In today’s edition of Park Cities People, we published the second part of Buddy Macatee’s three-part essay on his old pal “Beauty.” Since I doubt many of you hold on to month-old newspapers, you can find Part 1 below.
In the entry hall of my memory, a small man, Acie Williams, stands smiling and quite tall. Everyone called him Beauty. Beginning in 1930, when I was 2 years old, Beauty became my mentor, friend, and protector. He was an early employee of Macatee Inc., our family building supply business, where he worked as a warehouseman and truck driver.
Also a favorite of Mother and Dad, Beauty performed various jobs for them at our house at 5422 Montrose in Greenway Parks. He cared for the yard, ran errands, and raised vegetables on the vacant lot next door. Beauty always wore khaki pants (often help up by a piece of rope around his waist), a khaki shirt, and a warm smile under an old felt hat.
He, along with our maid, Virginia Jackson, whom I called Gigi, looked after me in addition to their other chores. Today, I realize that my early environment evokes the Old South and that I was “manor born.” Occasionally, Gigi’s little sister, Mabel, came to spend the night at our house on Montrose and later at 4405 Westway. Only in 1986 did I discover that Mabel White, the leading Realtor in South Dallas and former City Council candidate, was the same Mabel.
Back in 1930, Macatee Inc. was located at 2907 San Jacinto, where the Central tracks crossed Ross Avenue. Today, a Central Expressway bridge crosses where our mortar plant and warehouse once stood. The Central tracks were significant because most of the materials Macatee Inc. sold came by rail. And here, in the Central right-of-way, Beauty wobbled or fell drunk most every Friday night.
The police, who must have known his routine, either snatched Beauty as he wobbled down the tracks after drinking too much cheap whiskey with his friends in Deep Ellum or found him lying unconscious, just as drunk, by the tracks, with a big knot on his head. They regularly hauled him to the station where they booked him as “Beauty Macatee.” Early on, Beauty established this identity in our jaded justice system as a guarantee of release on Saturday or Sunday.
Payday at Macatee Inc. on Friday afternoon at 5:30 meant, for Beauty, “Let the good times roll.” He felt his future rested in my dad, “Mr. Bud,” and believed his money was meant to be enjoyed, since he had no wife. In the brown pay envelopes in the 1930s there would be around $30, if there were no deductions. Money hot in hand, Beauty headed for Benny Binion’s “policy game.” Policy, the equivalent of today’s lottery, happened to be illegal, unregulated, and designed to separate “colored” folks from their money. (In the 1940s, Benny went on to Las Vegas, where he became wealthy as a casino owner.)
When Beauty occasionally won at policy, he rolled the dice afterward, while the “sponsor” of the floating game plied him with whiskey. Beauty either lost everything or was robbed by someone, probably one of the sponsor’s associates, as he staggered home on the tracks. Then the police, who allowed all this to happen, would arrive to arrest Beauty for drunkenness, put him in the slammer, and call Dad on Saturday morning with, “Mr. Macatee, we’ve got Beauty. Do you want us to keep him until Sunday evening?”
Dad’s response depended on his weekend agenda and where he and Beauty stood in their relationship. The weekends that Beauty got arrested tested Dad. But Beauty had a keen sense of how to work Dad and keep him as a dutiful benefactor.