1928 - Alderson High School - 1968

 

 

Jute Burger
John McCurdy

Jute Burger was the towns bootlegger in the 30s, 40s and the 50s. He brought the booze into our town during all the years when one would have to go to a neighboring town to purchase any alcoholic beverage other than beer. He brought it into our town and he delivered it to the homes and offices and stores of those who did not care to risk their reputation by being seen entering, or even worse, exiting the state liquor store with packages under their arm. He was, one might say, a public utility. If not that, then at the least, a public servant!

Jute was a black man, successful in what he did, but subject to all the unwritten traditional restraints unique to his race. He was well aware that his livelihood depended upon things other than just his work and his abilities.

Always dressed in a suit and tie, clean, neat and of good quality material, always driving a new model Chevrolet, (careful not to get too uppity and upgrade into the Oldsmobile class of his good customers of the gentry; offending no one, slipping and sliding along, at once both obsequious and arrogant, tugging at his forelock while mocking one at the same time. He did what he had to do to survive without working too hard in the white mans world. 

I was too young to ever need his services, although once a friend and I climbed the long, steep stairs to his house on hopes of buying a pint of his wares, only to be turned down!  Juke took his meals, and it was said, other pleasures, with the Banks family, a black educators family who lived just below us on the Monroe Hillside of Alderson. The handsome daughter, Miss Alice, also did Jukes washing and ironing. I can remember watching from the dining room window at my Grandmothers house as Juke drove up the highway past our home in his new yellow and white Chevrolet on up the hill to turn his automobile around and then come back and park his car in  the very limited space on the side of the road near the Cummings and Banks houses. He would get out of the car, in his Chesterfield overcoat and his leather gloves, take out his large white handkerchief and very carefully dust any speck of dust that had dared settle on his pride and joy. After bending over the outside mirror of the car to inspect his teeth, making sure his attire was immaculate and to his liking, he would slowly stroll behind the hedges along the path leading to the Banks home.

 

For A. H. S. Ever Always - In Every Way For A. H. S.