The route he took was a common one. We all take it to get to MacDonald’s gas station to buy snacks or have a bicycle tire patched. It treks through a couple of back yards, crossing a railroad track, more back yards and then a long winding dirt road. It is more like an obstacle course than a route.
I don’t remember a time that he passed by us that he didn’t stop to encourage us in some way. His words sunk in even though we never looked up. It all balled down to doing something good in life. He was talking more to his nephew Alonzo than us, but we all had to acknowledge him...or else.
Looking at it now, everything was as if it was predestined for him.
He knew what he wanted in life early. As a extremely talented natural athlete, he could play any sport he wanted to and did all of them very well. Coaches smiled when his name was mentioned. His physique was intimidating and his quickness was even more respected. He would sometimes be tested by bullies and they all son gave in. No one messed with Bunk. Bunk was going to be someone great in life. No one ever said it out loud but we all knew.
Needless to say none of us ever thought that it would be the bullet of Highway Patrolman to take him down. To us event happened way too quick. One day everything is fine and the next day an explosion of emotions flood Orangeburg. The curfew from protest kept us inside for days. Then...
The crowd of college students all scattered but Bunk falls to the grass to never stand again. Two others also fall (Henry Smith, and Samuel Hammond) with him as the lights and bullhorns close in.
Life left the "Railroad Corner" that day and never came back.
(Never undervalue the time you have with your good friends.)
We never gathered at our corner after Bump took his last run pass us. It was as if he did like the old Western movies where they ride off into sun. Then there is only darkness as the movie closes. In our neighborhood when darkness comes it's time to head home for safety.
Will there ever be life on the "Railroad Corner" again?
It’s been over fifty years but it seems like only yesterday that we tossed the ball around with friends and no matter how much time passes it will never take those moments away.
If there is a lesson to learn from this it is to enjoy life while you have it and as Bunk did just be a good example for all to see.
May God Bless any reader that reads this and remember the lesson from the corner and at some time maybe there will be life on the corner again.