My Black Grandparents
In 2011, I spoke at the funeral of my black grandmother, the Mother Teresa of Mineral County. Ruth Davis lived and served on this earth for 100 years. The year was 1953. I had always wondered how my parents ended up in Hawthorne, Nevada from the north of Montana.
When I was asked to speak at Grandma Ruth’s funeral, I called my 80 year old aunt and asked her if she remembered how Mom and Dad ended up in Hawthorne, Nevada. She remembered quite well. My grandparents went on a vacation to California. While they were gone, my dad sold off several of my grandpa’s cows. They used to call that cattle rustling. It was a capital offense at one time.
Well, my dad packed the family up and headed south. 1100 hundred miles later he must have run out of money. My dad was the thirstiest man on the planet. He had to stop every 30 miles to get a cold drink of water or something. The first building he saw when he reached Hawthorne was called The Blue Light Bar. My dad didn’t know it at the time, but this was a black bar. Or a bar that only black men went into. Herman Davis was the owner of The Blue Light Bar and was tending at the time. It is possible that Herman Davis may have been the first black man that my dad had ever met. My dad was born and raised in the northern part of North Dakota.
When we lived in Montana, I had never seen a black man. Dad went into the bar and asked Herman Davis for help. Dad was desperate. Herman and Ruth Davis took in a poor white family, gave them food, gave them money, gave my dad work, gave them a place to live.
In 1953, the plight of the black man was dismal in America. Right in the home café in Hawthorne Nevada, the whites and the blacks had two different menus. For a black person, a cup of coffee was $5.95. It was a dime for a white person. Bacon and eggs cost a black man $12.95. For a white man it was $.69. In the midst of this generational hatred of the black race, two Christians by the name of Ruth and Herman Davis showed compassion to a poor, desperate, broke and broken white trash family.
As I related this story at Ruth's funeral, I said “Ruth and Herman were colored people, and they were also color blind . I believe God gave us different skin color and different features to test our Christianity. Ruth and Herman Davis were the best Christians that I knew.” About 6 months before Ruth’s death, I spoke at her church, The Bethel Baptist church in Hawthorne. She was nearly 100 years old, enduring to the end as she pushed her walker down the aisle. Still attending church and living a good Christian walk. When she saw me she said, “There’s one of my babies.”
Author’s note: When we are moved with compassion to lift the burdens of others, heaven smiles upon us. “For I was an hungered and ye gave me meat, I was thirsty and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger and ye took me in.” If the kind of heart that moved Ruth and Herman Davis to help a poor white man and his young family were in the hearts of leaders of countries and corporations, war and conflict would cease today. The heavens do take it personally, the way we treat each other for good or evil. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25: 35-46.
Ruth and Herman Davis were not your typical Christians. They were real Christians. How easy is it to love those who love us? Where is the test of one’s Christianity? To love unconditionally regardless of skin color or race or origin, is to love as He loves. My wonderful black grandparents loved us in this fashion.