My Father

Don’t have many pictures of my father, Joe I (stands for no name apparently) Shipp. Can’t find any at all the moment. He was a good man although he struggled with anger when he was young. His mother was apparently incapable of emotion. His father and younger brother died of yellow fever in the 1920s, apparently from a damned up Pumpkin Vine Creek in Paulding County. It was a hard life. He was drafted but was dismissed. He didn’t want to go to war. He rode the trains to California like his heroes. He was an amateur boxer. He first met my mom, Retha, in Hiram, Ga.


My parents married and a few years later had my brother, Joel. They bought some property in Douglas County, south of Paulding County. We lived in a trailer on the property until they had some trees cleared and they were able to build a house.


My mother went to beauty school and was great at it and worked at several salons in Atlanta, on the west side.


In the meantime Joe worked in a company that made/molded toilets. There he made friends with an African-American who told him about how hard it was to be so. My mother understood that too.


My father went to furniture upholstery school and he was great at it too. They were both very talented.


Our parents would always tell us when we took trips that it would have been very different if we’d been a black family.


In the late 50s, my father eventually decided to go to a psychiatrist because he was very depressed and that relationship continued for 30 years including my mom.


Every Saturday my father and I went to the Wondrous Fulton County Carnegie Library while we waited for my mom to finish work and then we would eat dinner at the S & W Cafeteria just 2 blocks from the library.


I love both my parents but since this is my father’s birthday, I’ll focus on him.


My father taught me to love poetry, to learn languages, and to love nature. And that is what I love about my father;)

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