HERE COMES RALEIGH’’
First there was a solo declaration which soon increased into a chorus. One of us Pounds’ kids would spot him as he turned the final bend in the dead end road leading to our house and loudly announce his arrival. Soon the other five would be jumping up and down, joining in the excitement.
“Here comes Raleigh!”
Living at the end of a country dirt road, anyone who entered was either a visitor or they were lost. Most visitors drove in. Raleigh walked in, the last leg of a hitchhiking trip from Pickensville, Alabama, or from wherever he had disembarked from a ship. He packed very lightly-a few clothes and a couple of bags of Prince Albert with rolling papers. He knew that we would provide food but not tobacco.
We never knew when Raleigh would come or how long he would stay-nor would we ask. He would stay until he got ready to leave, announcing that he had a ship to catch, and he would be gone. We would have no idea when we would see him again.
In 1994 Raleigh died while living in Pickensville. Garland Pounds, Jr., and my brother, was asked to conduct the funeral service. He began his eulogy with these words: “Here comes Raleigh!” I suppose he wanted to give St. Peter advance notice that Raleigh was on his way-otherwise, he might try to slip through the pearly gates unannounced.
As I grew up, the unannounced arrivals and departures became a way of life. When he came, we eagerly waited with anticipation to hear tales of his latest adventures. Raleigh would fill our young ears with exciting episodes of journeys to faraway places in a world we country kids had no hopes that we would ever see. Walker County was our world and a trip to Birmingham was high adventure. There was not much promise that these boundaries would be extended to any degree. We dreamed of making the ultimate trip-to Pickensville on the Tombigbee River. If we ever made this trip, we vowed that we would cross the river and walk to Mississippi. This would give us bragging rights that we had been outside Alabama.
Did I mention that this was only a dream?