Clarence Thomas: A Biography

By Andrew Peyton Thomas | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
A Phoenix Rises in Pin Point

In Pin Point, Georgia, births and weddings were cause for community celebration. They affirmed life and union, neither of which African-Americans ever had taken for granted. On June 23, 1948, the people of Pin Point were treated to one of each.

Like virtually all of the other residents of Pin Point, Leola Thomas was looking forward to attending the wedding of two townspeople later in the day. The nuptials of Jack and Patricia Luten went forward as planned, but Leola would not be there because early that morning, "Clarence decided he wanted to come."

Upon learning of Leola's labor, the women of Pin Point arrived at the house and huddled around her bed. Lula Kamp, a midwife, showed up shortly to coach Leola through the ordeal. The bedroom sweltered with the light and heat of the rising Georgia sun. Occasional brackish zephyrs from the saltwater marsh bordering the back yard wafted through the window but provided little relief. Throughout the day, the mounting wails of childbirth competed with the cawing of blue jays and mockingbirds in the motley forest of trees surrounding the house.

After fourteen hours of labor, Leola let out her final cries and exerted her last strong, youthful pushes. As the head and shoulders appeared, Kamp pulled the baby through.

Several months earlier, Leola's father, Myers Anderson, had stood before her, making faces and mumbling things to her belly. He subscribed to a superstitious maxim he had heard along the way, or perhaps invented himself: A baby will resemble whoever perturbs the child's pregnant mother. Myers' tense stare easily melted Leola to tears. By all appearances, his attempt to "will" Leola's second baby to be a boy was a success.

The baby would not be named after Myers, who would have to wait

-51-

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