Let me tell you a 10-year-old boy’s story. It was the summer of 1970, a weekday with a blue sky a few fluffy white clouds, a little warm with little wind but not unpleasant. He was walking, playing golf alone and was in the fairway on the 5th hole at Eglin A.F.B. Golf Course. He was waiting for a group of three men in front of him to clear the green.
As two of the men (white men) put their clubs away in the golf cart the third (a black man) started walking down the hill to the 6th tee box. The boy hit his shot to the green and was walking with his head down staring at the ground thinking of the coming putt.
There was a commotion to his left and the man who was walking fell down and was still on the ground. The boy was just short of the green when this happened and he hurried down the hill towards the men. He asked what happened and one man replied, "He was walking down the hill, stumbled, caught himself and then just went down a step or two later".
The men quickly decided that one of them, the younger man, would run to the clubhouse and the older would take the cart and whoever got there first would be for the best result. That left that boy there by himself. The man was face up with no movement. If he was breathing he couldn't tell.
The boy decided to push on the man's chest like he had seen on TV., as he did the man made a gurgling sound which startled the boy, so he quit.
He wasn't sure if what he was doing was helping or hurting. He sat there watching this man, the moisture on his face, the lack of movement. This man was a common figure at the course, known by most, liked by all that knew him, to the boy's knowledge. Never in the time it took for the ambulance to get there did this boy consider the color of this man. All he knew about the man was he was a fellow golfer, a member of a club that brought great joy to the many who played there and that he needed help.
The ambulance arrived later and took the man away, the boy not even knowing how long it took, it seemed like an eternity. The boy walked to the clubhouse with his head down starring at the ground, not contemplating the next putt or the next shot. To this day the boy couldn't even tell you if he had picked up his ball from the previous shot as he left the area that really didn't matter to him.
The boy knew he had sat there at the tender age of 10-years-old and had watched a man die; black, white, red, yellow, however society may describe you made no difference. He felt helpless. At 14-years-old his parents moved to Milton because his father had gotten a civil service job at Whiting Field.
The boy took a lot of great childhood memories with him from that golf course but he also took one he will never forget.
Later at about 20-years-old the young man took a Red Cross course at P.J.C. so that he would never be put in that situation of helplessness again. To be able to help anybody at their greatest moment of need regardless of color, gender or anything else that may try to divide society.
That 10-year-old boy has not spoken of this often but feels that in the so-called divided racist society of today, he needs to. It’s just not nearly as bad as some people make it out to be.
That 10 year old boy was me.
Steven M. King