Monday, February 10, 2014
Mel lived until 1987, and passed on after a valiant battle with diabetes, but in sequence, I, then David continued the little business into the present after some unbelievable hardships at times. David has doggedly pursued the brass ring through years of child-rearing as a single parent of four children while refusing to give in to changes in the economics of the day; the flight of our customer base caused by gentrification of South Berkeley; and a radically changing marketplace. It's been touch-and-go for decades, and I'd love to free him from the need to carry on, but I think any attempt at shutting the shop down at this point would be futile.
I'm caught between seeing the challenge as hopeless and the continuing hope that those years of relative financial success that allowed Mel and me to build that dream home in the suburbs in which to raise him and his siblings for many years can be repeated in his time. I find myself wishing to free him to pursue some other avenue to personal success.
After watching this video below created by filmmaker Pam Uzzell, and hearing the passion in his quiet voice, I suspect that the dream has taken firm root and will have to die of natural causes. Whatever comes next may be determined by just how successfully he is able to make the dream his own. His older brother, Bob, and I share great pride in his refusal to give in to short term setbacks and persistence in the face of some pretty tough sledding along the way.
What comes next will grow out of that passion which he surely comes by honestly.
Maybe it's our version of the American Dream -- albeit a modest one.
Fortunately, I've been able to hold onto personal ownership of the building which provides a foundation upon which to build. How that property is used will be determined over the next few years by David's continuing effort to sustain the business through continued sacrifice and dedication to the preservation of Black culture.
Maybe that's the way it has always been, and the foundation upon which this nation was built.
The Dream that is America dies hard, and the Reids may be living proof of that.