The Mayor of Nichols

Intro from Jay Allison: Gwen Macsai began this piece seeking out an old friend from Middle School. When she discovers he had been killed in 2000, supposedly homeless, by a Chicago policeman, the inevitable question arose... What happened?

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TRANSOM GUESTS: Gwen Macsai’s Review
Enjoy the best of Gwen Macsai’s 2002 tenure as Special Guest on the Transom Talk Boards featuring audio, anecdotes from the world of radio and TV, as well as lively discussion with the Transom community. Read online, or download as a print ready PDF.

I WISH LETTER
Arthur Earl Hutchinson’s class picture at Nichols Middle School.
Gwen Macsai in Middle School
Gwen Eileen Macsai’s class picture at Nichols Middle School.

About “The Mayor of Nichols”

Arthur Earl Hutchinson as a teenager
Arthur Earl Hutchinson as a teenager

Having a very good memory isn’t always a very good thing. There were many times during the production of this piece that I wished I were like most people: unable (conveniently) to remember high school, let alone junior high. But, for better or worse, I can remember a lot of things most people would like to forget (of course, I can’t remember when the war of 1812 was, but ask me what Rachid Idriss was wearing when he asked me out, right before algebra in November of 1976, and I could tell you the color, cut and fabric or his shirt, pants and beige, puffy squares down vest). Then, about a year ago, my memory just started digging things up on its own — for no particular reason — responding to no particular trigger that I was aware of, and I kept thinking about someone I hadn’t seen in at least 25 years. I would be in the grocery store and I’d start thinking about him. At the beach and I would find myself thinking about him. It was almost like subliminal advertising where you start thinking about something but you have no idea why.

The person I kept thinking about was Earl Hutchinson. He was in eighth grade when I was in seventh and, even though I didn’t even know him all that well, I felt that he had done me an invisible favor in 1973 and I felt that I owed him something and wanted to repay him as an adult, or at least thank him. So I started trying to find him. To no avail. Then, after asking around for a while I found out that he was killed, supposedly homeless, in 2000 by a Chicago policeman. The unnamed policeman shot Earl after Earl lunged at him with a shiny object in his hand. The object turned out to be a fork.

It was a big story and made all the papers. I just missed it. The man they described in the papers was not the Earl I remembered and I wondered what the hell could have happened to him. I wanted to find out. I started looking for his relatives, found his mom, and asked her if she would talk to me. She agreed and then I thought about bringing my tape recorder along. As the story unfolded, it got more and more complex. Almost all my work to date had been short, humorous ditties. I was very worried and wary about trying to do a serious, long form story that encompassed a lot of information that needed to be synthesized in coherent sentences with facts that needed to be double checked and files that needed to be excavated from organizations like the Chicago police department. Being vaguely conflict-averse, I was apprehensive. I was never an investigative journalist.

ARTHUR AS AN ADULT
Earl Hutchinson as an adult.

In the end, parts of this process were just massively frustrating. The answer to every question just uncovered more questions. I felt that to do it right, I should have found more people who remembered the events surrounding Earl’s death but a few key players had died since 2000 and hunting down witnesses and doctors, all of whose names were blacked out on the police report, seemed next to impossible unless someone was going to pay me to spend more time on the story. Two shows had already rejected the piece for various reasons, and I didn’t really know how to go further. And that made me as frustrated with myself as it did with the police department. So I decided that I couldn’t do a perfectly balanced journalistic masterpiece but that this would need to be more of a personal remembrance. So that’s what I tried for. And what was most difficult was that there was no way to make sense of what had happened or how it was handled. Why him? To me, his story was like a microcosm of so much that is wrong with where we are: the way we treat the homeless, the mentally ill, people with drug problems, people of color; our tolerance of police brutality, our tolerance of inequality, our tolerance of our tolerance, and how all these things intersect. None of it made any sense and I wasn’t able to do anything to change any part of it. I hardly think that producing this piece is going to prevent something like this from ever happening again. But if it brings the family some comfort, if it makes anyone think, if it affects anyone the way it affected me, I would feel that the slightest, tiniest, most minute little ripple had been made.

Tech Info

I recorded this piece on a Marantz PMD 670 with a Beyer M58 Mic. I made numerous mistakes. Mostly, because when I left public radio around 1996, everything was still analog. Well, almost everything. So when I came back I had to learn how to wrap my brain around the digital world. It was a lot of fun but it was very hard for me to trust that I was really recording without seeing the cassette or DAT reels moving. Recording on a flashcard was just really funky. I felt much better after coming home and putting every interview on a CD, which I could actually hold in my hand (and at first that in itself was a real feat). I had to buy and set up a completely new computer; I learned Protools and this was the first piece of any length or import that I did with all my new-fangled equipment. At first, I recorded at too low a level after someone told me that if you go over in digital recording, you’re really screwed.

After the first two interviews, I got used to the whole thing and relaxed. I was perfectly happy with the sound quality of the 670 and the mic, being the audio slut that I am — anything is fine with me — I mean I am picky about audio quality but I’m no audiophile. That’s what I love about radio. You can use the crappiest equipment if you absolutely have to (even though you always want to use the best you can), and still come away with something that’s passable. One time I was in Fargo North Dakota with no equipment at all and found a story I wanted to do. I went to the public radio station to ask them to borrow a tape recorder and a mic, explaining that I was a stringer for NPR. I gave them a number at NPR to verify my story. They called and for some reason could not get through. They eyed me very suspiciously. I offered to leave them my driver’s license and Visa card. Eventually they decided to take a chance. And what was the so carefully guarded equipment? An old 635a mic and a Panasonic table-top cassette player that looks like it was circa 1973 which stopped running if you tilted it off a perfectly straight, parallel-to-the-ground plane. So I took the mic and the recorder and, careful not to let the Panasonic tilt one degree to the left or right, recorded the sound I needed for the piece. It was fine. It aired on All Things Considered a few weeks later and everyone listening in his or her car didn’t know the difference. Radio is the greatest.

Gwen Macsai

About
Gwen Macsai

Gwen Macsai is the host of the Third Coast Festival's weekly radio show, Re:Sound. In a former life she worked at NPR as a freelance producer and essayist and was the author of Lipshtick (Harpercollins 2000) a book of humorous essays. For a brief while and in a state of delirium, she was the creator of the ABC -TV sitcom "What About Joan," starring Joan Cusack.

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  • Jay Allison

    6.26.05

    Reply
    The Mayor of Nichols

    Transom likes to feature the work of new producers, and we also like giving seasoned producers a place to try something new. For a long time, Gwen Macsai has made short radio pieces. They’re funny. She’s even written a TV sitcom. This piece is not like that. It’s a personal homage to a kid she knew in junior high school, a kid she found herself thinking about all the time and hoped to track down.

    "The person I kept thinking about was Earl Hutchinson. He was in eighth grade when I was in seventh and, even though I didn’t even know him all that well, I felt that he had done me an invisible favor in 1973 and I felt that I owed him something and wanted to repay him as an adult, or at least thank him. So I started trying to find him. To no avail. Then, after asking around for a while I found out that he was killed, supposedly homeless, in 2000 by a Chicago policeman. The unnamed policeman shot Earl after Earl lunged at him with a shiny object in his hand. The object turned out to be a fork."

    Gwen had trouble getting existing radio programs to be interested in "The Mayor of Nichols," maybe, she thinks, because it’s a story of homelessness, mental illness, people of color, drugs, and violent death, and it’s too ordinary, too common.

  • Timothy

    6.28.05

    Reply

    Gwen had trouble getting existing radio programs to be interested in "The Mayor of Nichols," maybe, she thinks, because it's a story of homelessness, mental illness, people of color, drugs, and violent death, and it's too ordinary, too common.

    Because, all of us in public radio hate the homeless, mentally ill, and are racist.

    Despite that tremndously loaded comment, I listened and found the feature fascinating. What existing programs has she targeted? I find it difficult to fit a 34:32 piece to fit into a particular show, and while the subject has made for a fascinating feature, it means something mostly to people concerned with Chicago.

    Long form productions have to mean something nationally to be heard nationally. Take the Sunshine Hotel story by David Isay. It takes listeners to a place they will probably never see and informs them about things which they are most likely unaware.

    One troubling part of this feature is the extensive use of TV audio. Why is TV telling the story better than the reporter?

    Gwen asks some great questions, otherwise. I don’t think she needed the TV audio.

  • Gwen Macsai

    6.28.05

    Reply
    Gwen here

    Hi Timothy —
    Just wanted to tell you that I never expected to produce such a long piece about Earl but when I couldn’t find interest among a few shows, I decided to produce it the way I wanted, without having to listen to an editor. Iam not saying that it is better as a result, just that I could do whatever I wanted and that’s rare. So, were it to air within an established show, I would expect it to be cut down. I just enjoyed stretching out. As for the TV sound, I think it was only about a minute or two. I put it in to show that this story really did stay in the news for a long time. Thanks for listening to it….

  • Sarah Yahm

    7.05.05

    Reply

    Gwen – I thought this was a really fascinating piece and generated a bunch of questions for me. First of all, I thought you walked the fine line between the specific and the general really well. Earl’s story is clearly an individual story and an individual account (filtered through your experience as well as those of other people in his life), but you also attack some larger themes about homelessness, police brutality, mental illness, etc. Do you think that his experience is representative of the experience of many homeless men and women? We normally think of "the homeless" as people without family and without resources. Earl, on the other hand, had tons of connections – his funeral was packed. He also seemed to have very positive experiences within the shelter system and he voluntarily chose to stay there instead of with his family. I know many homeless men and women avoid shelters because they’re violent, scary, places. Again, do you think that Earl’s positive experience was representational or unique? Or do you think that’s the wrong question? You talk a lot about the value of exploring the individual experience but you didn’t specifically talk about why. Is it to find some sort of larger, more generalizable truth or is it to give dignity and voice to the individual experience or some mixture of both or something else altogether?

    You end the piece by saying you had trouble reconciling all of the pieces of the story together and wondering whether there were different versions of Earl. But as a producer, you definitely chose not to emphasize that question. What was your thought process about that?

    Great piece.

    —Sarah

  • Sydney Lewis

    7.06.05

    Reply
    seriously

    I imagine editing this hybrid-natured piece was complicated. So many elements to consider: personal, reportorial, the arc of his life and mental illness, the relationship, his family, you and he, his death. Makes my head hurt. Such a different arena from work you’ve done in the past. Clearly a labor of love in honor of one who was truly loved. The fondness in Regina’s voice, even as she describes being afraid of Earl, stays with me. His family’s anecdotes, his mom’s pain. Good tape all over the place. The tension crackling between you and the police spokesman… You speak of a certain hesitancy to even attempt this piece and it sounds like there were many daunting moments. Did you use any sounding boards or entirely follow your own instincts?

    Mental illness and homelessness are uncomfortable topics, individually and even more so when they hold hands, as is so often the case. Were these issues you were directly interested in before or was this new turf even inside your own head?

    It feels like everyone (police aside) just opened right up, but I’m curious if his family had any concerns about your portrayal. Was Regina reluctant to revisit that part of her life?

    I often wonder about the people in my small high school class, so naturally, I found this piece really satisfying. Not because it definitively answers anything, but because it gives me a portrait of a real person through the voices of those he left behind, reminds me to never assume anything about anyone, and fuels my disquiet with the horrendous social inequality in this land. I love your humorous work, but thanks for this time getting serious.

  • Gwen Macsai

    7.08.05

    Reply

    Do you think that his experience is representative of the experience of many homeless men and women?

    I don’t know if Earl’s experience is representative of most homeless but I do know that Jim Lawler, who ran one of the shelters Earl stayed at told me that the two primary reasons for homelessness are mental illness and substance abuse/addiction, bothe of which are medical issues that we treat as social issues. If we treated them as medical problems, maybe we would be better at gettting to the heart of the problem and not just addressing the symptoms.

    You talk a lot about the value of exploring the individual experience but you didn’t specifically talk about why. Is it to find some sort of larger, more generalizable truth or is it to give dignity and voice to the individual experience or some mixture of both or something else altogether?

    Great question. I think both. I always think that when it comes to issues/problems that the intended audience may not have a lot of personal experience with, telling an individual story is a good way to both illuminate the reality of the situation vs. feeding the fear of the unknown. After all, all of us have some fear of the unknown and I’m sure all of us have had the experience of discovering how much alike we are to people we thought we had little in common with. So I think that it helps to illuminate and give Earl back some of the dignity that he lost over time.

    You end the piece by saying you had trouble reconciling all of the pieces of the story together and wondering whether there were different versions of Earl. But as a producer, you definitely chose not to emphasize that question. What was your thought process about that?

    THis was a very hard one for me. It was fvery frustrating to have important information that was so difficult to get, like the name of the hospital he went to, the people who knew him in the shelters, the storeowner he supposedly stole from, the names of the witnesses of the shooting, etc. I knew that it would take months and months of digging and I didn’t even have a home for the story, let alone getting payed for doing any of the research. So at some point I felt I had to just stop and make it a remembrance instead of a piece that was more balanced. I will never know about the different sides of Earl and what is truth and what is memory that has been sentementalized. And that is very frustrating. If I was an investigative reporter or had someone paying me, I would have continued to get more info but, as it was it took about ten months on and off and I felt I havd to put it to bed. It still bothers me that I don’t really know everything. THanks for your thoughts.

  • Gwen Macsai

    7.08.05

    Reply
    Hi Sydney

    Did you use any sounding boards or entirely follow your own instincts?

    I pretty much had to follow my instincts, which I didn’t feel very confident about, I have to say. I hate having to synthesize a huge amount of information. I never know what to put it in, what to leave out, how to organize, etc. WHich is why I marvel at long magazine articles and investigative reports that tell complicated stories and may include years of research or many threads of a story. I think that this is why I work in very small chunks. Essays that tell a tiny story — I think that’s about all my brain can handle. This is the same reason why I would never like to be "a boss." I just like having my own little project that has a beginning, middle and end, and then move on to the next. However, I did read a draft to a friend in the biz who made a few structural suggestions which I appreciated and incorporated. Otherwise, that was about it.

    Mental illness and homelessness are uncomfortable topics, individually and even more so when they hold hands, as is so often the case. Were these issues you were directly interested in before or was this new turf even inside your own head?

    I have always been interested in mental illness, especially as it relates to creativity (hmmmm, I wonder why……) and I have also been interested in issues of homelessness,but not very actively in the case of the latter. Certainly doing this piece made me think a lot more about it and look at these issues from a different angle.

    It feels like everyone (police aside) just opened right up, but I’m curious if his family had any concerns about your portrayal. Was Regina reluctant to revisit that part of her life?

    Funny you should mention that. His family was remarkably candid. More candid than I even had room for in the story. They were thrilled that someone had taken an interest in the story. I think they were hoping that it would actually get them somewhere in finding peace within and answers from the police without. That part I tried to urge them not to count on. It’s funny too because one of the sisters that I interviewed and didn’t end up using was also in junior high with me and frankly, I was scared to death of her. She was a tough cookie. The other siblings laughed at me when I confessed that I was scared of her, we all laughed about it. THen, of course, when I met her as an adult, she was absolutely lovely and her kids were wonderful. I also found out, by the way, that the girl who beat me up, Jackie SMith, is now born again and lives about eight blocks from me. Anyway, as far as REgina goes, it was a miracle of surendipity that I found her. I happened to tell a friend of mine who I grew up with about the story that I was working on and of course, you couldn’t mentione Earl without mentioning Regina and I told me friend I was going to start looking for Regina but that I had no idea where she was. A few days later, my friend calls me, absolutely jumping out of her skin, telling me about the house that they had just looked at (they were looking to move into our area) and the realtor was none other than Regina! She got her number for me and I called her and she, at first was happy to set up an interview. But then the one show that I thought was going to run the piece wanted me to postpone the interview with her and interview her last. I did postpone it and in the interum, she decided she didn’t want to do the interview. I cajoled her into doing it later but I knew it was difficult for her. THis was such a huge part of her life but it was so long ago that I don’t even know if her current family knew of it. And, as a result, she is the only participant in the story that I didn’t send a copy to. I don’t know if that was the right thing to do but I just got the feeling that she would rather not hear it. We had a great time reminiscing though and it was a lot of fun to talk to her. Sorry I didn’t get back to you right away, I was out of town and lost my password! G.

  • Viki Merrick

    7.10.05

    Reply
    What would Earle do?

    Gwen, you must have felt to proud to have finished this, to have pursued it, to have taken it on in the first place. I admire your tenacity -as the dogged reporter !
    I was shocked to read that you basically did it with no backboard. Are you crazy?

    That said, as an editor I probably would have sliced it in half…to get you to the marrow and get the piece on the air. I think it is the specificity, the reminisicent – hometown stuff that keeps the scope too large perhaps, too big to float without the local anchor. Stepping back, I wonder if you would have pursued this story if you hadn’t known Earle. I know that seems a foolish question, but you asked why no one was pursuing the story. If you had read about it in the newspaper, and not knowing the fellow, would you have been stopped by it?

    I think there are 2 stories here. One is a portrait of Earle through the gaping draft he has left behind and the other would use Earle as a vehicle to rise above the localness and heart wrenchingness and go after only the social puzzle. Certainly the tape you got is bursting with fodder for either one (testimony to some great interviewing…) I was so jazzed by your sleuthing part of the story – hey, maybe you should give up this radio thing (again) and go be a gumshoe, or a straight reporter…Look at this whole other facet of you emerging 3-D, kind of weird exciting isn’t it?

  • Gwen Macsai

    7.12.05

    Reply
    No gumshoe here

    Hey Viki–
    I completely agree that if this ever aired on an actual radio show, it should be cut way down. I was just luxuriating in not having to have an editor! I also agree that there are two stories contained within the piece. I think that you are right when you suggest that if I didn’t know Earl, a story like this might not catch my attention because I too am desensitized. But because I did know him, I think that giving the statistic a face makes the story much more accessible and humanizes something that we bypass all the time. As far as being a gumshoe, I can tell you right now that I don’t have the stomach for it. I confess that after I left the police station after interviewng the spokesperson, I cried my eyes out all afternoon. I kept it together while I was with him but the second I left I wan a puddle. He basically chewed me up and spit me out. I definately don’t have the stomach, or the backbone. Let’s face it, my anatomy is all wrong for the whole confrontational aspect of reporting. I did like the sleuthing though. Thanks for your comments–

  • Samantha Broun

    7.15.05

    Reply

    Gwen –

    Thank you for this. I find it inspirational on a couple of fronts. First, I’m impressed that you took on this complicated narrative having had no prior experience or inclination for this format. I’m guessing (correct me if I’m wrong) that your gut and your personal connection to this piece is what drove you onward. It’s affirming to know that a gut can be that powerful…and that good.

    Second, as a person who works with adolescents, I am fascinated with the longitudinal aspect of the story…hearing about who Earl was a 13 year old and where/when/how things started to unravel for him. I’m most curious about the resilience of some of Earl’s characteristics. Those that survived his journey from junior high through borderline homelessness. It seems he never lost his sense of loyalty to those he loved; his inclination to be a caretaker; his generosity of heart. I’m wondering what questions and insights, if any, making this piece gave you about your own life’s trajectory?

    Thanks for not giving up on making this.

  • Viki Merrick

    7.17.05

    Reply
    crying

    You said you cried after you left the police station. I would have too – I think it must have been a mix of anger and shaken marrow. But maybe, maybe that’s why you’d be good ! You were like a pit bull girl, he may have spit you out but I bet he had a few nails to choke on…

    and, for the record, I still think you should take the detached road and cut this story, but leaving Earl’s face on it clearly, that’s what would reverberate the farthest. Something to do over your summer vacation.

  • Gwen Macsai

    7.18.05

    Reply
    life’s trajectory

    There is no question that the piece has made me reexamine my assumptions — not so much about the homeless, but more about the chicago police department and how our community fails so miserably to aid one another. And, against the news of the day, the war, the bombings, the killings, just makes me marvel at the depths to which man’s inhumanity can go. Seems endless. And, it also makes me wonder about what is a ‘worthy’ way in which to spend your energy….does writing funny five minute pieces for public radio do it when I could be advocating or doing something else to make a more direct contribution? I used to think that if you could raise one child that was happy and healthy and reasonably well adjusted, it was a lifetime’s worth of justifiable work: sending a good ripple into the world. And I used to think that touching even one person’s life would be a worthy goal. Now, I just sort of feel, even though rationally I know better, that people of able body and decent means should do more more more because of all the need. Anyway, it definately made me think about my own trajectory and how lucky I’ve been. I don’t feel like I lose sight of it often but this definately churned it all up.

  • Gwen Macsai

    7.18.05

    Reply
    editing this piece

    Viki —
    Evenfter losing money on this piece, I would actually pay someone to edit this piecce because I have ZERO perspective. Maybe in a few months…

  • Miguel Macias

    7.22.05

    Reply
    the radio and the internet

    There are many interesting things in this piece but… I’d like to talk about the aspect that interested me the most which is actually a rather small part of it. This piece is a fine radio piece. But most importantly, it seems more appropriate to listen to it how I and many of radio listeners today listen to the radio: on an mp3 player riding the subway.
    Gwen, you talk about the difficulty of getting this piece on the air. The difficulty of convincing editors that this story matters. You Gwen, have played in the mayor leagues, have worked with the big pros, and you yourself are a big pro. So it is particularly interesting to me that you at this point in your long career have run into this problem. That a lot of interesting material does not get broadcasted is not a surprise to me. A few days ago I pulled my hair once again when NPR celebrated Bastille Day with a piece about… the historical importance of the French revolution? Nooo… the evolution of democracy since then? Noooo… a piece about bread. That’s great… I am sure there are not enough great radio producers in this country to make a great piece celebrating Bastille Day and its historical importance so they had to choose… Bread. This is to me one of many examples of things that go on the air while other fascinating pieces have to be relegated to the internet. The internet is of course becoming more important, more respectable and more independent of the air waves. And us producers, or some of us, are beginning to not waist too much time thinking about the broadcast destination of creative radio, or radio that simply doesn’t fit into the standards of public radio today. I had the privilege of showcasing my work to the audience in transom. And transom is taking your piece, I assume, not only because it’s a good piece but also because it fits here, better than in the airwaves. Because here, things might actually be… better than in the airwaves?
    I would be very interested in finding out what your thoughts about this process might have been. Did this make you realize anything? Did this break at all your beliefs in the contents of public radio? Would you agree with me at all in the statement that in public radio, the space for risky, creative, challenging radio (either in the form or the content) is decreasing?
    I think that independent producers could start taking a little pride and say… I am producing this piece for transom or any other great website that is publishing fantastic content. You decided to go ahead with this piece not caring about it being aired. Many times I think about pieces without spending time trying to figure out where it would air. It will air on transom, it will air on the mp3 players of people, it will air on CDs that I send around. And I hope that the internet becomes independent enough, quickly enough to not have to sell out its position of lead in the evolution of radio and sound.

    Thanks for taking the time to read these postings!! and specially my long one…

  • Gwen Macsai

    7.29.05

    Reply
    totally agree

    I would emphatically agree that public radio as we know it, ATC, ME, etc, is absolutely no longer the place for "creative" work. THey are more news driven than ever and it seems like creative work has to bend over backwards in order to justify its existence. When I used to work doing essays for Morning Edition, I had almost complete autonomy with my producer Taki Telonidis. All those pieces were a full segment…as in 7 min or so. Now, if I do an essay, highly produced or not, that is over 4 they look at me like I’m nuts. For me frankly, it is worth it to get the listenership you do from the flagship shows but after many years of swimming upstream there, it definately isn’t worth it in stress and bad treatment. It just comes down to which you want to ssacrifice for the other’s gain. Can you put up with the bullshit to have millions of people hear your work, even if it can be a miserable, dispiriting, degrading experience? Its a good question and one that hopefully will be irrelevent within a few years because there will be other outlets, like this one, that keep gaining momentum….

  • Allison Burnett

    3.01.14

    Reply

    That police spokesman’s anger and arrogance is breathtaking. He can’t even fake intelligence or civility.

  • Mark Moses

    3.04.14

    Reply

    Gwen — Very much enjoyed your story on Earl Hutchinson, “The Mayor of Nichols.” I knew Earl at Nichols junior high. I remember him mostly as a kid with a big smile on his face and quick to laugh at a joke. Good humored. I think I was a year older and I was big, so there were scarier kids than Earl in the hallways – that’s never how I thought of Earl. But “Mayor of Nichols” is perfect, because he had a big personality. The irony of your story is that Earl once helped me out as well. I was in high school, or just graduated, and I was working every day really early and staying out too late. And one evening I just fell asleep behind the wheel and crashed Jim Moran’s car into a parked car. And I was laying on the wheel with the front end of the car crushed, passed out, middle of the night — there was Earl shaking me. “Moses! Moses! You okay? Whatcha’ doing? You okay?” I looked up, saw Earl, said I was alright, thanked him, and drove the car to the garage which was a few hundred feet away from where I had crashed it coming home. Never forget that. Never knew why he was there at that time. A sad story about a really good soul. Thanks, Mark Moses

  • Elizabeth (E.B.) Elwell

    3.05.14

    Reply

    Nice piece, Gwen. Sad, tragic story that I wasn’t even aware of until now. I knew Earl at Nichols as well, and “Mayor of Nichols” is an apt moniker. Your story brought back a lot of memories…how life was at Nichols, along with being in Earl’s “good graces.” Thank you for telling this story…it’s an important one to be told on so many levels, and for so many reasons.

  • Gwen Tucker

    11.25.15

    Reply

    To Gwen Tucker To Gwen Macsai

    This was beautiful. I am Catherine’s best friend. I too remember Earl and we all lived down the street from Nichol’s.

  • Jo-Renee Hunter

    5.13.16

    Reply

    Wow! What a beautiful and loving piece. I knew Earl and his family. We all went to Springfield church together when he was young. Earl was a beautiful person and had the best smile. I was not aware that he had died until very recently. I was very sadden to learn from your piece how he died. My heart is broken to know that his life ended this way. Thank you for writing this piece and shinning a light on a problem in the black community that has long been over looked until recently. Black lives really do matter.

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