This article is the final installment of memoirs chronicling my educational experiences as a Black student during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. I attended Virginia’s segregated elementary and high schools. My last two years of high school were at Culver Military Academy (Culver Academies), an integrated preparatory school in Culver, Indiana. When I enrolled in 1970, Duke University was seven years into integration and still struggling with its racist history. This installment is my first-hand account of being a Black student at Duke during the early 1970s.

Friends and associates have asked why I decided to attend Duke. The answer…

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

I served as the guest speaker at a men’s gathering a few years ago. The subject of my speech was “The Quarter-Miler Man.”

I drew an analogy between the traits of a quarter-mile sprinter and those of an enlightened man. Much as the experienced quarter-mile sprinter knows the ebbs and flows of a quarter-mile race, a man (or woman) experienced in life and love is knowledgeable about the stages in a romantic relationship.

The Internet contains many articles on the subject, with the number of stages ranging from three to ten.

As I was preparing for the speech, I recalled…

Honda Goldwing F6B on the Blue Ridge Parkway, photo from author’s private collection

Riding motorcycles is a hobby and passion. I started riding when I was contemplating early retirement. The risk notwithstanding, I was looking for something fun, out of character, exciting and adventurous. I found what I was looking for in becoming a biker.

Many motorcyclists use video blogging to create diaries of their rides. I am not quite there. I write about many of my rides. In doing so, I can combine my passion for motorcycling with my passion for telling stories.

Come along for a short ride.

This ride was a solo, as are most of my rides.

The plan…

Author on Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park.

In the 1987 drama film Wall Street, Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko boastfully decreed, “Greed, for the lack of a better word, is good.” Although viewed as a human vice, greed defined the 80s, much as the counter-culture hippies defined the 60s and 70s.

In contrast, retirement, the pinnacle of a long working career, is considered by some to be a curse.

Ernest Hemingway is known to have said, “Retirement is the ugliest word in the language.”

This platform and others contain many articles citing retirement negativity. So much so that the suffix “ism” should be attached to retirement. According…

Author on Blue Ridge Parkway with Honda Goldwing

I turned 69 in March 2021, and these are my best days.

My grandmother, God rest her soul, transitioned in 1969 at the age of 71. In my seventeen-year-old eyes, she was an old lady. I think it was because she was frail, cared for by my uncle, and in poor health.

I can visualize her now, chewing and spitting snuff (smokeless tobacco), a scowl on her face, hair braided down the middle, dressed in her favorite muumuu.

I am not my grandmother’s nor dad’s, for that matter, 69-year-old. I don’t feel or look (in my eyes) as they did.

Many couples have a song that was significant during one or more stages in their relationship. My wife and I were in our mid-sixties when we started dating. We had lived full lives, had adult children and grandchildren. The words to the song “Seems Like I Met You Somewhere Before,” sung by Beau Williams, captured our shared feelings during the early stage of our relationship.

Our Love Story

My wife, Barbara, and I grew up about seven miles from each other and attended the same elementary and high schools. We did not date and only knew of each other. Although…

This article is Part II to my earlier article “Separate and Unequal — Part I, Elementary and High School Days,” which chronicled my experiences attending Virginia’s segregated schools during the 1950s and 60s. During the spring of 1968, I was awarded an A Better Chance (ABC) scholarship to attend Culver Military Academy (now Culver Academies), a private boarding school in Indiana. My Culver days, sprinkled with nuggets of experiences growing up black during the Jim Crow era, are chronicled here.

The summer of 1968 marked a new station in my life. To put the time in perspective, the spring and…

I am a buttoned-up type guy, and people who know me are often curious as to what possessed me to ride motorcycles. There is nothing in my past that would suggest any interest in motorcycles, an inherently dangerous activity with its rebellious, bad boy and anti-establishment images. I do not expect naysayers to be convinced by my story. Bikers, on the other hand, will recognize similar feelings, thoughts and experiences.

Me standing at the top of a mountain somewhere near Mount Mitchel on the Blue Ridge Parkway

My Story

I recall watching a television program about a guy and his obsession with a Jaguar XJS V12 Coupe. It was Jaguar green, tan leather interior, with a hood…

Separate and Unequal — Part I, Elementary and High School Days

My early childhood education started at Fair Oaks Elementary School, a segregated school in Henrico County, Virginia. At that time (1958), separate but equal laws (Jim Crow) prevented black kids (we were Negroes then) from attending schools with white kids. ​

I first realized I was at significant risk for getting prostate cancer 15 years ago, when my older brother, who was then in his mid-forties, informed me that he had been diagnosed with an enlarged prostate and later prostate cancer. He had surgery in 1997 to remove his prostate.

My father had prostate surgery about 35 years ago. I knew little about the disease at that time, and other than knowing that he had had the surgery to remove his prostate, I don’t remember much about it. I do know that when he was hospitalized in 2005, his doctors asked…

Ralph M Davis

Retiree, cancer survivor, biker, former widower, husband, father, grandfather, brother, and writer. Life lessons are shared through stories and reflections.

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