Lonnie And I (Ezekiel Walters) – Part VSep 14th, 2009 | By W.B. Burkholder | Category: Lonnie and I, Series | 1091 views
Every once and a while, Lonnie and I id go down ta Old Woman creek and do us some catfishin. We’d go out and dig us up some crawlers, maybe catch us a few crawdads and such fer bait; we had us a couple a good sturdy cane poles that seemed ta do the trick in terms a catchin them there cats.
Along the way, we always passed by Ezekiel Walter’s house. Now Ezekiel was a different kind a feller. He was always settin in the front yard, perched on a cinder block. Every time we come by that there cinder block was in a different part a the yard, and there’d be Old Ezekiel, just a settin on it.
He was an elderly black gentleman, and his house was right along Old Woman creek. Fact was, you could see his house from our fishin hole.
Well, one day, we was walkin by and said “Hey” like we always did ta Mr. Walters;
He’d wave back, but never did say much cept fer a grunt or a “hey” back at us. We never paid no never mind to it, some folks er just that way. Sides Ezekiel was a nice enough feller; after all he didn’t mind us fishin so close to his property an all.
We got ourselves set up on the bank a the creek there and just as I was ready ta throw ma line in, Lonnie came up with a plan. Seems he had done some work fer Eli Cooper over at Cooper’s hardware and feed, and got his hands on some dynamite.
I guess Lonnie figured it’d be a hoot to go blastin fer em cat fish instead a fishin fer em.
He pulled out his jackknife and spun a hole in one them there sticks and placed the fuse in it. He took im up a blue tip match and struck it ta the light and set that flame ta the fuse and chucked it on in the creek.
Well, I’ll tell ya, we lit a shuck outta there, and run up the bank in ta Old Ezekiel’s back yard, and hid behind his old hay wagon, waitin fer the blast ta go off. And sure enough, it did.
There was this big, “BOOM” and a spray a mud, water and catfish musta been slung a hunnerd feet in the air. Lonnie went a runnin back down ta the creek and started catchin them catfish as they was fallin from the sky, n had a big ol grin on his face, he did!
Just at that moment, I heard Ezekiel out in his front yard a screamin and a hollerin.
It sounded like he was in some sort a pain, so I went a runnin up front with Lonnie right on ma heels.
I got up there ta see Ezekiel laid out flat in the front yard, tryin ta hide behind that there cinder block he always sat on.
“You boy’s git down,” he said. ”Them Huns have commenced ta shellin us agin. Find yerself some cover!”
“No Sir, Mr. Walters’s,” I said, “that was jus me an Lonnie blastin fer catfish down ta the creek. Ain’t no Huns shellin no one round here.”
He looked over at us and said, “You boys help an old man up on his feet.”
Lonnie and I grabbed each arm, and slowly helped im over to his cinder block.
Lonnie looked at Ezekiel and asked, “Sir, what’s a Hun?”
“They was our enemy in the Great War boys. I fought over in France with Pershing’s own. Ya all mean that they ain’t taught you this in yer school?”
“Well, no sir,” I said kinda embarrassed. “Lonnie and I don’t have much schoolin. Lonnie got some over at the sanatorum a few years back, and I graduated the 8th grade. Went ta work after ta help my Ma out with groceries and rent and such.”
Ezekiel looked at Lonnie and me and said,
“One a you boys go over yonder on the porch and grab that there wooden box under the table, and bring it on back here.”
Lonnie went a runnin and brought that there box back and gave it ta Mr. Walters.
He set that box up on his lap, and opened the lid real slow like. There was old pictures and such, of when he was in the war. He showed em to us and could still remember the names of his buddies. He had little souvenirs “from Paris, France” he’d say.
“Ooh la la” he got a twinkle in his eye and laughed.
He pulled out one photo though and got real sad like. I asked him,
“What’s wrong, Mr. Walters?
“Boy’s, this here’s a picture of ma best friend, Hopewell Johnson.”
“He saved ma life, but in return gave his own. There aint a day goes by, that I don’t think about Hopewell, and what he did fer me.”
Lonnie and I was curious ta hear more, “Sir, how’d he go about savin yer life, I mean that is, if y’all can tell the tale and all?”
He bent over and put that there box down twixt me an Lonnie and began ta tell us the story of him and Hopewell Johnson and a battle they fought in the Great War. It was called the Somme. He told us him and Hopewell was in a squad a men, all African American men that was ordered to go and charge a Hun observation post. He said there was a firin and explosions all around em, but they never bolted. They went on and did their jobs like they was supposed ta, and ended up capturing them Huns and that enemy post.
They was doin somthin he called “Moppin up” when some more them there Huns come over a hill and started shootin at em with a machine gun. Mr. Walters was a shakin the whole time he was a tellin us about it. When they commenced ta firin, old Hopewell jumped up and started firin back. He threw imself in front of Ezekiel and ended up gittin shot by that there machine gun. Ezekiel had tears in his eyes now and Lonnie and I turned our heads down, so’s as not ta embarrass im. That’s when my eyes went ta that wooden Box. There was a medal in there attached ta a long blue ribbon. The medal was gold and had some writin on it.
“Medal of Honor, Mr. Walters what this here medal fer?”
He took it from me and looked at it, shaking his head, and wiping the tears from his eyes.
“Boys, this is what shoulda been Hopewell Johnson’s medal. Instead they done give it ta me. Fer bravery above and beyond the call a duty,” he said.
“Hell boys, all I did was survive, Old Hopewell gave his life fer me. Nope, this here medal mighta been given ta me, but it ain’t mine. I’m gonna be buried with this thing and give it ta him when I see em in glory.”
Lonnie and I looked at im, and saw that he was beginning ta smile,
“So’s you boys git yourselves any catfish down there in at hole? I got me a taste fer some.”
Lonnie piped up, “Why there’s about twenty of em near’s I can figure.”
“Go collect em on up,” he said, “and well have us a fish fry!”
Lonnie and I sat there all day and inta the night listenin to Ezekiel tell us about the Great War, and Hopewell Johnson. Tellin us about Paris France and such.
I guess no matter where ya go, yer always gonna find a hero somewheres.
Lonnie and I found ours down by Old Woman creek.Help Support T21 with your Dollar Donation Today
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