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Robert Foster's (1938-1988) Successful Move to Becoming a Builder

Family reunion when Daddy entered. He great his oldest brother, James Foster. I was in high school when I took this photo.

The brothers were very close. Two brothers, Robert Foster and Curtis Foster lived at the time in Cleveland with their families. Remember that Robert had the same name as my father, Robert. I explained why in "The Day of Granddaddy's Funeral." Most of them lived in Illinois, so Chicago Heights, Illinois was where the reunion was held. I can remember taking this photo. I cannot remember the exact date, but when I look at it now I feel so glad that I took it then.

When I looked at my dad back then, he seemed like a hero. In 1969 when I was four, he seems that same hero. I never knew what challenges African Americans had back then. I learned about them long after he was gone in 1988. My daddy accomplish whatever he said he would do. He taught me to never say, "I can't." He did not want to hear me say it. I never did. I never wanted to.

My memory of what I consider to be our first house is very special to me at 1202 Cutter Ave, Joliet, Illinois. My dad was a mathematical statistician who worked for US Civil Services in the 60's and 70's. Parents did not talk much back then to young children as they do now. The second house we lived in was the first one that my parents purchased.

One day as I looked out the living room window of this house, I saw my father building another house. I had heard no mention of this, but it fascinated me as I watched from next door as he progressed from the foundation to the roofing.

I cannot remember how long it took, but it did not seem long. It was a ranch style brick home. He, with great pride, took our family on a tour when it was finished. I was most fascinated by the dining room which was separated by a varnished, knotty pine wall with a window providing a view to the kitchen.

My father helped a lot of family members move to the North from Tennessee. I was oblivious to the struggles of African American during the 60's and 70's. The house we lived in was much bigger with two stories and a full basement, but I looked proudly at my dad on our tour and asked, "Can we move here?" He responded without hesitation, "Yes."

I miss my dad, but I discovered where he acquired his skills and talents when I came across his father's, James Foster, carpenter's union dues register. He was a traveling carpenter. I am very fortunate to have had such an intelligent and wonderful father. Here is his dad's carpenter's union dues register from 4 Sep 1943:

James Foster, father, Local Union 586, Sacramento, California, Carpenter's Union dues book, 1943

I am sure that the things he taught me came from his own life experiences and the words he too heard while growing up. I have only to heed to those voices in memory bank to put the same values in context for me today. And guess what? They still work. I do not have to make up a new set of rules. These old standards will still get me to my destination unimpeded.

Next week, I share another post.

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