I wouldn’t have a novel being published about me without the woman in the black Toyota. It took decades for someone to hear me and I don’t know if it was by chance or fate, but through telepathy she was the only one able to hear my plea. “Please tell my story before it’s too late.”
In the Spring of 2006, she drove by me looking puzzled, at 8:15 a.m., on the busy Niagara Street on the West Side of Buffalo, New York I call home. When she turned with a lingering look in my direction, I thought that maybe a miracle had occurred and hoped it wasn’t just my imagination.
For the next several years, I saw her black Toyota pass by me and noticed that she always turned her head in my direction. I would see her stop by weekly at Carm and Sal’s Gas Station, directly across the street from me. She would buy gas and visit for five or ten minutes, talking to either the father or the son who pumped her gas. I watched as they all would glance in my direction or point to the changes taking place on the outside of my building.
Although I was unable to communicate with her directly, I just knew she heard me, and I never gave up hope that she would tell my story. Time was taking its toll and I kept deteriorating a little bit at a time. I was becoming slightly desperate because I wanted to share my rich history with current and future generations before it was too late. I wanted people to have the opportunity to honor my tenants who were immigrants, refugees, internal migrants, and descendants of enslaved Peoples of Africa; their tales paying tribute to their struggle for freedom, and their lives proud legacies for current and future generations of Americans.
Then it happened and I’ll never, ever forget 2012, as this was the year the woman in the black Toyota pulled right up in front of my building and spoke to me. “Here I am FRED. I’m here to discover more about you and begin researching your story. I have to find out why you spoke to me, as never in my whole life has a building talked to me.”
Eventually, I found out that when she first saw me…heard me…she was shocked and couldn’t believe what had just happened to her. She rushed into her office which was not very far down the road from me, and scribbled down notes on a scrap pieces of paper. As the years passed by, she told everyone she worked with about me, Building #1469 on the corner of Niagara Street and Potomac Avenue. That was me before I got a real name. Fred.
I’ll tell you more about how her research team emerged next time. I can’t wait.