Cappuccino Soul

Cappuccino Soul

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Bennie Benjamin was a Man!

Here is my grandfather’s biography, written by his son (my dad), Bobby Benjamin.

My name is Bennie Benjamin. I cannot remember a time when I did not want to be a man. If you want to compare me with anybody in this world, compare me with John Henry, the “Steel Driving Man.”

I was born in Sardis, South Carolina. My father, Peter and my mother, Isabella owned a big house that set on several acres of land. Some said the property looked like a plantation. My parents taught me and my brother and sisters to work hard “having something” like them.

The third grade was as far as I got in school. It was through the help of my dear mother that I learned to read, write, and “figure.” I owe it to my dear mother (God bless her soul), that no one could ever cheat me. Mr. Carriway, the man I was sharecropping with tried to do just that. I worked hard, year after year, and was further and further in debt with Mr. Carriway. One year I had to tell my wife Lizzie that we had cleared just $300. That is the reason I left South Carolina and moved north. I was not worried about making it because God had blessed me with a strong, powerful body like John Henry. First, I went to Quantico, Virginia then Washington, D.C., got work in both places and was soon laid off. I decided to write my wife’s brother, Fulton McElveen, who lived in Norwood, North Carolina. I asked Mac to look out for me a place to move my family. Mac answered right away and said Andy Horne was willing to sell me five acres of land with a house on it for $500. Mac loaned me $50 for a down payment.

Believing as I always did in “having something,” I applied for a job right away. I was hired in the “Pot Room,” at an Aluminum Plant in Badin, North Carolina. I also did a little farming on the side. I added a room to my house and bought a nice 1939 green Pontiac. I think people in the community was a little jealous of me because someone was overheard to say, “How can Bennie get so much and have a house full of children?” They did not know the power of hard work!

When I die, let my epitaph read these simple words:

BB Benjamin was a MAN!
May he rest in peace.


Anne said...

He sure was a man. Sounds like you have a wonderful family. What a great story, and I love the old picture. Do you know what year he was born? (Just curious.)

Alicia Benjamin-Samuels said...

Yes he was a serious man from what my dad tells me. Didn't take any mess from anybody. I'm trying to call up his strength as I type this. I sure need it.
He was born in 1902 and died in 1945, five years after my dad was born.

Anne said...

It's tiring to always be on guard against people's mess, but I imagine it was of utmost importance for your grandfather at that time. I would have loved to hear his stories.

Why do you say you need his strength now? Is everything o.k.? Hopefully you can get some support from friends and fellow bloggers. I don't know what I could do from here, but you're welcome to ask.

Alicia Benjamin-Samuels said...

Everything is fine.
I'm just learning how to call on the ancestors when I need support and guidance--something we all need from time to time.

Anne said...

They are there, but you must be very quiet and listen ever so carefully. Knowing their voices still exist is half the battle.

Anonymous said...

Although I am about 4 years late, I loved the story about my grandfather as it was never told to me. It brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing your blog with me!

Crystal Benjamin, granddaughter of Bennie Benjamin!

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

My dear cousin,
It's never too late to hear the history of the family love. Your uncle, my father, will be elated to read your comments and to know that you got so much from the story.
We love you cuz!!!