names what you should know
is Moses Fleetwood Walker
listed in your brain
Pleasantly surprised to start my morning online newspaper reading today and find a story on Moses Fleetwood Walker on the front page of The Guardian.
Even though almost every one knows who Moses Fleetwood Walker is, or at least what he did, or what happened because of Moses Fleetwood Walker, I am surprised at how few folks recognize the name.
I always seemed to know who Mr. Walker was.
It was in my brain.
But I have always had issues with the odd little facts in my brain.
I have always had a hard time realizing that the goofy little things stored away in my brain aren’t common knowledge.
Everyone, right, everyone knows that when Julia Roberts was born in Atlanta, it was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who went to the hospital and paid all the medical bills.
Everyone, right, everyone knows that Henry Ford sent test tubes to Thomas Edison’s son so that when Thomas Edison died, his last breath could be captured for history.
I read a lot and I remember a lot and I can often bring up what I remember quickly and some folks think that is what being smart is.
But its not.
Smart is math and science and such.
That is smart.
I am good at trivia.
I grew in a family full of smart people.
With 10 brothers and sisters, when I went to Grand Rapids Creston High School I walked past trophy cases filled my brothers and sisters names.
Our last name was all over those awards.
Doctors, Lawyers and me the Indian Chief, I guess.
I was quick.
And quickly bored.
I could do algebra.
Really I could.
But in a very odd way.
I could stare at an algebra problem and after awhile my brain would spit out an answer.
Oddly enough that answer was usually correct.
But show my work?
Explain how I got the answer?
Couldn’t do it.
Well, I guess had I put in more effort I could have, but it was toooooooooo boring.
I wanted to read and gather more useless knowlegdge.
Presidents who didn’t use their first names?
Steven Cleveland, Thomas Wilson, John Coolidge.
Lots of stuff in my brain, but since I knew I wasn’t smart, I have always held to the idea that if I knew something, well, everyone has to know it as well.
So I think everyone knows who Moses Fleetwood Walker is.
I may be on firmer ground when I say everyone knows who Jackie Robinson is.
In 1997, Major League Baseball somehow celebrated Jackie Robinson.
It had been 50 years since Jackie Robinson broke the MLB color barrier.
The so-called gentleman’s agreement that kept black ball players from playing in the so called at the time, Major Leagues of Baseball.
They turned it into a celebration.
Nothing wrong with that.
But I kept waiting for the Major Leagues to say that it had been 50 since they got it through their minds that they had been wrong.
I kept waiting for Baseball to say, for over 60 years, we screwed up.
I kept waiting for Baseball to say, for over 60 years, we were wrong.
I kept waiting for Baseball to say, we are sorry to every player who played between 1947 and Jackie Robinson back to 1884 when Moses Fleetwood Walker took the field for the Toledo Blue Stockings and the opposing manager, Cap Anson (of Hall of Fame fame) said, “get the N***** off the field.”
That is who Moses Fleetwood Walker was.
Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier that was created because of Moses Fleetwood Walker.
Mr. Walker played college ball at Oberlin and the UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN.
After a year at Michigan, Mr. Walker moved on the Toledo Baseball club in 1883 and at the start of the 1884 his skin color came to the attention of those folks who felt skin color made a difference.
I am not sure if Baseball as a whole, ever came flat out and said they were sorry that happened.
I know the names.
To help my kids remember, we named our third son, born in 1997, Jackie Robinson Hoffman.
Had I known how much trouble he would have with the name I might have not pushed for it.
Not any real problems just book keeping and such.
I have been in offices answering questions for paperwork with Jackie,
LEGAL FIRST NAME??
You wouldn’t believe the number of times people just assume by his name, he his a girl.
And that is also kind of funny as he was supposed to be a girl.
We had been contacted by his birth mother and asked to adopt Jackie prior to his being born.
“It’s a girl, I can tell,” said the birth mom.
So we had a girls name picked out.
Keziah by the way.
And we planned on a girl.
Then for some reason I began having doubts,
Anyway my wife was invited to the birth and when we got the call and she walked out the door, I called to her and said, “Just in case, I got a boys name picked out.”
She was thrilled I can tell you.
We already had a Franklin David Robert (FDR) and a Lucas EDWIN (Edwin being our Great Great Grand Father who fought in the civil war).
“He will be Jackie Robinson Hoffman,” I said.
My wife just said, “OK” and off she went to the hospital.
Hours later I got call from her.
“Well, Jackie Robinson is here.”
Thirteen years later when we learned we were again going to adopt another boy I called together all our kids that we had by that time, 3 boys and 3 girls, and I said that we needed a new name and they were going to vote on it.
I said the new baby could be Ellington Bernard after Duke Ellington and my wife’s Father,
He could be MOSES FLEETWOOD WALKER.
I explained how COOL it would be to have brothers named Jackie Robinson and Moses Fleetwood Walker.
I explained how important those two names were.
I explained why they should know those names.
They voted for Ellington Bernard.
I didn’t feel too bad as I had slipped one past everyone as I also wanted Ellie to named after EB White.
Ellington goes by Ellie.
Jackie goes by Jay.
But they both know who Moses Fleetwood Walker was.
As a postscript I wondered why this story happened to be written at this time.
I searched the story for clues like, “New movie coming out” or “soon to be part of an HBO special.”
I then looked for the authors bio thinking it would say, “This is excerpted from a new book coming out this spring.”
I found the authors name, Andrew Lawrence, and the short blurb under his name said simply the Mr. Lawrence is a free lance writer and that formerly, he was an award-winning Sports Illustrated staff writer.
It also said that Mr. Lawrence is “Based in Beaufort, South Carolina.”
Low Country Neighbors.