In this vivid and piercing memoir of his grandfather, noted novelist Kenji Jasper captures the story of his family and sheds a keen light on the urban and rural experiences of Black America.
Author Kenji Jasper only knew his maternal grandfather, Jesse Langley Sr., as a quiet man who smoked too many cigarettes, drank too much liquor and quoted the Bible like it was the only book he’d ever laid eyes on.
Jesse’s children rarely hugged him, and his nearly sixty years of marriage to Sally seemed cold and complicated. But when the man who declared himself “The Lone Ranger” passed away in late 2002, Kenji began a long and life-changing journey to learn more about the grandfather he barely knew. From the streets of his native Washington, D.C., to rural Virginia, North Carolina, and his home in Brooklyn, Jasper’s journey to find the truth leads him through three generations of stories, through tales of love and loss, loyalty and betrayal, addiction and redemption.
The House on Childress Street examines life, love, and survival through the eyes of one little family on one little block that somehow manages to speak for us all.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of Family & Relationships eBook: The House on Childress Street|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Broadway Books|
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The House on Childress Street
"You must not have blinds at your house," my grandma Sally Helen Langley chuckles, her eighty-two years of benevolence wrapped in a housedress adorned with blue and white flowers. I have to struggle with the aging string before the metal slats twist open, forcing freshly squeezed sunlight into the newly redecorated abode.
It's been nine months since my grandfather's passing and things in their house are in even better order than before. There are new cabinets in the railroad-style kitchen and a new silver fridge complete with an ice maker. The walls are now white instead of their previous lime green. The old brown carpet has been stripped away for a new burgundy one, and the green velvet couch set, a sacred cow in Langley home entertainment, has been switched out for a crème sofa and loveseat set, both with more pillows than they should be able to hold.
"There's so many pillows that when people come in to sit down they can't find nowhere to sit," she says as she smiles, taking a seat across from me. "Before he passed Jesse said he was gonna fix this place up real nice and put a sign out front that say 'The Langleys.' He had started doing everything. But he didn't finish nothin' he started. Poor thing."
Her words make me remember a visit I made to see the Lone Ranger while she was down in Richmond, VA, taking care of her sister Rebecca as she lived out her last days with cancer. There wasn't a light on in the front of the house and the dining room table was covered with two boxes full of tools. The old man had work to do.
He'd refitted the wood paneling on the first-level porch and started to