1. Older Use. a pair of suspenders for trousers.


It was Friday and the excitement was palpable.

“Excuse me! Excuse me!”

John pushed past the congestion of coworkers, shoving his paycheck into the pocket of his overalls before buttoning it. He was eager to leave the factory quickly and get ready for the night.

He’d been working at the mill for about a year now and had enough money saved to make his first year at Tuskegee a reality. His parents had the equivalent of a third-grade education, his grandparents never learned to read.

He had hopes for more.

His parents couldn’t afford any schooling, but a year at the mill would help make his dream a reality. People thought he was crazy, but he knew what he wanted–an education, which would allow him to have a life of his own away from Georgia. He’d be able to provide for his parents and a family of his own, one day.

Friends from high school thought he was crazy to want to leave home, leave the steady pay of the mill for the unknown. With every mocking laugh and negative comment, John consoled himself with a singular thought: Just one more month at the mill and my future begins.

For now, he felt a sheer eagerness for the future to be his present.

John rushed home, ready for a rare night out with friends.

He was busy changing into his one pair of good slacks and his pressed dress shirt when he heard his parents downstairs. They seemed to be arguing about something.

John brought out his new pair of galluses–his reward for a year of hard work. He’d put some money aside from what he’d saved up to buy them Uncle Bruh’s store on the corner, purchasing them for $10 last week.

His father knocked on the door just as he sat down to put on the dress shoes he’d shined that morning.


The look on his father’s face made him uneasy.

“John, your mom mentioned you were going out tonight.”

His father was worried. The tension was thick.

“There’s been some problems with the police and a lot of people are angry, John…this afternoon a little girl’s body was found and the still haven’t found the guy who did it, but the guy they suspect matches your description, mine, your uncle’s…you don’t need to go out tonight.”

His father couldn’t even look at him.

“It’s just not safe right now and–”

The sound of breaking glass interrupted his father. Screams filled the house.

They rushed downstairs. Someone had thrown something through their front window and now their rug and voucher were on fire. His mother was trying in vain to save their living room.

His father began barking orders loudly, grabbing his wife and directing John to get his siblings.

Forty-five minutes later their entire house was ablaze with no firetruck in sight.

The family of five stood safely outside with few possessions. And no one was crying more than John, knowing his dream would now be exchanged for a simple desire. His savings would be needed to provide a new home for his family now and he would find himself back at the mill for another year.


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