Roots Revival

For a town of 22 people, the crowd seems unimaginable. Nearly a thousand people are crammed along the shoulders of Rural Route J, awaiting the start of the Dalton Day parade. A woman grabs a mic and throws herself into “The Star Spangled Banner,” trilling out the last line for a good ten or twelve seconds.

Mayor Donny Hughes waves to the crowd from the open windows of a black luxury sedan. Firemen blast the siren on their massive truck. Kids scurry behind a pack of Cub Scouts lobbing bubble gum in the air. Shriners scoot along in puny fire engines, and members of Allah Temple No. 6 ride black mountain bikes. A daredevil tilts his dune buggy and swerves around on two wheels.

Then come the show cars. A hulking SUV loaded with a funky hydraulic shock system appears to dance down the road. It’s followed by a gold-trimmed Acura Legend cut to ride just a few inches above the ground, then an Olds 442 convertible with a flawless burgundy paint job and gold-spoked rims. There are a red Olds 88 with a gold steering wheel and two white convertible Cadillacs with gold insignia plates, gold hood ornaments, gold mirrors and gold door handles. Each car has its stereo cranked. Throbbing bass riffs vibrate the teeth of onlookers.

This is the twelfth annual Dalton Day parade. “We had a two-minute parade that first year,” remembers Charlene Jackson of Kansas City, who helped start the event in 1989. “There were just some kids on cars. One guy had his truck decorated. We had maybe ten people standing on the side of the road. Most of them were laughing.”

The next year, those ten people came back to find themselves standing among a bigger crowd. “Every year, somebody brought somebody else, and it just blossomed,” Jackson says.

Dalton is stranded in the soggy floodplain of the Missouri River. To find it, drive east on Independence Avenue for about two hours and turn right a mile or so past the “World’s Biggest Pecan,” a concrete nut the size of an Airstream trailer. On the Saturday before Memorial Day, you’ll find people from all over — Moberly, Marshall, Boonville, St. Louis, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, California, Wyoming. They’re all enjoying the sun, discovering new cousins and swaying to the O’Jays, the Temptations and Bloodstone.

And, much to Jackson’s delight, they’re knocking back $1 beers and shelling out six bucks each for plates of deep-fried catfish, baked beans and potato salad. That’s the main reason for Dalton Day: to raise money. Jackson and her uncle, Maurice Hughes, came up with the idea to try to save the cemetery where their ancestors are buried.

About eighteen people join hands in the add-on room of a ranch house north of Swope Park. Wilene Lewis closes her eyes and belts out a long prayer that crescendos to an arm-shaking conclusion: “There are so many people who have come down on us, dear Lord! But we have made it this far, dear Lord! We have come this far by faith, and we ask that you bless us, Jesus! Amen.”

The gathered take their places around the room on couches and recliners and extra chairs pulled in from the dining room and the patio. Maurice Hughes, who wears a trim white mustache, calls to order this year’s second meeting of the Dalton Day staff.

It’s a Saturday night in mid-March, and some of the attendees appear to be afflicted with spring fever. At times, the discussions grow lively, with a few of the older ladies shouting out-of-turn, though the agenda is decidedly mundane. (One of the items is whether to offer fruit drinks for the kids.) Lewis, who doesn’t at all look her 67 years, stands up and argues passionately for Busch Light, not Bud Light. Hughes raises his hand and tries to calm her.

Small eruptions aside, Hughes keeps the meeting on track with the help of his niece, Charlene Jackson. She sits at a card table in the corner, reading aloud occasionally from the group’s financial reports. Her glasses ride low on her nose, and she tilts her head so she doesn’t have to look through them when she addresses her colleagues across the room. One by one, the items on the agenda fall, and suddenly a line forms in the kitchen.

They fill plastic plates and bowls with chili and hot dogs and snap open the tabs on beer cans. Crown Royal splashes over ice cubes. The air fills with hollers and hoots as people bound by blood and geography fold themselves into a cozy corner of Kansas City. “We’re a close-knit people, a close family,” Jackson says of her fellow Daltonites. “And I know that comes from being from Dalton. Because in the city, I have so many people I know who have no connection to their families.”

Blacks first set foot in Missouri early in the eighteenth century as the property of Frenchmen who were following the Mississippi and Missouri rivers into the wilds of the New World. More than likely, Jackson, Hughes and their fellow Daltonites are descendants of slaves who toiled on homesteads scattered across the Missouri River Valley, known then as Little Dixie. Missouri’s relatively short growing season yielded an abundance of hemp, tobacco, wheat, oats, hay and corn. Chariton County, where Dalton rests, claimed the second-highest population of slaves in antebellum Missouri.

When freedom came in 1865, most of the state’s slaves remained close to their masters’ land. Some stayed on as sharecroppers, sleeping in the same drafty shacks they’d lived in as slaves. Others formed communities and founded “free towns” in unwanted bottom land or migrated to nearby villages such as Dalton, where there was at least some work to be had.

Hughes and his brothers trace their ancestors to dates carved into the surviving tombstones in the old black cemetery or written on the property deeds that have been handed down through the generations. If they bought land, most black Daltonites snatched up small plots in a meadow just over a hill from Main Street on the town’s north side, a bucolic niche of the world known as Dalton Hollow, or, more often, “the Holla.” Some even scraped together down payments for a few acres of farmland.

For blacks in Little Dixie, most career options required a sturdy back. But in 1907, a college-educated African-American named Nathaniel C. Bruce arrived in Dalton with the vision of creating “the Tuskegee of the Midwest.” Bruce had studied under Booker T. Washington, the founder of that famous Alabama institution, who had written and lectured that blacks could achieve social and political power only through trained use of their muscles. “Our greatest danger,” Washington once declared, “is that in the great leap from slavery to freedom we may … fail to keep in mind that we shall prosper in proportion as we learn to dignify and glorify common labor and put brains and skills into the common occupations of life.”

Bruce acquired a barn and 8 acres next to Dalton and called his hay-loft classroom the Bartlett Agricultural and Industrial School. The first class — three boys and two girls — spent half its day hearing lectures or taking tests in the barn and the other half tilling the field.

Within five years, the school had spread to two buildings and across 72 acres. Bruce and his students began claiming ribbons at statewide harvest-festival contests, and soon Bruce was crowing, “Place Missouri black boys on Missouri black land, behind the world-famed Missouri mule, and nothing can beat the combination for raising corn or other crops.”

Whites even offered praise, albeit backhandedly. One newspaper hailed the school for “doing good work among the Negroes by training them [in] habits of industry.” But, the paper added, “so few of them who go to school ever amount to anything.”

Buoyant with his school’s successes, Bruce ascended the ranks of Missouri’s education system, one of the only white-collar career tracks open to blacks in the early twentieth century. In 1924, he earned the title of State Inspector for Negro Schools. This job sent him to schoolhouses across the state, where he espoused his own peculiar interpretation of Washington’s philosophy. He urged blacks to take pride in “cooking, washing, ironing, scrubbing or driving nails” as opposed to “high book learning.”

By then, blacks held a small amount of power in state politics. It was concentrated in Kansas City and St. Louis, which had bustling black communities. In an area like 18th and Vine, with its storefronts bearing signs for doctors and lawyers and insurance salesmen, Bruce’s call for enlightened servitude fell flat. His edicts left those communities “dazed and unbelieving and some of us angry and crying for blood,” columnist Roy Wilkins wrote in a 1926 editorial in the Kansas City Call. “We can’t get along without the higher book learning and the man who says so is either playing to a ‘cracker’ ‘hill billy’ gallery for a mess of pottage or he is woefully ignorant.”

Within a year, Bruce was gone. But his school continued to prosper. The main classroom building stood two stories high, a sturdy cube of red brick and wide windows. Clustered around it were the principal’s cottage, a one-room cafeteria and separate quarters for the married teachers and the single faculty members. Sprinkled in between were barns, sheds and chicken coops.

The school was separate and not quite equal. “There was no gym there,” says Eliot Battle, the school’s last principal. “The young men actually won the state championship one year while I was there, but they played their games out in the courtyard, out near the principal’s cottage.” State law prohibited blacks and whites from sharing classes. Statutes also forbade the establishment of black high schools in communities where there were few blacks, so the Dalton school was the only option for miles. It drew black students from a five-county area. Even today, Daltonites like to say, “They bused for segregation, and they bused again for desegregation.”

By 1954, the year the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka ended state-sponsored segregation, Dalton had begun to lose population. The Depression years had hit Chariton County hard, and many of Dalton’s blacks had left for Kansas City. But the school had kept a clutch of people in town, and when it closed one year after the court’s momentous decision, only a few grandparents and black landowners stayed.

The school’s closing was bittersweet, says Battle. “There were students, of course, who were sorry to see it come to an end. And there were people who lived in that area for all of their years who looked at Dalton School as being important to their community. But I was very pleased to see the school closed and see the students integrated into their own districts as they should have been earlier.”

Maurice Hughes attended Dalton School in the early 1950s. Charlene Jackson was too young. The school had already closed and her family had moved to Kansas City, Kansas, before she reached high school. But like most of her festival-planning colleagues, Jackson spent her summers in Dalton.

“We had a lot of relatives there, a lot of cousins, and we would get together and just walk the roads,” she says. They would fish in the Missouri River or swim in Cut-Off Lake a few miles to the south. On hot days, the kids would take turns on the hand-crank ice cream maker.

When she got older, she’d gather with the other teens at the clubhouse on the east end of the Holla and “dance, drink sodas or whatever,” she says. “The best soda you ever had was Nehi orange and grape.”

Some of the older kids, such as Maurice, had worked the fields to earn money for jalopies or nice clothes. Hughes also got jobs with the railroad, hopping a train and riding to Iowa or Illinois. “We’d use picks and shovels to move the rocks,” he says. “It was fun for a young kid.” At night he slept in boxcars made up like dorms.

After church on Sundays, everyone in town would pack lunches and travel to Keytesville or Brunswick or Boonsville to watch the Dalton baseball team play the best its neighboring communities had to offer. “All the towns had their own little black team,” Jackson says.

On cool nights, they would build a bonfire and sing. “The guys always thought they could sing that harmony,” she says.

Linda Crain was also raised in KCK and now works as a psychologist in Laguna Beach, California. Her summers in Dalton provided “an opportunity to get to know [her] cousins and grandparents and to really get in touch with [her] family values,” she says. “They told us we could be and do anything we wanted to be, you know, back in the ’60s when that wasn’t always what we were hearing.”

Though Jackson, Hughes and the others kept in touch with Dalton over the years, as they grew older their big-city careers commanded their attention.

Hughes worked for TWA. Jackson gave 31 years to the downtown offices of the federal Social Security Administration. Eventually, though, both found themselves drawn back to their hometown. In the late 1980s, they inherited neighboring lots in the meadow north of downtown Dalton. Jackson and Hughes returned to find most of the homes in the old neighborhood sagging and bowed, overgrown with ill-planted trees and eye-high weeds. So they cleared the place out. They razed the old ruins, uprooted rogue trees and drove tractor mowers across the fields of tall grass.

Then they dipped into their savings accounts and bought mobile homes — which became vacation getaways — so they could spend nearly every weekend at what was becoming the Holla.

“When I was working, I would run from work to my car just to get here as fast as I could,” says Jackson. “I’d leave early. My bags would be packed and in the trunk before I left for work on Friday. Then I’d just sit on the porch and look out.”

But as they fixed up their properties, they gazed across the hill at the cemetery where their ancestors were buried. Weeds shrouded the eroding tombstones, many of which had toppled over. Some of the older markers — laid out during Reconstruction — had long since weathered away to nothing. When Jackson and her friends and family looked at the forsaken mess, they saw their own demise.

“My family is up there,” Jackson says. “All these people here have people buried up there. And you can’t turn your back on them. That’s part of what we are.”

The cemetery had no trust fund to pay for maintenance. So Hughes floated the idea of throwing a party, cooking some chicken and fish to try to raise enough cash to pay someone to mow the lot more than two times a year. Charlene one-upped him. “Let’s have a parade,” she said.

That was fifteen years ago. Now the old graveyard is as well-trimmed as a millionaire’s lawn. Old, wide trees spread shade across the grounds. On the eve of Dalton Day, Hughes and two other elder Daltonites — Charles Harris and Bobby Davis — climb the steep sides of the rise and wander amid the tombstones that jut at odd angles from the freshly mown grass.

Near the road lies a wide, lumpy swath of ground with no markers. “You see all those low spots?” Hughes says. “There’s no tombstones. No names. We don’t know who it is.”

“If you find any black cemetery anywhere, it’s not kept up,” Davis says. “Even the black cemetery in Kansas City. It’s not kept up.”

Last year’s Dalton Day raised more than $4,000 to give this cemetery the care others lack. Much of that went to Harris, who mowed the grass every two weeks for $120 a pop. This year’s Dalton Day raised enough to hire a crew to level ground and straighten the old monuments. Jackson and Hughes also want to build a retaining wall on the western edge of the cemetery, where some of the oldest tombstones appear poised to cascade down the eroding embankment.

Hughes walks toward the decaying ledge. “You see these tombstones?” he says. “These were my mother’s people. They go back all the way to the eighteens.”

He turns to face a miniature obelisk that’s lying on its side in the grass. “See, over here, this is my grandmother,” Hughes says, kneeling beside the fallen marker.

He rubs some crusty green moss off the stone, tries to decipher the name and date. “I can’t make it out,” he says. “My eyes are too bad.”

The three men wander back through the graveyard, pausing at older eroding stones and newer ones of polished granite. They stop at a fence made of taut, thick wire, held up by steel posts. On the other side are rows of flawless tombstones, some as big as kitchen appliances. Well-trimmed car paths wind through the clusters of graves.

“That’s the white cemetery,” Hughes says.

The fence has been there for as long as anyone can remember, he says, built long before he was born. But it doesn’t appear to be a century old. It’s free from rust. It stands straighter than many of the stone markers on the black side.

Though the fence separates the races, Harris says he helped rebuild it ten years ago — because it was a job. “Hell, yeah,” he says. “I made me that money.” All three men grew up during the days when Jim Crow ruled Missouri. Having lived through those years, they share a certain acceptance of the realities of racism. Nonetheless, the fence marks the limits of their tolerance.

“I don’t mind being over here,” Davis says, gesturing toward where he will one day be laid to rest among the bones of his ancestors. “But just take the damn fence down.”

“See that grave over there?” Hughes says. He points to a chunky granite slab on the white side. “That says ‘Grotjan.'” He turns and addresses the tombstone as if the body buried beneath it could still hear him. “I used to play with your kids. What I’m saying is, I knew you all your life. And now you’re on that side. And we’ve got a fence between us.”

Don Grotjan shrugs. “Just, it’s been there forever,” he says, explaining the fence.

Grotjan serves on the board of directors for Dalton’s white cemetery. He speculates that one reason for the fence might have been to keep livestock out, but that’s not really a problem anymore. “Now there’s no reason for it to be there. And one of these days, it’ll come out.”

Grotjan has nothing against the blacks from his hometown. He supports their efforts to fix up the old graveyard. That’s why he’s attending the Dalton Day festivities, spending his money on the good food.

Grotjan spends most of his time near the Dalton Heritage Association booth. The association’s members are selling plates and postcards with pictures of Dalton from the good old days, along with big pies covered with golden crust and little pies with fat strawberries on top.

All of the people running the booth are white, though the association’s membership is 60 percent black. Today the black members are all busy running the Dalton Day events, says Duane Leimkuehler, the Dalton Heritage Association’s president.

Leimkuehler was born and raised in Dalton. Today he lives a few miles up Highway 24 in the no-stoplight town of Brunswick, but he maintains a farm on Dalton’s outskirts. When he was growing up in the 1950s, Dalton was home to perhaps 100 people. There was one little grocery store, which Ms. Myer kept open until the late 1970s or early ’80s. “She just locked the door and left everything,” Leimkuehler says. There was a hardware store across the railroad tracks — a big one, known for miles around because of its low prices. And there was the grain elevator. That and the post office are the only establishments still in business.

In the mid-’90s, Leimkuehler joined a group of older women to form the Dalton Heritage Association, with the goal of preserving history and sprucing up the old hometown. The group raised $5,000 to restore 100 yards of sidewalk. It runs from the post office halfway across the mowed lot where they set up the tents, tables and portable cookers for Dalton Day. The old walkway had collapsed onto Road J, but now it actually looks touristy, with a criss-crossing pattern of bright red bricks and patches of yellow irises.

There’s still a lot of work to be done. Today, four antique buildings line the main drag: the old bank building, which houses the post office; the old jailhouse, covered with tin and no bigger than a garden shed; “the white building,” a cinder-block structure that was, at various times, a grocery store, a “colored man’s funeral home,” a liquor store, a bar and a pool hall; and “the Leaning Tower of Dalton,” which began as a drugstore and ended as a black Masonic lodge. Its two-story pillared facade looks like a cross between an Old West saloon and a New Orleans townhouse. Today it leans toward the hillside at a 75-degree angle.

Leimkuehler wrote a book about Dalton’s history. The idea came to him while he was drinking coffee one day at the grain elevator, listening to the old guys yammer about their glory days. (“Every town has a place where you hang out on a rainy day,” he says. “And that place around here is the elevator.”) The book, a thin volume in a green hardback binding, took more than a year to write, and it’s now in its second printing of 350 copies. It sells for $25.

Almost all of the people in it are white.

“That book, they done fucked it up,” says Wilene Lewis, who often boasts that she and her sister Arlene were the only black twins born in Missouri in 1934. “My family ain’t even in there.”

Leimkuehler is well aware of the book’s blind spots. “I hate it, but there’s nothing I can do about it,” he says. “See, the thing is, there were people around here who didn’t turn in their family histories. And, you know, I wasn’t going to write people’s family histories for them.”

People knew the book was being written. “We had ads in the papers, fliers; we told people to turn in their histories,” Leimkuehler says. But, for whatever reason, they didn’t respond. (Vesta Poindexter, who was charged with rounding up the black histories, says she has “no idea” why people didn’t respond. “I wrote several people, and a lot of people I didn’t get in touch with. See, there isn’t too many people living here now,” Poindexter says.)

Despite the lack of black faces in the book, the fence running down the middle of the cemetery and all the old tales of segregation, Leimkuehler says he’s never felt prejudice in Dalton. “I’ve never known anything but good relationships [with blacks],” he says. “If you talk to them, they may have a different story. You hear the old stories where if a white was walking down the sidewalk, a black would have to move off to the side. But I’ve never seen that myself.”

Leimkuehler says he tended cattle for one of the Hughes brothers who had fallen ill. A group of blacks once came by Leimkuehler’s farm asking for help burying a relative in the black cemetery, and he readily offered a hand. “When I lost my home to fire,” he says, “a lot of these black people called me up and said, ‘We feel bad about what’s happened to you.’

“But then,” he adds, “they like their privacy, and we like our privacy.”

Yet whites have been among the most active proponents for saving the old Dalton School — the town’s undisputed historical treasure.

“In terms of black historical sites in the state of Missouri, it’s probably a most important one, if not the most important one,” says Larry Pollard, who is president of the Chariton County Heritage Tourism Council (and who is white).

These days, the old school doesn’t look important. All the glass has been broken out. One opening is partially covered by a splintering sheet of plywood with a rusty basketball rim attached to it. The grounds bristle with debris: tractor parts; broom handles, a bent wheelchair, a perforated water heater, an antique bathtub. The sign on the door reads KEEP OUT.

Roland Hughes — Maurice’s brother — owns the building. He bought it in 1971 for $20,000. By then all of the structures except the main school building had fallen in on themselves.

“When Roland bought it,” Davis says, “I said, ‘Why don’t we fix it up? Put a few windows in it.’ He said, ‘No.’ Before I knew it, he had his tobacco in it. He was using it as a barn.”

Then, in 1991, historians Patrick J. Huber and Gary R. Kremer (both of whom are white) wrote an article about the school for the Missouri Historical Review, sparking a statewide interest in restoring the school as a national historic site.

Pollard has worked with the members of the Dalton Heritage Association to procure the landmark designation. State officials are polishing the application, and they plan to submit it within the next several weeks. They fully expect to earn approval. “I don’t think there’s going to be any problem with this one,” says Steve Mitchell, assistant director of historic preservation at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

The designation would make the site eligible for a state grant, which typically offers $20,000 to $50,000 for building preservation. But Pollard and others in Chariton County would like to pull together $1 million to rebuild the entire campus. The building itself could house a history museum — which, Pollard says, “of course would be about the black end of things around here.”

There’s plenty of history in Chariton County to merit a museum. In addition to the storied Dalton school, the county was home to the Bruce brothers (no relation to the school’s founder). Both were born slaves in Virginia. Their family was sold to Jack Perkinson, who lived in Keytesville, about ten miles east of Dalton. Henry Clay Bruce, the older of the two brothers, wrote the book The New Man: Twenty-nine Years a Slave, Twenty-nine Years a Free Man.

His younger brother, Blanche Kelso (or B.K. Bruce), escaped at the beginning of the Civil War, earned an education at Oberlin College in Ohio and then moved to Mississippi, where, in 1874, he became the first African-American to be elected to the U.S. Senate. In 1881, he was appointed registrar of the treasury, where he remained until 1885, when segregationist Democrats regained power in Washington. He filled the post again in 1897 until his death in 1898.

Everyone agrees a museum would be fantastic. But Roland Hughes and his wife, Rosy, live in the modern ranch house that sits beside the old schoolhouse. They suffer from diabetes and aren’t eager to give up their home. Still, the Hugheses are open to the idea of preserving the site. “We’ve had a lot of people come by taking tours,” Rosy says. She says they’d be willing to lease the land to the state and later sell it.

If all goes the way people in Dalton and Chariton County hope, the town of 22 could become a major tourist attraction.

The hamlet is already drawing newcomers who don’t have family ties to Dalton. Chris Densin, for example, works as an inspector for the Kansas City Housing Authority. A few years ago, he began looking for land in the country he could purchase to give his kids a periodic escape from the city. He was initially hoping to find something around Odessa, but when he told his friend Davis, Davis raised his eyes and said, “Odessa? You need to ride with me.”

So they drove down Highway 24 and took a spin around the Holla.

“I fell in love with this place,” Densin says. He bought a lot, cleaned it up and put a trailer on it. Now he’s up here about every other weekend.

Neighbors have mowed his grass, helped push him out of ditches and razzed him for tipping over his dinky johnboat in Cut-Off Lake. On any given night, he can eat from one end of the Holla to another. “I just go from house to house and grub the whole way,” he says.

But it’s the soul of the place that’s captured him. “The history of this place turned me on and turned me out,” he says. “In high school, I didn’t learn a lot of black history.” He turns to his new, older neighbors and says, “When I hear you guys talk, those stories fill me.”

The Dalton Day festivities are winding down. As sunlight slants across the Dalton Day tents, some of the revelers pack up their minivans and SUVs and begin navigating the two-lane byways back home. But there’s still a good crowd mingling in the lot between the post office and the little white building. Soul music blares from the Peavy PA system.

“These people will be partying all into the night,” says Donald Hughes. “They’ll keep me up. Man, these city people make a lot of noise. I’ve lived in the city. Kansas City. Back in ’46, ’47. They didn’t make all this darn noise back then.”

Donny Hughes is hunkered on a bench eating catfish with his fingers. He lives in the white house on the hill overlooking the festival grounds. Sterling Price, Civil War general and one-time governor of Missouri, gave the home to one of his soldiers, he says. He moved into the house in the early ’90s, after he retired from his career in the maintenance department of the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Donny Hughes is mayor pro tem of Dalton (“I’m just takin’ care of business,” he says), having replaced his brother Marvin, who led the town for more than a dozen years. The town’s budget is “not much,” Hughes says — “about $3,000.” As he sits sucking meat off of fish ribs, several people declare that he should run for governor. “Shoot,” he says. “Governor of what? Governor of my hog pen?”

True to Hughes’ fears, the throng lingers into the night, cranking stereos and laughing loudly. The next day, though, the old folks are content to kick back on their screened-in patios with glasses of sun tea and cans of beer. Some of the men tinker with their trucks or rider lawn mowers, and a handful help a neighbor set up the blue canopy he bought on the way out of the city. Kids roam the valley in packs, circling the muddy dirt roads on their bicycles and bulky four-wheelers.

Dalton Day weekend — Memorial Day weekend for non-Daltonites — always draws the biggest crowd to the Holla. A lot of people also show up around the Fourth of July and Labor Day. But any given weekend, kids are bound to find a cousin or two to romp around with.

“I love it here,” says “Little” James Jackson, Charlene’s eighteen-year-old cousin. “The food. The people. It’s very exciting down here.”

Tonight he plans to check out a dance at “the lounge,” an old roadhouse Daltonites occasionally unlock for parties. “Won’t be no fightin’ there,” his elder cousin, Bobby Davis, says.

“No, none of that,” Little James concurs. “Just nothin’ but partyin’ and drinkin’ and freakin’.”

“There’ll be lots of girls there.”

“Yeah,” Little James says, grinning under his cock-eyed Royals cap. “Girls from everywhere.”

And not all will be cousins.

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