|Raymond & Jeanette Cully
Photo from Gail Cully Middleton Collection
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My mother used to tell me stories about her Uncle’s and Aunts (The Cully’s). She always talked about Uncle Raymond, as she would say Ray was her favorite Uncle. I am unsure if I met him or not as we lived in California and Ray and his family lived on the East Coast. My mother was always positive about Uncle Ray. She shared with me that he was a drummer, and often played alongside his other siblings growing up, as they were all very musically talented. As adults, he often play with his brother Wendell Culley.
I had the opportunity to meet Uncle Ray & Aunt Jeanette’s daughters in New York, (Gail & Karen) and still need to meet their son Raymond, but I know the opportunity will arise. My goal in my genealogy was to find all the descendants of the ten surviving Great Aunts and Uncle’s and meet them and reuniting our families which have not been together in over 50 to 60 years, even though many of us are not even that age. I have had much success in locating my cousins, and look forward to meeting them all. I just wish my mother had lived long enough to meet them also.
The story below is what was told to my mother by Ray. My Uncle Ray and Aunt Jeanette married and remained married until Raymond’s death in the 70’s. He definitely loved Jeanette and they have three adult children to show for it.
The doorbell rang. I answered the door. There stood a small Negro man and a white woman. The Negro man looked as though he might be Cuban. He wore a black coat and grey hat. The white woman had on a very cheap, fluffy, white fur coat. Her much-bleached reddish hair was in a screwy frizz, hanging down from a medium sized hat and touching her shoulders. Her eyes were very strange. They were very heavily made up. The woman grinned. The man sat down the two suitcases he was holding.
“Are you Betty?”, he asked.
“Yes, I am.”
“well,” he smiled, “I’m your Uncle Raymond, and this is your Aunt Joan!”
Uncle Raymond explained his marriage thusly: He was “gigging” in Albany, (which he described as being a worse place racially than Atlanta, Georgia.) Jenny (Aunt Joan) was a waitress in the night club where he played. He and she “got something going”, and she claimed she was madly in love, although for him it was just another temporary romance in the life of a busy traveling musician.
Since he had not car, he and Jenny used to do a lot of walking around Albany. Sometimes they would “take a walk.” Other times they would be coming from or going to some definite place. Jenny would hold his arm, cast affectionate glances his way and give him occasional little love pats and pinches. This bothered the townspeople, who complained to the police.
Uncle Raymond was called down to the police station and told to date his “own kind” and to leave the town’s white women alone. Uncle Raymond laughed at times and walked Jenny around town more than ever. He told Jenny what happened and she increased her affection in public, giggling loudly when people stared in apparent disgust.
Still Uncle Raymond said he was not in love with Jenny. He was in love with a girl back home who had set him up in the upholstery business in an effort to get him to give up show-business. To him defying the town with Jenny was fun…nothing more!
Finally the chief of police had Uncle Raymond picked-up. Uncle Raymond was taken to the Chief’s private office. He called Uncle Raymond a nigger, said he obviously didn’t know the “ways” of Albany, and told him if he kept on walking around town with this white woman hanging on his arm they would run him out of town.
Uncle Raymond was furious! He screamed at the chief of police.. He left the police station hollering, “I’ll show you!”
He went straight to a store and bought a wedding ring. That night at the club he proposed to Jenny. She was thrilled!
A short while later, married, arm in arm, they walked right past the police station. Jenny waved her fingers for all looking out from the building to see her wedding ring. They stepped into the cab they had waiting, went straight to the train station and left Albany. Since they had no money, no jobs and could not return to Albany, they came to our apartment in New York.