Sunday, July 23, 2006

Growing Together and Apart in the 1970s

Early '70s photo, when Alex was just beginning to experiment with fashions
This collection is a mix of family photos from the 1970s. My brother, Alex, was constantly innovating with different fashions. Alex was usually dressed sharply in the 70s with platform shoes, wide collared pastel-colored shirts and puffy sleeves. On the other hand, I was known for having no taste for fancy clothes, often wearing raggedy jeans, hiking boots and wrinkled T-shirts. An adult friend of the family once observed that “One boy looks like he’s walking out of the pages of GQ magazine, while the other looks like he’s in Popular Mechanics.”

Two brothers with very different styles of dress and taste

My father was also fond of noting the contrast, not only in our style of dress, but also in our personalities. He called my brother the “diplomat,” saying that Alex never wanted to be offensive and always tried to please. On the other hand, he called me “rebellious,” for being very blunt and sharp-tongued. As adults we both moderated our distinguishing traits somewhat. Alex is certainly much less diplomatic than he was as a child and teenager, and I am less blunt. These days Alex often accuses me of being the “conformist” due to my church affiliations and work with academic institutions; neither of which he has much taste for.

Also our positions on the clothing spectrum have shifted somewhat. I still find it difficult to wear formal attire unless absolutely necessary and generally hold the middle ground on clothing by wearing business casual fashions. Alex, on the other hand tends to wear casual attire, often consisting of jeans, a hoodie and a T-shirt.

Cousin Jeffery, Uncle Jake and Aunt Dot

The photo above is of my cousin Jeffery Pounds and his parents Uncle Jake and Aunt Dot. They lived in East Orange, New Jersey, but often came to Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving. They were related to Bishop Turner, who was my grandmother’s second husband after Matthew Emanuel died. We called my mother’s father “Pops” and my grandmother’s second husband “Pop-Pop.” We always called my grandmother, “Grimmommy.”

In many ways Cousin Jeffery was like a third brother during the times he would come to Pittsburgh, but as an only child he was also shy. I remember one time when we visited the Pounds in New Jersey and it was time for us to leave. Rather than come down and say good-bye Jeffery stayed up in his room and watched us pack the car from his window. He hated to say good-bye.

Two brothers: constrasts and similarities in the 1970s

The picture above is of my brother and me, probably in the late 1970s. I am on the left, in typically casual attire, wearing blue jeans and a blue running jacket. Alex is uncharacteristically casual with blue jeans and a beige turtleneck sweater.

My father, the Reverend Doctor A.A. Hawkins, Sr.

The above photo is my father, who was not only a college professor but also a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. My mother didn’t want to be a preacher’s wife and my father promised not to go into the ministry if they got married. They had, however, a difficult time conceiving the first child, and my father made a promise to God that if he could have a son my father would enter the ministry. Every generation on my father’s side of the family has produced AME ministers since the late 19th century, but despite the fact that he had two older brothers, my father’s generation was in danger of being the first generation not to produce clergy. So, my father prayed about it and soon afterward my mother was pregnant with Alex, Jr. After Alex was born, and proved to be a healthy baby, my father kept up his end of the bargain and took up the ministry. He mostly ministered to small churches on the outskirts of the city, and always donated the preacher’s salary to the church. He continued his ministry until the day he died.

The above is a photo of my brother and me with my mother, and photo below is a bit out of place – it is a photo from the mid-1960s from elementary school days. We were attending Lemington Elementary at the time, a school that had recently made the transition from being a primarily working-class Italian school to a school that was predominately African American. The Lincoln-Lemington area in which we lived had become a working-class African American neighborhood with a few whites still remaining.

I was probably in the 3rd grade in this photo
I think Alex is in the 5th grade here

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