We sat at tables in those days classified by how well we learned. I was always at the dumb kids’ table, that’s why I knew Willie was dumb too. It was near Halloween we all brought in candy to exchange and kept it in paper bags.
Willie sat across from me at our table. Our teacher, Mrs. Bowsher, gave us each an orange. My Orange was bigger than Willie’s. As I think back, it might have been a form of discrimination. Willie was African-American. When the teacher’s back was turned Willie grabbed my orange. I quickly grabbed it back. When I wasn’t looking he grabbed my orange and exchanged it with his smaller orange. He sunk his teeth into my orange.
I complained to the teacher, but what could she really do? I didn’t want an orange with Willie’s teeth marks.
Ten years later Willie and I were starting centers on opposing high school basketball teams. Sometime during the game he got the ball at mid post. He turned to shoot over me. I blocked his shot. He gathered the ball and attempted another shot. I blocked it again. He again gathered the ball and tried a shot. This time I placed both hands over the ball before it left his hands.
The referee called for a jump ball. As we prepared ourselves to jump I looked at Willie and said, “That’s for taking a bite out of my orange.”
He looked at me as if I was speaking a strange language.
That’s it. That’s the last contact I had with Willie.
The other day I read in my hometown newspaper Willie died.
I have become a strong believer in God’s promise and power to resurrect everyone to an earthly paradise. (Matt 5:5; John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15) If I can recall that insignificant event that happened 60 years ago, for certain God remembers all those who have died. (Malachi 3:16)
When that occurs, I’m going to find Willie and challenge him to a game of one on one – winner gets an orange.