the time I was born at home at 232 I Pauline Circle East, a housing complex just torn down in 2007. I know he worked for the Francis Andrews family, a city commissioner then. I remember when E.H. Crump died (the political boss of Memphis for a number of years), I and my sister Alice too I believe, rode in the car and waited while he went in to view Mr. Crump. Memphis was very much entrenched in segregation at that time , but chauffeurs were well respected in the black and white communities and could sometimes cross barriers. They even took messages from the black community to their employers.
Clarence and Marguerite met in Memphis and married July 7, 1939. My mom was a domestic worker and worked for the Glass Family among others. I believe she cared for two generations of Glasses, also a prominent Memphis family. For several years she worked in the school cafeteria at Humes High, about the time Elvis Presley was a student there.
My parents were the owners of Greystone Grill at Decatur and Mosby in Memphis for about ten years. There was breakfast daily, sandwiches like cheeseburgers and hot dogs with slaw, candy, cookies and bubble gum for the kids, bread, coffee, barbeque on the weekends, and beer to go. Numerous "delivery boys" were provided jobs there over a period of years, including our next door neighbor on Englewood, Claude Jackson. I grew up from a toddler at "The Stand", the store's nickname. It started as a partnership with James and Samella Brown (My god parents). There was a second store on Jackson opened later for a few years, that was run by the Browns. By the time I was 11, the Greystone Grill was sold and my father then sold real estate full time for a former customer, C. Ray Couch Realtors at 2491 Lamar, Memphis. We moved to 1327 Englewood Street in February 1955, and my brother Richard was born in November of that year. We were "blockbusters", the first blacks to move in the neighborhood. All the whites eventually moved away. We had a couple of broken windows but some of the blockbusters at that time suffered crosses burned in their yards. My father sold half the houses in our block on Englewood, After my father's death, my mom returned to work with the Glass Family.
My mom and dad got us involved in church at an early age.......