Black and Blue
Character is what you do when no one is watching.
Long before he was President.
Long before anyone knew who Gerald R. Ford was, or would become, he faced perhaps the greatest test of his life.
“Jerry” is a bright, young man whose dream comes true when Coach Harry Kipke invites him to play football at the University of Michigan.
As he steps off the train into his new adventure he meets teammate Willis Ward, a black man from Detroit, Michigan.
In a time when Jim Crow laws are prominent, Willis and Jerry continue to break conventional standards, forging a friendship that will last their entire lives.
In 1934, the Bulldogs of Georgia Tech are invited to play the national champion Wolverines. Georgia Tech quickly agrees, but with one stipulation: the black player is not allowed on the field.
“Jerry” will not stand for this. As the entire nation watches and waits for the decision of the University, he announces that it his friend and teammate cannot play, then neither will he.
Black and Blue, is a powerful, poignant story.
Based on a true story.
WGA Registration #1568048
Review from Diane Donovan - Midwest Book Review!
Amazon Digital Services
9781483509747 ASIN: B00FX2EQA0 $5.99
The Homecoming opens with a familiar scenario: a man returns to his childhood town when his father dies, there to find many changes await him. There's a difference in this picture though: Hollywood bigwig Michael Johnson has allotted exactly three days to tidy up affairs and get out of town; only events don't proceed in such a quick nor tidy fashion and he finds himself confronting a long-left love and a mysterious, wise old man who pops in and out of his affairs and seems to know way too much about Michael.
He manages to return to his Los Angeles life, albeit forever altered by his brief respite with his past. He can't forget Roseanne, he can't help but wonder about how the old man knew so much about him, and these ponderings lead him to new discoveries and revelations that will change his life and his path through it.
Thomas Wolfe wrote "you can't go home again" and in many cases he was right; but in this case what appears to be a simple homecoming to quickly settle matters of the past turns into a journey that will change Michael's future and his very persona.
The introduction neatly sets the stage for this journey: "The first day of my life started thirty-nine years into it, practically in the fall of my days. Not that I wasn’t living one and not that I wasn’t busy trying to make something out of myself, quite the contrary as a matter of fact, but it wasn’t until things started to go a little south that I really began to wonder what it was all about. Strangely enough, the beginning of mine started with the death of someone else, my father."
And what a journey it is: as Michael makes ongoing discoveries about his personality, objectives and values in life ("There are givers and there are takers. My father was a giver and I had become a taker. While my father was back here giving, I was far away, taking."), he finds himself slowly shifting in unexpected ways and finds himself drinking in the wonders of the world with newborn eyes and fresh perspective.
Can the queries of one wizened stranger change the direction of a life? Not by themselves; but death, love and family ties are simultaneous, life-changing forces that strike at the heart of Michael's values and the vision of success that he's so carefully built for himself far away from family and home. And when Michael's mother also suffers a setback, it's the final straw tipping the specter of a professional life falling apart and a personal life teetering in new directions.
What happens when these continuing changes are brought into one's current reality is one theme that permeates The Homecoming.
In today's world of business-oriented values that often spill over into personal lives, The Homecoming is an inspirational gift. Michael learns how to fall in love again, how to re-establish family connections, and how to integrate all this into a new worldview. Through all of this, the 'Rubber Band Man' appears time and again to offer Michael keys to staying on a path that will ultimately lead to happiness after all the pain permeating his life: "I looked up again. Suddenly, I didn’t care if he saw my eyes and sensed my pain. It was quite obvious that I couldn’t hide it anyway. “I am lost. Ever since I came to this God forsaken little town…” “Now don’t say that,” he said. “It’s not the town that’s forsaken.” His happy tone was suddenly serious. I looked at him for a second, wondering again, who he really was."
Readers will follow Michael's passage with bated breath. It's about the journey as much as the destination. The Homecoming proves inspiring, enlightening, and gripping on some unusual levels: emotionally, spiritually, and even into the financial world. And that's what makes this a unique, warm read.