A childhood memory reimagined – #modpolive

Our ModPo Global Studies Group is reading a poem about Ray Charles, Blues Note, by Bob Kaufman. I dug this up from the deep recesses of suppressed memory. #modpolive

Our parents took us to see Ray Charles
At the Carlotta Supper Club in our hometown
Greensboro. Chitling circuit they called it.
Mama said no, but Daddy said the children
should see this. History in the making. Mama
was afraid we’d see Daddy’s drinking. It was dark
and smokey inside. Each table had its own “set-up”
because clubs back then couldn’t sell drinks.
Ray came out with his guide who sat him down
at the piano. He looked up, eyes shaded,
and flashed that light-giving smile. We knew
something special was in store. Then the piano
came alive and the magical journey was underway.
What you say? Hit the road, Jack.

4 thoughts on “A childhood memory reimagined – #modpolive

  1. This ignited memories for me. I hadn’t thought about clubs not being able to sell drinks for a long time. I never got to see Ray Charles but I sat outside a venue where he was playing and got to listen to him. I think I was about fifteen or sixteen at the time.
    Thanks for this jolt!


  2. Always been a Ray Charles fan and while the memories jogged loose for me are likely different, they’re still great. He rules supreme in this house as our 2-year-old grandaughter is named Georgia and that song was played day and night when she was born and is still heard often. It doesn’t hurt that one of our favourite cities is Savannah, I guess. It occurred to me as I read your poem how different our first live experience of Charles was. Too many years ago to count, we saw him at Ontario Place, an outdoor venue right on Lake Ontario where the crowd sits on the hills surrounding the stage. It was an amazing concert but one of the things I remember is the ending when Charles sang and the crowd joined in, “Let’s all get drunk…and go on home…” This went on for some time and when I think of it now, I cringe, but I remember back then — it was charming. Wow. Times have changed, yes?
    Cool poem,Ray – thanks.


    1. thank you for the note. My parents were supporters of Greensboro’s chitling circuit, the Carlotta Supper Club and the El Rocco. Real dives, real holes in the wall, but all the leading names on the circuit came there. My mother’s favorite was Nat King Cole, who would come with his family to nearby Sedalia where his wife was from for the holidays. He would often just show up and play, and later, sing, but he was foremost a pianist. I was too young back then but my mother would tell me about him and she would be so excited that he just showed up. Daddy was the Ray Charles fan.


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