My search included trying to find a letter I received from Sweed
Jeffries since I moved to Kentucky. He wanted me to come back to East
St. Louis, restore the War Lords to a community development roll! I
answered that it was too late.
I was unable to locate him when I was writing the book. I talked a
former police officer to go with me to the area I was told was his
stomping ground. I went door to door, and found someone who said he
could tell me how to get in touch. He sent me to meet in a nearby tavern
with a guy in a wheelchair, who would have a robe across his lap. I was
told he kept a pistol in his hand there. I went, and he promised to tell
Swede that I wanted to talk with him, but I never heard until years
later. The letter was forwarded to me from the Macoutah Herald office.
The cop who went me was afraid to get out of my car and tried to get me
not to go to the tavern. But I figured that being able to say Swede was
my friend, that was all the protection I needed.
All old people like to tell tales, and press hard and boringly when they
have a listener. So, the length of our sessions is of no concern as
lomng as I know where and when. Your inquiries have revived memories
of lots of things meaningful to me, but that make no contribution to
what you are trying to accomplish.
Page 192 of my book, the interview with Dr. Lillian Parks, should be of
special interest to you. I hadn't know and did not remember until I
thumbed through the book last week that Dr. Carrie B. Dawson of East St.
Louis was the first black woman to earn a doctorate from the University
of Illinois. How fine. And I found the name of Lillian Williams, who
was hired as my /secretary/ (the only one I ever had in my life), and I
used her to write obituaries. Her father was the first mayor of the
city, after having served for some time as an official representative of
Illinois Gov. Richard B. Ogilvie. The story of how that happened, as
story that began with my efforts to "save" the floundering Journal as
its subscribers fled the city and the repressed blacks lacked the money
or a reason to subscribe and Clyde Jordan's Monitor newspaper where I
was headline as a White Racist when I became editor ..........
to be continued
Sorry but it is bedtime and I can't keep my cat off the keyboard...
P.S. Ask me
1. How the state police came to patrol in East St. Louis
2. If I ever was hurt by a gangster (Baldy O'Hare did it, and tried to
run over Al Mross, our photographer) also a tavern owner hiding slots)
3. About our blonde Swedish exchange student who wanted to spend a week
in East St. Louis !!!!!!! I email her occasionally, she is a
You make me remember so many things!
My favorite people in the book
Carl Officer (I knew his Dad)
Charles Merritts...trained by the white politicians who told me how he
would be the first black mayor
Elmo Bush ------ who helped my editorials
Will McGaughy and the St. Clair County Mental Health Board and dog