The death of a loved one always creates a feeling of nostalgia, a time of reflection. Guest writer Jim Bullock collects his thoughts on his cousin Arthur.
The first memories of my cousin Arthur were when he and his brother Harold lived with our grandmother Rosa Bullock & aunt Jerdenia in Wildwood, VA. I always thought of them as a pair as everyone else in the family did. It was always “Artie & Harold”, like the Cisco Kid & Poncho or the Lone Ranger & Tonto! Harold followed Artie and did whatever Artie did. I was too young to follow them around or witness much of their antics, but I heard the stories that Grandma & Aunt Jerry told about them.
Apparently they were known to some in the community as the “Red Boys” due to their complexions & Harold’s red hair. Grandma would get complaints from neighbors like Bill Wood, Mrs. Annie Jackson & Bob Harris that those “Red Boys” “threw rocks at my chickens” or “stole my peaches”. Grandma’s admonishment was probably not that severe. Having known her, she probably thought it amusing
I did not experience school with the “Red Boys” due to the differences in our ages. Artie and Harold both attended Douglas Elementary School in Wildwood. Artie may have attended Abrams High for a year before returning to Washington; of this I am not sure. They did return to Washington, D.C. to live with their parents and sisters the year before I started school. Artie left the country life behind and Harold followed soon thereafter in the same order they had come to live with Grandma and Aunt Jerry some ten years earlier.
I had attended school for some time before I learned of Artie’s academic gifts. My sixth grade teacher at Central Elementary School was also our second cousin, Mrs. Anna Bullock Thompson. Cousin Anna had also taught Artie & Harold at Douglas. She ranked students by their six-week grade averages. The highest in the left most front seat and continued to the last seat in the last row on the right. I held the second seat from the highest the entire school year. I could not knock out the girl in the first seat though I tried!
One day Cousin Anna shared with me that Artie sat in the further most back seat in her class, even though he could have easily dominated the number one seat. Artie knew that Anna would call on people in the seating order. He would sit in the back and do his homework or memorize a poem before she got to him!
Once she had assigned a lengthy poem, probably something like “The Walrus & the Carpenter”. Anna thought to herself “I’ve got him this time”! She knew that Artie had not studied at home. To Anna’s amazement and true to Artie’s form, when she called on him, Artie recited the whole poem without missing a word! Anna told me that Arthur Bullock was one of the smartest students she had ever seen in any class!
I did not see much of Artie over the decades that followed except for brief visits now and then. We hung out a little bit when he came to visit Grandma and Jerry in the early ‘70’s.
I always admired his heavy mustache. I could never get mine to grow as thick! Artie was a smooth operator.