I remember Johnny Hamilton when he was about 48 years old.
He had a smooth chocolate complexion and was always clean shaven.
Johnny Hamilton dressed like a rich preacher or corporate CEO.
He wore fine suits, custom shirts and Stetson shoes.
A mode of conservative dress which belied his daily pre-occupation
Of pimping prostitutes and running numbers.
Johnny was slick personified, he smoked a pipe which he filled
With a special aromatic blend of tobacco which lingered in the air
Long after he had left the area.
He seemed to glide when he walked and in passing his only
Greeting was ”Hey”, no more , no less as he collected his daily numbers tab
And dispensed money to the winners.
His was a cash and carry business and though his formal education was
Limited, he was very conversant in the area of current events.
Johnny’s ladies were just as conservative as he was during the day.
Geneva, Alfreda and Norma were beautiful women and looked as if
They could have been school teachers but at sunset they walked the
Track as the block was then called.
Johnny sat in his green shiny studabaker on the passenger side with the door open to keep a visual on his women, and to insure their safety.
They appeared to be happy with Johnny Hamilton and he was happy
He loved to shoot craps and always had money which he kept wrapped in a large rubber band.
Johnny never encouraged younger men to become pimps but to stay in school because he shared the flaws of his lifestyles and while it was okay for him they
Could he believed do better with their opportunities he could only have dreamed of in his youth.
Johnny Hamilton got caught up in the times during the 70”s.
Narcotics replaced numbers as state lotteries became legal.
<men stopped frequenting the track for women.
And Johnny Hamilton’s reality became what he feared most.
No women, no money, no car and he spent the remainder of his days unable to cope with the new fast money competition.
Short of any skills he became an ex-pimp, ex-numbers runner
Who didn’t take his own advice.
Johnny Hamilton failed himself and his promise because true pimping is never a lifetime option for a Black man.
That’s why we have politics.
Looking into the casket at a now most unrecognizable face
Of the once jovial and big man
I saw instead the almost skeletal remains of a once proud player reduced to
A glaring statistic.
His name was, “Po John”, and looking clean but Po was his hook in his
Po John never dressed like the other pimps on the track in the 50’s.
No matter the day or occasion when his fellow pimps wore suits, ties, and Ben Burke shoes with Stetson hats at Christmas, Easter and Holiweekends.
Po John wore bib overalls , always starched and creased with a white handkerchief crawling from the side pocket.
You could see your reflection in his shined shoes.
He always had about three El Producto cigars in his chest pocket and one either in his hand or in his mouth.
Police didn’t bother “Po John” much he was low key
compared to the other street hawkers.
But he would stand on the side walk in front of Spots Bar with his
Drink in his hand.
Gin and Squirt, his cigar, and watching his big blue Cadillac
And the six beautiful women that comprised his stable.
Men and young boys who couldn’t afford their services would
Parade by just to look at “Po John’s” women.
He loved and was proud of his ladies and they appeared
To be proud to be a part of his life.
“Po John”, always had money in those days.
He had a beautiful boat that he often hitched to the rear of
His Cadillac and often disappeared from the track like an
Invisible man for about a week or so.
When he returned many times two of his women would be missing.
He was proud to tell anyone asking about their whereabouts that
He had pawned them in Las Vegas or the Bahamas.
The missing women would reappear in about another week and all appeared happy and none the worse for wear.
Life for “Po John” was good in those days.
He was limited as far as formal educational exposure was concerned
But he was a master in the streets until the 70’s .
Until the advent of a new white whore. (Crack Cocaine).
As time passed “Po John’s” beauties fell from grace.
He gave in to the new white whore, losing weight, discarding his trademark
El Producto cigars.
The heavily starched bib overalls were reduced to a dirty pair
hanging on a thin skeleton.
There were no savings, no pension plan, no more beautiful women but old dried prune looking ones who shared his fate.
And “Po John,” the former street master was led to an untimely death
By the new white whore. Crack Cocaine.
Pimping is never an option for a Black man
Especially if he can’t avoid the latest and newest white whore.
Who is after the baddest on the block.
Her name is Crack.