Producing a characteristic story on Joe and Artwork Allen a few weeks in the past to assist usher in February as Black Historical past Month was an awesome alternative to immerse myself into some comparatively current Schenectady historical past. It additionally gave me an opportunity to revisit the lives and legacies of James Stamper and Ralph Boyd.
I by no means met the Allen brothers, however I did have fantastic cellphone conversations with a sister, Earlene Tanner, a son/nephew, Artwork Allen Jr., and a daughter/niece, Lakeia Allen Bowman. Assembly and chatting with attention-grabbing individuals with a narrative to inform is likely one of the fantastic features of being a journalist. And, as for Stamper and Boyd, I obtained far more than simply an interesting cellphone name. In 2005 I sat down with Stamper at his house on Yates Avenue in downtown Schenectady for an hour-long chat, and later that yr Boyd invited me into his Woodlawn house for an interview that went almost two hours. To say I discovered their firm refreshing and fulfilling could be an understatement.
I keep in mind strolling out of every house after our speak and considering to myself, “wow, that was particular.” I believe you’ll be able to inform by studying the opening paragraph of every story I wrote about them how a lot I preferred them.
Right here’s my lead on Stamper from January of 2005:
“Few individuals, if any, have amassed the quantity of excellent will James Stamper has in his 92 years on this planet.
The awards he used to win for civic and humanitarian service are actually being named after him. A local of Atlanta, Stamper got here to Schenectady in 1930 on the age of 17, and has been busy ever since making buddies, caring for household, and serving to others, lots of them strangers, higher their lot in life.”
And right here’s my first graph on Boyd from September of 2005:
“On Palm Sunday 1945 in northern Italy, a squadron of Tuskegee fliers bombed a mountaintop loaded with German troopers, serving to a black U.S. infantryman by the identify of Ralph F. Boyd out of a reasonably robust spot. Ever since, Boyd has been returning the favor to anybody in want of a serving to hand.”
Stamper was the primary black foreman within the historical past of the Normal Electrical. An Atlanta native, he and his 9 siblings jumped in a station wagon with their mother and drove to Schenectady in 1930 when Stamper was simply 17.
Whereas Stamper remained state-side throughout World Battle II working as a pilot mechanic within the air power, Boyd, a local of Norfolk, Virginia, joined the Military and noticed loads of motion first-hand in Europe. He got here to the Capital Area in the course of the summer season of 1947 to work at a Saratoga Springs resort. After assembly Stamper and a few others, he was satisfied to maneuver to Schenectady completely the place he obtained a job at GE.
We might be grateful that each males lived lengthy lives, Stamper passing away again in 2007 on the age of 93, and Boyd in 2018 at 99. And we’re additionally grateful for the sort of life they lived. They actually did make life higher for a lot of of Schenectady’s residents, black and white.
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