Eddie Noel was always thought to be just a little odd by some people. Others thought him normal but somewhat quiet. Noel was legally married to a woman who worked in an establishment that served as a store during the day and a hot barroom at night. Lu Ethel, Eddie’s wife worked mostly nights waiting on the bar’s black customers because no white person would serve them. To whites in Jim Crow South, African Americans were no different than they were during their lowly days as slaves.
Blacks were poor. They had to survive on whatever low paying jobs they could find, when they could convince a white person to hire them. They were poor, yes, but not in spirit. Like always, black culture was principled.
Eddie Noel drove to the bar where his wife waited tables, took her by the arm and started for the door. He wanted Lu Ethel back. He missed her. He loved her. Besides, people talked. Lu Ethel and her employer were known secret lovers.
Confronted by Willie Ramon Dichard, a much larger man, Eddie courageously stood his ground and tried to walk around him. A wrestling battle broke out. In abject humiliation, Dichard beat up on Eddie, carried him out of the bar, crossed the porch, and dropped him into the dust.
In the aftermath, Eddie calmly walked to his car and took out his rifle. He carried it straight-up alongside his leg and approached Lu Ethel’s boastful boss, the rifle unseen. When Dichard approached Noel for another beating, Noel blasted a hole through his chest knocking him backward across the porch. Noel resolutely drove off with his wife in hand.
A short time later groups of armed whites drove toward Eddie from opposite directions. An expert marksman, he shot out their tires, killed a second man while the others hid behind and then under their automobiles. Like a demon specter firing from the darkness, Noel slid into the woods and vanished.
The unimaginable, the unthinkable had happened. A black man killed white men! Within hours of the shootings, a large dragnet ensued. Several times, Eddie shot his way out of overwhelming odds and escaped on foot into the woods and thickets.
In the end, what happened to this man? That part of the story I will leave to readers of The Time of Eddie Noel by Allie Povall. This book is a thriller and will not disappoint. It is a story that will lay bare the shredded layers of hatred and bigotry found in 1953 only 50 some years ago in Jim Crow South, Mississippi. Eddie was never really captured, but strange, rather odd circumstances kept him alive.
The Time of Eddie Noel would be a great read for anyone, but particularly the younger generation, who were not alive when racial prejudice began to skewer its way into the conscience of our nation. The tale will show them how difficult it was for American Blacks to pick themselves up by their own bootstraps, but they did, and then moved on.