When Clans Collide under the Influence of Urban Renewal, Baby Boomers, Knuckleheads, and Stupidville
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Wayne Rudolph Davidson delves deeper into his family history in this second book of his When Clans Collide trilogy.

Exploring his own personal branch that stems from the genealogical trunk of the distinguished Davidson family tree, he writes from the perspective of an African-American male born in the post-World War II era caught in a firestorm of extraordinary social change, civil disturbance, and a burgeoning drug culture.

His life runs in tandem with the migration of African-Americans from the rural South to urban centers in the North and historic events such as the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert F. Kennedy. He seamlessly blends his family genealogy and his own mistakes and triumphs with American history.

From being an unemployed autoworker living and working in a dark tunnel to positions of responsibility and authority as a member of the U.S. Army in strategic places around the world, in this book, the author gets a chance rarely given to African-American men: to tell his story before his peers instead of before a magistrate.

“I am going to shoot your ass!” These words emanated from the dark night and rattled around in my brain as my six-foot-three-inch frame with wild disco hair tensed up in anticipation of a sharp blow and the soft verbal response of “Oh God!” escaped my lips. The one open eye could not survey quickly an immediate escape route among the stacks of clutter in this garage lit only by the shadows in the snow. I remember the year 1978 and how bleak it was. The weather was cold, and there I was hanging out with a friend named Greene Cutlass. We were both broke from factory layoffs, and the fuel gauges in both our cars were on near-empty as usual during the energy crisis of the 1970s. Sometime during the day, I had a dare from my brother, Glen. There was an abandoned house across Grand River Avenue that was easy picking for pulling a “rip”—a street term associated with taking something that belonged to someone else. I was never any good at taking physical things that did not belong to me, just maybe a kiss from somebody's girl. But I told Greene about it, and we waited for dark to walk up the alleyway to the house. The dark came, and we parked the car and walked up to the house through the alleyway. We entered the garage looking and feeling about in the dark for something of value. We'd started to pick over stuff when suddenly someone yelled out, “Who is out there?” Greene and I were stunned. The house was supposed to be empty. Then the person yelled, “I got a gun, come out with your hands up!” Greene and I looked for an escape route, but there was no place to go. All we could do was slink slowly out of the shadows and into the moonlight toward the voice. The man holding the pistol was angry and said he was tired of people ripping the house off. He told us that this night was going to be our worst nightmare. He planned to call a friend to help get the message out to leave this house alone, and the two of us would be the message-carriers. Greene and I were subdued in our responses, because we did not want to fuel the man's anger any more than it already was and have the pistol go off. He held the gun and told us to go into the house so he could call his buddy for assistance in taking care of us. Of course, at this point, my mind was thinking the worse. It appeared that I was either going to get shot dead or pistol-whipped to a pulp. I was not happy. I was also afraid and angry at my brother for getting me into this mess. I calmly prayed and asked for God's help through the name of Jesus Christ. The guy placed his call with the pistol still in his hand. When he finished the call, he started to ask us why we were in the garage. I told him that we'd heard the house was abandoned, and we were looking for something of value to take. He got upset again, shouting loudly that this house was not abandoned. Greene and I made our apologies, but the guy said he was waiting for his friend to determine the next step. The tone of his statement did not sound very encouraging to either Greene or me. Shortly thereafter, there was a knock on the door. Another man entered carrying a pistol down at his side. As he walked into the room, the first guy updated him on what had been taking place in the garage. The situation did not look good for Greene and me. Again, Greene and I apologized for our actions, but the situation looked grim. The second guy said something to the first guy that I could not make out, but I could now see his face in the light. It was Cleve Childs, a friend from high school and the Big Boy Restaurant. It had been nearly nine years since I had seen that face. My only hope now was that he remembered my face from back in the day. I gained his attention and told him that I thought I knew him. He grimly muttered back, “Yep!” I said from work and school. He grimly muttered back again, “Yep!” Cleve never said much, but when he did, people always seemed to listen. Cleve said a few words to the other guy; the guy put his gun away and then Cleve put his gun away. Now all the guns were put away, and the situation was becoming less tense. I think it is fair to say that when Cleve walked through the door that wintry evening, God had answered my prayer. Now I was just waiting for word to take leave of my captors, because I was ready to get out of there and never look back. My first stop would be to find my sibling and wring his neck. The evening had turned benevolent, as our captors suddenly became our hosts. They offered us some of their powdery stash. I was in shock; I partook of the hospitality, but I was still uncomfortable. I did not want the air to change back to hostile. Greene, on the other hand, was acting like he lived there, and in my opinion was getting too damn comfortable. In my view, we'd literally dodged a bullet, so I thought it was time to go. They shared their stash, and Greene and I stayed about another thirty minutes. During the whole episode, Cleve and I did not say much to each other, and when Greene and I left, it was the last time I ever saw Cleve Childs. Finally, Greene and I headed to the car, and I was relieved. We had an unbelievable story to tell, and without a doubt we were grateful for the absence of malice in the hearts of our armed hosts. My prayer had been answered, but I was still angry at my brother for planting the seed of thievery and angry at Greene because he wanted to hang around a volatile situation. I was not raised a thief. I received my “be safe” speech before I left the house. I am grateful that I survived this harrowing encounter, and I hoped that the rest of 1978 would not have so much potential for disaster.

 Wayne Rudolph Davidson, a research analyst, earned a doctoral degree in management and organizational leadership from the University of Phoenix. He's also the author of When Clans Collide and Manufacturing African American Self-Employment in the Detroit Metropolitan Area. He and wife, Bertha, have four girls and one granddaughter.


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