At this point in the development of my book, “The Man Who Saved Basketball,” I am in that uncomfortable period between the time my literary agent has submitted the proposal to several editors and when she has gotten feedback. It is a painstakingly glacial process. No sense in bothering her. Having once been in sales myself, I know all too well that if I don’t make money, she doesn’t make money either.
In this period I have remained active on the book, and it’s what I wanted to talk about with this post. A fiction writer, at some point, believes he or she is done with a novel. The novel is submitted to an editor and then the editor rips it apart, turns it inside out, and eventually it is ready for an adoring market. Non-fiction, especially a biography and/or a story involving the protagonist and a lifelong friend is never done. Research always reveals new material. Sometimes it adds, other times it contradicts.
Junius Kellogg was a very private man. I was repeatedly told this by those who knew him well. No one knew every aspect of his personality. In addition, as I was conducting interviews, there were those who professed to know Junius who refused to share memories (I have my theories as to why) and at the other extreme, those who claimed to have knowledge of him who ultimately didn’t. Then there was a close relative of Junius, a person who could have been invaluable, who would only share memories with me for money. I found this particularly troubling for two reasons: that this close relative would rather Junius’ memory fade into oblivion than to elevate it, and that he was completely unaware how much a project of this nature has already cost me in travel, research material, social media and time.
Nevertheless, daily research often yields information that helps to round out and give life to the details of a man’s life. I thought that I would share bits and pieces I uncovered after the proposal was submitted that I will weave into the final manuscript.
Junius and Dick Van Dyke
This was unexpected! In researching photo-archives, I discovered a series of pictures taken by a CBS news team. This dates to December 30, 1955. Junius appeared on a Walter Cronkite news show. He is being interviewed by Dick Van Dyke who was merely an up and coming network news reporter. It is the featured image I’ve chosen for this post. For context, Junius was badly injured, almost fatally, on April 2, 1954. He was given therapy at the VA hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas for almost a year, when he was transferred to the Bronx, New York VA hospital. Someone reached out to Cronkite’s people and told them about Junius and his recovery. I wish I had a transcript of the interview but I would guess it is lost to time.
Junius and Floyd Layne Coaching c. 1988-90
I use Facebook with some regularity. FYI – Facebook.com/brucehwolkwriter, and I do convert some of my posts to ads. They work moderately well in inviting folks to my page, but the really great thing about FB is that people are more free to share memories. One person reached out and told me that Floyd Layne, a lifelong friend of Junius’, invited Junius to help him coach at George Washington H.S. in the Bronx. This would have been in the late 1980s, early 90s. Junius coached the centers and forwards. The story is particularly interesting as Junius loved to coach both fully-abled, and wheelchair bound basketball players. Junius inadvertently turned in his friends in 1951 as the basketball scandal roped in more and more players. Junius never forgave himself for involving men such as Floyd. Then again, Floyd had free will. They were tough times. Floyd fully forgave Junius. The story was that Junius also coached players in New York’s Rucker Park league.
Girl Scout Troop #90
A lovely woman, Regina Long Southall reached out to me through Facebook. She believes it was 1956 when she was 9 and remembers being at the “Colored Library” at 804 South Street in Portsmouth, VA. She was in a long line of Girl Scouts who filed past Junius in his wheelchair to shake Junius’ hand. Troop #90 was associated with the Ebenezer Baptist Church. Junius remained a Portsmouth celebrity throughout his life.
Baltimore Afro-American, April 6, 1954
I am always looking for additional details of Junius’ horrific automobile accident. It is important to be as accurate as possible with nonfiction. Though I have read as many reports as possible from that Friday afternoon (April 2, 1954) I recently picked up an important fact. The paper said, “Kellogg’s parents drove from Portsmouth, Virginia to his bedside Saturday night.” They really hauled the distance. It was at least 16 hours, a distance a minimum of 1,100 miles. Newspaper accounts couldn’t quite agree on how Theodore and Lucy got to the hospital. Junius was not quite sure whether his father was even there those first few days. Junius believed he saw his father and a woman he knew at the hospital but he wasn’t sure. The article confirmed Theodore was there. In the article, Boyd Buie, the driver, admitted that his right rear tire blew out as he went to pass another vehicle.
Ancestry confirmed that in 1940, Junius Kellogg lived at 1617 Sherwood Avenue in Portsmouth. He was 13 years old. By the time Junius left for college in 1945, the family had moved to 831 Pine Street. The streets they lived on, and the homes they live-in, were all defined by segregation of course.
These little tidbits, give life to a person. No detail is individually important, but collectively help to fill him out. I will keep on with my mission to research as many facts as possible and relate some of them in this blog.