Abiding Faith letter 48

Abiding Faith letter 48


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



There was a war brewing between the heads of the locals and the national president Henry Nicholas,

the dynamic head of the Philadelphia Local 1199C. The main issue, seemingly, was obtaining more resources

for organizing drives. There, however, seemed a considerable amount of personal animosity against Nicholas.



Letters of an Abiding Faith:

Legacy of a Slave’s GrandDaughter to her Son

written by Ella Lewis to her Son (Rudolph Lewis)


Letter 48


Dec 4, 1989


Dear Son,

Just a Few lines to let you Know I received your Most Kind and Welcomed letter. I thought you had forgot me. I was So glade to hear From You. Dont worry about no Xmas present. I Cherish the one you gave me last Xmas. I know how it is when you not working.* We all under stand I do.

Now you said about the land. Doc I not telling you no lie about the land.** It already yours So that woulden Be no Xmas gift. It is yours all ready. I am sending you a Xmas present Not Much. But I want to do this.

And about the land I going to see a lawyer and see how much it cost to have the land measured. Then I give you the Cost If I had the money I do it my self. But I dont have it.

But as soon as I see the lawyer I see What the Price is. If that Make you happy I hope I Can do that. So you rest assured about the land. I hope you understand What I am Saying No Problem. If I could Talk to you over the phone I could tell you more clear. But I dont want to put no Bill on your phone. I cant afford one on mine. I rite you more When I see What the Cost.

Just keep praying a Job Will Come your Way.*** I still praying For you. The Lord dont come When you Want Him. But he right on time. I Be Keeping in touch with you all along. Keep your chin up dont give up. I not doing good my self. I had a tooth drawn last week. My knees giving me lot of trouble.

Much love Mother 

love You keep smiling

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*A lot had happened between 1987 and 1989, when this letter was written. Summer of 1987 I went to a number of revival services with Miss Lula Bell to nearby churches and spoke from prepared statements. That fall I returned to Baltimore and stayed with Fred and his new girl and future wife Jennifer on Druid Hill Avenue, where I now live and which is now also the home of ChickenBones: A Journal. When I returned to Baltimore I was employed by Bob Moore, a friend since 1968 when we were together in Baltimore SNCC. We had also worked together in 1199E-DC in the early 1970s when I also married Evelyn Duncan and he was Treasurer of the local and Fred Punch was the President and Isaiah Spriggs was the Vice-President. Because of the internal moral corruption I resigned after two years. 

By 1987, Bob Moore, though intrigue (I discovered later), had become president of the local. I didn’t realize what I gad gotten myself into. There was a war brewing between the heads of the locals and the national president Henry Nicholas, the dynamic head of the Philadelphia Local 1199C. The main issue, seemingly, was obtaining more resources for organizing drives. There, however, seemed a considerable amount of personal animosity against Nicholas. In addition, the heads of smaller locals, such as Bob Moore, were interested in gaining greater personal power in the national union. I was forced to take sides. A lot of people got hurt; a lot of old friends parted in the battle. Again, I resigned from 1199.

**Mama promised to turn over to me five acres of the land her father TeeJay left her since I had been cut out owning any of the land at Jerusalem. For I was neither a blood son nor a legally adopted son, though that indeed had been her intent. My overall insecurity probably caused me to raise this old issue of family land.

***After the unemployment insurance ran out I did get another job, as an adult education teacher — a position that lasted about three years, from 1990 to 1993. I was again forced into a position that I had to resign again from a job. But it was a good thing in that the entire adult education programs were being changed by the federal government. It would be no longer possible to find a full-time position as an adult education teacher as it was no longer possible to find a full-time job teaching at the university with a master’s degree. Like many, I worked a number of part-time positions, piecing jobs together in order to make a living.

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update 30 December 2011





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