This Week's Story

Dallas and Matiel Wicks are salt, wherever they go, but they aren't famous.

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

What can I do?

“Mom, for my report I could see history by looking through the eyes of someone’s lifetime.”

“That’s a good idea. If you used the lives of my friends Dallas and Matiel Wicks, you could be researching wars, segregation, and family life.”

“Mom, that sounds good. Tell me about the Wicks.”

“Dallas is no talker, but he’s observant. Listen to what he says. Matiel never calls attention to herself, but she is a valued leader in many organizations. She knows a zillion people.

“Dallas and Matiel grew up in the South in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Being black couldn’t be ignored. It affected their opportunities.  But all their lives they have focused upon: What can I do?  Not…what have I missed?

“They came from big families. They say, ‘My family was strong and we were happy. When I got out of line, my father talked to me. Mom used the switch. Both ways worked, but sometimes I liked the switch better. After it, nothing more was said.’

“Matiel’s father was busy as a Baptist minister and he had a separate fulltime job, but he also played games outdoors with his kids.  He was a gifted man. On his own he learned to draw house plans and build homes. Several brick ones were constructed by him and workers he would hire.

 “When Dallas and Matiel were children, segregation simply was the life they lived. I asked Dallas, ‘Did you have any white friends?’

‘No.  I didn’t communicate with whites.’

“Their education pictures segregation. They sat in schoolhouses with old desks and old books already used in schools for white children. They walked to school because no school buses were available for black children. Both graduated from high school. That accomplishment showed Dallas’ character, because Fayette High School, where he attended, did not have a twelfth grade. He moved eighty miles away to Jackson, Mississippi, staying with an aunt and uncle, so he could graduate in 1950.

“Later when he was in the military, he took a national exam to see what his grade level was. It was seventh grade. The white woman examiner told him, “You’ll never get anywhere without more education. He began taking classes by mail.

 “In the army he became an infantryman and was sent to fight in the Korean War.  He doesn’t like to talk about it.  I know he was a scout getting information about the enemy.  He received shrapnel injuries and was awarded the Purple Heart.

“The Korean War was an unusual and tough war for United States soldiers. They were thrust into a brutal civil war within a foreign culture.

“Integration of the U.S. military also was happening when Dallas was a soldier. Until 1948 black and white soldiers did not fight together. That year President Truman issued an executive order to integrate the United States military. He did that just four months before the presidential election. Many people thought his stand for civil rights would cause him to lose the election, but he won.”

 “I’d like to learn more about the soldiers being integrated and the election!”

“You ask Dallas. I know he felt downsides and upsides.

“He made a career in Army transportation services. He and Matiel were married. She got her B.A. in Elementary Education and worked as a dedicated school secretary. He served in the Vietnam War, Lebanon, France, and Germany. When he retired, he became the Veterans Services’ officer for Jefferson County, Mississippi helping veterans to get needed services. Two months ago at age 82, he retired for the second time. Dallas and Matiel are known as people who help others and have real faith in God.”

This is Barbara Steiner with a hug and a thank you to my friends Dallas and Matiel. Please check out thisweeksstory.com.

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