John R. Brown, 79 

What I do

I used to live across the street behind that church [points], but they tore the house down. Next door there used to be a barber shop with a rooming house in the back of it. But that got torn down too. Hull Street has gone down the drain. There isn't anything you can buy. Now you can't even buy a pocket handkerchief. The building owners wouldn't fix the buildings up, so they got torn down.

But I'm glad they're tearing down stuff around here. There's too much going on with people breaking in and stealing. And there's all this cussing and raising hell. Kids around here don't have a mom and daddy to correct them. A child can't be raised without a daddy. The boys today don't stand in fear of a woman. A daddy will put a stick on you. A daddy means what he says.

I came out of the country where it's quiet. I was born in 1922 in Buckingham. I still have kin there. But I've been coming and going to Richmond since I was 21 — before you were born. I didn't serve in World War II since I'd just turned 18 when the war broke up.

I worked at a slate quarry in Buckingham but spent most of my life driving a tractor-trailer truck. I retired in 1965 after driving trucks all up and down the East Coast. Mostly mixed loads, some of everything. I had to pack the trucks a certain way to unload them in the right order.

I got a lot of speeding tickets — a lot of speeding tickets. Things were rough near Colonial Heights, real rough down there. But state troopers usually let me go. I told them I had a schedule to keep.

I was driving before they built any kind of highways. I'd make better time on the interstates: I could sit back, cross my legs. There was more activity, more to see, on the old roads. But on the interstates, when you're moving fast you've got to keep your eyes open. But you can look at the mountains in the distance.

I live alone and sit on this porch. Even in winter. I'll let anybody hang with me. I treat them right. I drink Budweiser, but if somebody comes along and offers me something else, that's all right. If someone gives me a gift, I don't turn it down.

I sometimes go to church, but church is in your head. When Jesus comes looking for you, he's not looking for no building. He's looking for your soul.


Latest in Miscellany


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Connect with Style Weekly

Most Popular Stories

  • Off the Beaten Path

    Off the Beaten Path

    A runner and lifelong lover of the James River captures evocative images of the park system in photo book.
    • Jul 27, 2021
  • Museum Makeovers

    Museum Makeovers

    How four Richmond museums are being transformed.
    • Jul 20, 2021
  • Deep Dive

    Deep Dive

    A writer attempts to find the best dive bars in town.
    • Jul 13, 2021
  • One Stop Shop

    One Stop Shop

    Jackson Ward’s beloved Stoplight Gelato set to reopen this fall with a new partner, Richmond Seltzer Co.
    • Jul 13, 2021
  • More »

Copyright © 2021 Style Weekly
Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion
All rights reserved
Powered by Foundation