Bobby J Crum

Before he was an ADR3

Bobby Joe was one of five brothers, the second oldest, the most frail, the one with the nicest smile, and the first of the five Crum brothers to leave this Earth.  I don’t how it was that he and I seemed to share a common soul, but as the baby of the family, the youngest boy, I had attached myself to Bobby and saw him as the one person who was beating down the weeds to create a better path for my life.  There was nothing about Bobby that I didn’t love, that I didn’t look up to.  He was cool and I’ve got proof!

Bobby’s lasting comment, the one he insisted they put under his graduation picture in the 1958  Parkin High School annual was, “Daddy-o, I don’t dig yo’ jive!” Yeah that’s right, that sharecropping white boy who chopped and picked cotton while singing songs with choruses like “Wop bop a loo bop a lop bam boom!” used words like ”jive.” To the world around us, from the radio that brought a broader and brighter swath to us and extended our horizons, jive was sling, “cool talk”, beatnik talk, something that was exotic and rebellious, something other than (anything other than!) Dusty, Slim and Speck Rhodes. But I believe it meant even more to Bobby.

Being the son of a sharecropper, working in the cotton fields in the hundred plus heat and near hundred percent humidity, Bobby was the victim of jive.  He had lived with it, been kept poor because of it, had been shackled by it.  Bobby said, “Daddy-o, I don’t dig yo’ jive!” and backed it up by leaving Arkansas to join the Navy.

Whatever path Bobby took or thought he was taking when he left high school, I am sure it was a path he knew would take him away from Arkansas, away from the snakes and mosquitoes, away from the heat and the humidity, away from the cotton fields and the rice fields, away from sharecropping and commodities, away from that particular jive.  Unfortunately for my family, unfortunately for me, the path he took eventually took him away from us.  Forever!

If you are reading this, I want you to know my brother, so there is more to come.