With $750,000 tucked away in their bank accounts, you might think half-brothers Henry McCollum and Leon Brown will be living it up on Easy Street for the remainder of their lives.
Each is to receive $750,000 from the state, after their conviction of the 1983 murder of an 11-year-old Robeson County girl was recently overturned. Gov. Pat McCrory also granted them pardons of innocence in June.
The two are being woefully shortchanged.
Think about it. How much is a day of freedom worth? You don’t know, do you? Nor do I, because we tend to take freedom for granted until it is snatched away and a prison cell door slams behind us.
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To have that freedom terminated for something of which you’re innocent has to be a devastating experience.
I remember the last time my beloved mother wore me out with a peach tree switch. I was around 15 years old.
A vindictive buddy who lived nearby told my mother that I had “used the Lord’s name in vain,” a cardinal sin in my mother’s mind.
The pain inflicted by the switch was nothing compared to the emotional hurt I felt from her believing my buddy, who was frequently guilty of abusing the truth, rather than believing her own son.
Afterward, I sat my mother down and tried to convey to her my feelings of betrayal and disappointment. She never again raised a switch against me.
Yet that minuscule miscarriage of justice has been embedded in my mind for all these years.
So try to imagine waking behind bars every morning for 30 years with seething emotional pain, anger and frustration gnawing at your very soul because “justice” took a holiday and locked you away for a crime you didn’t commit.
May life deal gently with these men for the remainder of their days.
N.C. vs NYC
The recent column comparing New York City with Eastern North Carolina elicited several responses from readers, primarily transports from the Big Apple.
Jon Larson of Chocowinity, population approximately 1,000, writes, “I will always have an abiding love for NYC and for the Mid-Hudson Valley where we raised our children, but I also will have a permanent memory of the winters and the time and distance to features of that region.
“North Carolina is especially blessed geologically, six hours between the highest mountains east of the Mississippi River and some of the finest beaches in this country. It has a generally mild climate, with air-conditioning as needed, and three seasons that are really nice.
“North Carolina also has a lot of really wonderful people of all stripes who are a joy to live amongst. So, I’m not leaving Chocowinity and Emerald Isle any time soon. This transplant took.”
A ticket to Mars?
The headlines predict that within 25 years, folks will be routinely taking trips to Mars.
From what I’ve heard about Mars, I’d much rather pay a visit to the North Carolina and Virginia hill country.
It’s autumn, and time to treat yourself to a trip up Highway 52 west of Winston-Salem to the apple orchards in and around Cana. The trees are hanging heavy with Winesaps, Golden Delicious, Galas, etc.
Visit with the apple growers, a special breed, who, if they learn you’re from Raleigh, may have a few taciturn remarks to make about what’s going on in the halls of government here.
One old timer with a twinkle in his eye may tease, “Since you’re from Raleigh, I’ll have to charge you $4 more a bushel,” and then lay two or three additional apples atop your purchase.
Stock your car trunk with the tasty fruit and, if you like, stop in Mount Airy on your way home and re-live Mayberry, perhaps eating at The Diner or Snappy Lunch, getting a haircut at Floyd’s Barber Shop or even taking a ride in Sheriff Taylor’s squad car.
As I’ve said previously, I enjoy interacting with readers, and I regard them as extended family members. Some of their comments are indeed pearls of wit, if not wisdom.
Ronald Ragland, longtime professional Raleigh artist, recently wrote, “Someone said you looked old in your new column photo. You look the same as you did in the 1950s when I would see you (drinking coffee) at the Professional Pharmacy downtown. You looked old then.”
Ronald, who this year turned 80, added, “I never took anything but an aspirin until I turned 78. Since then, I’ve had everything but a hysterectomy!”
While researching Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S., I came across this timely quote by Archbishop Fulton Sheen:
“Listening to nuns’ confessions is like being stoned to death with popcorn.”