Emanations: Third Eye: Now at Amazon
Carter Kaplan has just announced that Emanations: Third Eye is now published and available for purchase at Amazon Books. Among its many literary offerings is Le Roy "Tuck" Tucker's essay "A Different Drummer," a tribute to a 26-year-old African American jazz drummer named Eldeen McIntosh, whom Tuck met in 1952 when both were drafted into the Marines and went through boot camp together. Like all of Tuck's writing, the essay is beautifully written, greatly amusing, and deeply moving. Here's the beginning, drawn from one of the final manuscripts Tuck sent me (so the published version might differ somewhat):
One day in the spring of 1952 at the very height of the hostilities in Korea, I received a postcard which informed me that my friends and neighbors back in Arkansas had selected me to represent them in the armed forces. I was twenty-one years old, happily married for going on three years, solidly employed at General Motors Truck and Coach in Pontiac, Michigan. Pat and I had a nice apartment, our own furniture, a 1947 Buick and a small but growing bank account. After a few weeks, having disposed of our furniture and informing the personnel office that I would be otherwise occupied for a while, we were back in Arkansas passing time and dreading the fateful day. On May 28 I was transported to Little Rock by bus where I met with a Marine recruiter, a sergeant and clearly a nice guy, who said, "Well, you're going into the military, Tuck." I liked for people to call me Tuck. Nobody who is named Le Roy wants to be called that. That's why I took him to be a good guy. "What part of the military suits you best?" he asked.A few paragraphs later, Tuck introduces us to Mr. McIntosh, but I'll leave that and the thirty-three remaining pages of the essay for you to discover on your own by purchasing the anthology.
"I want to go into the army and after boot camp I plan on going into the paratroopers," I replied, just as quickly and straightforwardly as it can be done. I was being drafted and so that meant the army, didn't it? About then I started getting an uneasy feeling about the guy, like he wasn't interested in me the way it seemed at first, like he had already finished deciding about me and was finished with it.
"The Air Bourne, well I will be damned. Why would you want to do that?" he asked.
"I don't want to do that. What I want to do is to go home. But I have to do this whether I want to or not, so I aim to get my feet wet," I replied.
I could tell that he liked that. He took that official-looking paper that was there on his desk, and he made a real small notation like a little squiggle on the upper right-hand corner of it, and then he said "Tuck you are on your own for now. Could you meet me right here at eight a.m. tomorrow morning?"
That had a bad sound to it. I was pretty sure I had made a mistake. But I was after all a civilian, and how could he deny a man the right to jump out of airplanes in the service of his country if that was what he wanted to do. Just being a Marine recruiter shouldn't give him any right to stop a feller from being a paratrooper if he wanted to bad enough and if he was willing to endure all that hard work and to take all that risk.
Him being a Marine sergeant sort of put me on edge alright, even if he was a nice, friendly one. And now there I was, all full of doubt and worry even though nothing had happened so far, nothing at all. I had clung to a bit of hope that maybe I could convince that nice sergeant otherwise, in case he wanted to send me off to the Marines, but in fact he didn't look much like my idea of persuadable, and I couldn't take my mind away from that little squiggle that he made on that paper. I was thinking that he didn't actually write anything. It was a little signal to his self and I could tell by the way that Marine sergeant acted that he wasn't interested in showing it to me. Sixty years have passed and even now that sergeant making that little sign to himself is as clear as day to me. I never got to actually see it and read it, not that I know of anyway, but I can tell you exactly what it meant. It said that I was going into the Marine Corps and that after today I would be all done making my own decisions for a while. The next morning that nice Marine sergeant said "Well Tuck, we have decided to put you in the Marine Corps. Now what do you plan to do in there?"
My answer went about like this. "I have already learned that I am not in charge of anything. I plan to do exactly what the Marine Corps tells me to do." That was the perfect answer for the moment, the only correct one, I think . . .
Among other writings by various authors, the anthology also contains several of my poems . . .