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Chapter 87: Our Fine College Graduate

June 2, 1904
7:50 a.m.
Marianna, Florida

When I got off the train from Chipley this morning, the first thing I did was head over to Cephas and Lula’s house, to drop off my satchel, change clothes and then to head to the office.

I put on my best three-piece black suit despite the sultry heat that was already the first of June in West Florida. I was determined to launch myself, on my first day as an official officer of the court looking my best. 

In my room, I dusted my shoes, took my brand-new walking stick (a graduation gift from my sister Katie) and my brand-new black Stetson hat, which I splurged on right before I left Deland.

As I came down the hall, I met Lula coming out of the dining room. She stopped and admired me. “You look so nice today, Emmett,” Lula said. “Good luck on your first day at the law firm.”

“Thank you,” I said.

“Do you have time for a cup of coffee?”

“No, thanks,” I said. “I should be off. I don’t want to be late.”

“Of course,” she said, as she gave me a kiss on the cheek, and I walked out of the house.

I was on the sidewalk when the front door of the house opened, and Lula called out to me from the front porch. “Wait just a minute, Emmett,” she said.

I turned. I was impatient to get going; but I walked back to the front gate; I paused,  swallowing my irritation. 

Lula rushed down the steps with her pocket Kodak. “Let me get a picture of you, Emmett! Our first law school graduate on his first day as a lawyer!”

She took me out in the middle of Jefferson Street. “Lula, this isn’t necessary,” I protested, as she adjusted my jacket, arranged the way I held my walking stick

“Put your hand in your pocket,” she said, as she peered down through the viewfinder of her camera. “It looks dashing that way.”

“Come on, Lula,” I said, tensely. “Ceph is waiting for me.”

“He can wait a few minutes as I take a photo of our fine college graduate,” she said, as she adjusted the focus of the camera. I sighed with resignation, but secretly, I was pleased that she would make a fuss over me. That was Lula’s way; she was the only one who really fussed over me, asked me how I was doing, was truly interested in my well-being. As my mother would have.

“OK Emmett,” Lula said, cheerfully. “Ready? One, two….”

The shutter clicked.

Emmett Wilson, in front of Cephas’ house, about 1905, Marianna, Florida.
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Howard.

She looked up from the camera and smiled at me. “All right, Emmett.” 

I tipped my hat to her, and walked down the dusty street to the office.

Categories: Book Family In Emmett's Words


Communication, Arts, and the Humanities
The University of Maryland Global Campus

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