GUNS 2 THE GOSPEL
by George Duke
Much of the work that a Police Officer is involved in many times covers making the arrest of a perpetrator. Over the years I was involved in many arrests and all but one being found guilty of the charges that they commited. During the time I serve on the Pensacola Police Department I was happy with my fellow workers because we all tried to look after each other. I can not remember any time that I had a problem with my fellow officers. Normally in any work or job place most of the fellow workers are there to do a job well and are honest in their work . I would venture to say 90% of my fellow Police Officers were there because they wanted to do a good job and do it right, but there are always the few. It can be very dangerous in making an arrest but I found out it is better if you are polite, courteous, and resist the urge to be offensive. here are some short stories regarding some of the arrests I made that have stood out in my mind.
DATES WITH DANGER
First Capture and arrest
Munsey was a white male that had worked as a salesman for my brother in law who owned Ocean City Auto Sales in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. He became fed up with his job and decided to take all the cash and a car and leave. I had not been on the Pensacola Police force long when Narvel White reported the theft and embezzlement of the funds. At the time I did not know that Munsey was a nephew of Narvel when he instructed me to let other Policemen know he would give a $100 reward to anyone capturing Munsey.
It was a 11:00 pm on Saturday night when the paddy wagon dropped me off on the corner of Palafox and Gregory to walk beat 5 and 6. I loved this beat for the midnight shift because the Greyhound bus company had a cafeteria and open all night. The paddy wagon drove off and as I looked around suddenly I saw a man in the rear of the Hill Kelly used car lot looking at the cars. Kinda late for someone to be looking at cars I was thinking so I started walking toward the male in the car lot. As I approached he saw me and did not know what to do, and as he turned toward me I recognized him? It was Munsey. I walked up to him and placed him under arrest telling him he had just made me a $100. After handcuffing him we walked back to the corner where a call box was located and I called for a squad car to pick him up.
When I informed Narvel that I had captured Munsey he was thrilled but when he told his brother, his brother was furious, not with Munsey but with Narvel and me. Well guess if I ever received my $100.00?
The escaped Capture
The call came over the radio, “Escaped convicts from Raiford prison just reported coming across the bridge from Gulf Breeze, Florida. Instantly many car patrol officers said they were in the vacinity and a description of the convicts vehicle were given. One after one reports of a chase began and here I was in downtown Pensacola patrolling. It did not last long though before I realized they were headed my way. With tires squealling, red light flashing, and siren blowing I joined the chase. I was the last of the patrol cars and joined the chase on Garden and Palafox Street. During the chase they appeared to be losing the patrol cars as they turned right on Palafox, then right on the next street speeding back north. all the cars continued behind them and when I got to railroad street I decided to turn right and go back to Garden Street and block them off in the event they turned right and then right again as it appeared they had been doing. I was right and when they saw me blocking their way they turned right on a non road with a rail track. The rails were very high and their tires could not jump them at the speed and angle they were travelling. Then they noted the tracks dead ended and there was no way out. They leaped out of the car leaving the doors open and began to run. I leaped out with my gun in hand and began to chase them firing a shot over their head. It just took the one shot and they stopped with their hands raised and I was able to subdue them with handcuffs. After the capture I was given a $100 reward which I shared with a fellow officer that had gotten his motorcycle tangled up on the rails also.
The Corrupt Police Captain
He was sitting in his red convertible with his motor running on west Cervantes street as I patrolled the central business area of Brownsville which you could call West Pensacola . Not thinking anything was amiss as I checked out the business area, I smiled at him as I passed his car. Upstairs was the Conger Insurance company where agents many times were known to work late pulling their accounts. I passed by the Convertible and walked up the stairs , saw the door to the building where Conger was one of the offices inside. Walking pass the door into the hallway I made my way toward the office, making a right turn then a left turn I suddenly heard footsteps running down the stairwell. I looked ahead and discovered there was no one in the Insurance company office. Immediately I ran back down the hallway toward the exit almost crashing into the open door where moments ago two burglars were holding a shotgun hidden behind the then closed door of a empty room just inside the hall entrance. Quickly I looked inside the room seeing to my amazement where the floor had been torn out, I realized that I was seeing a crime scene. As I ran down the stairs I heard the squeal of tires as the red convertible raced off . With my gun in my hand I screamed halt, but they were too far away for me to fire, and I watched as the red convertible disappeared in the distance. It was then that I turned around and saw I was standing in front of the local Jewelry store. Looking upstairs where the room they had been in I realized that I had just stopped a actual burglary in progress where they had been tearing out the flooring above the Jewelry store. Later in the capture of the burglars I found out that they were ready to blow me apart if I had entered the room where they were behind the door.
Running down the street to the corner I opened the call box and reported the burglary. I gave the description of the car and soon a patrol car arrived on the scene and they took over the crime scene. When I was asked to describe the driver of the convertible I told the Investigator that he looked similar to “Jimmy” who ran the news stand on Palafox street in downtown Pensacola but I quickly added, “It was not Jimmy”.
The following night when we were about to leave the station, I described the burglar driver to the officer that walked the beat downtown. When I told him the description of the car and driver. he quickly replied, “that’s Sonny, Cocky Roache’s son. I see him every night driving downtown to Trader John’s.” Next time you see him pick him up for me and I will come in and sign the warrant I instructed. The following night he informed me that he had picked up Cocky Roche’s son but Captain Harper let him go saying “Oh Cocky Roche’s son would never do that! Later I discovered the Captain was his uncle. End of story? No I called the County Sheriff, Bill Davis and explained what had occurred. They put a tail on the son and a week later caught the gang robbing another jewelry store. It was after their capture that I learned that they almost killed me during the burglary.
The Girl with the Red hair
I was patrolling on West Cervantes Street and noticed a lady standing in the street and when she saw me she hastily retreated to the sidewalk. Looking around to see if I had spotted her she smiled as I drove up to question her because we had had reports of hookers working in the Brownsville area. I asked her what she was doing and she replied oh I am on my way to the store. Why? What’s up officer? Could you show me some I.D. I asked? She did not have any and I asked her what her name was? With a big grin she stared me in the eyes and said I am Joyce Taylor, what’s your name Officer? Officer Duke I answered. I then asked her what she did for a living? Smiling again and looking into my eyes she said, Oh I seem to be without a job at the moment. Where do you live I asked? Well I actually do not have anywhere at the moment as I lost my room with some friends. I then said Joyce I am going to have to arrest you for Vagrancy and Loitering. Why would you do that Duke? Because we have had complaints that women were working the street here in Brownsville selling sexual favors and we have been asked to clear the street of anyone that did not have a job and was on the street loitering especially if they had no I.D. or place to live. On the way to the jail at the Police Station Joyce kept smiling at me and chatting. Finally I got her booked and left her at the jail where she got a bunk and 2 meals a day until she was released.
The next day one of the Policemen that had worked at the jail teased me about my violent offender who wrote my name all over the walls of the cell with love symbols. What in the world did you do to her, he asked? I arrested her and that’s all was my reply.
While patrolling in my squad car I came to a halt at the red light at Cervantes and E street. A small MG travelling east which had stopped across from me suddenly squealed off running the red light and crossed over in front of me. What in the world has he done to see me and speed off like that I thought. Quickly I turned on my red light and took off after him. Wow that MG was one fast little car and quickly left me at a distance. After many turns though we came back to Cervantes street travelling west, then he turned north on E street. The street was downhill and I noted I was doing 90 mph when all of a sudden in front of me at the bottom of the him he turned left and made the turn. Oh yes in my 1957 dodge I tried to make the turn but lost control of my vehicle which was twisting around I let go of the wheel and closed my eyes and called out Lord help me! When I opened my eyes I looked and NO, I had not crashed my car had straightened out and I was still after the MG which lost control a few blocks later and crashed. Pulling my gun I ran up to his vehicle, ordered him out of the car, handcuffed him, then asked him, what are you wanted for?” Nothing I just ran the red light, I was in a hurry then I saw you and I ran,” Surprise surprise surprise!
It was freezing and the wind was blowing quite a bit as we walked into the Greyhound Bus Terminal to get a cup. As we went to the Cafeteria the cashier pointed out a man slumped over in one of the seats and asked us to do something with him. We walked over to where the man was slumped over and attempted to awaken him but to no avail. Finally Officer Joseph got under one arm and I under the other to move him outside to be picked up by the paddy wagon. As we carried him outside, all of a sudden he felt the freezing rain and wind and came alive, fighting and kicking screaming let me go using all types of foul language. Well I kept my hold on him trying to keep him subdued never thinking of using my billy club on him. But Officer Joseph had other ideas. He pulled out his slapjack and hit the man and lost his slapjack. It fell on the sidewalk and he let the man go and left me to wrestle with the drunk alone. The man went wild punching at me so finally I pulled off my billy club and hit him on the side of his head. Instantly he stopped fighting with me, sit down on the pavement and started crying out holding his head. Well the paddy wagon arrived and we put him inside to be taken to be treated for his injury and then to the Jail at the police station.
The next day I had to appear in court to testify against him. I felt so sorrowful when I saw where I had hit him in the head. When I testified I told the Judge that he did not know what he was doing. All he knew was 2 men were hauling him outdoors and he resisted. Well all the Judge did was find him guilty of being drunk in a public place and resisting arrest. This was one of only 2 resisting arrest during my many years with the Pensacola Police Department in Pensacola, Florida. The other offense was when I arrested a young male in the Saengher Theatre. This was on a Saturday night at the Midnight show. I was called to take him out of the theatre and when we got outside he started fighting with me and attempted to return to the theatre. Finally to protect myself I pulled my club and hit him once causing him to come under submission.
Having only 2 resisting arrests during the duration of my job as a Police officer could be attributed to the officer that broke me in. On my very first call to a bar to make an arrest for disturbing the peace I walked up to the subject and began to pull him outside. He kept resisting and finally we handcuffed him and placed him in the car. Later after booking the subject, My instructor looked at me and asked, : Duke If you would like, I would be glad to tell you how to prevent over 90% of resisting arrests. I looked at him and eagerly replied, I would love to know? He then related that if I would just lightly touch the subject on the shoulder when making an arrest and asking them to come with you most people will come and never be a problem If you grab them and start pulling them the average person will pull back and resist which will escalate the problem. I really was thankfull for this advise and tried to follow it in every arrest I made which was many over the years. I also noticed that many of the persons I arrested by me personally never gave me any trouble but later I found out on the way or at the Police Station they fought with the holding officer and were charged with resisting arrest.
Genesis in the bible is considered the beginning. So I have called this first chapter Genesis for my beginning.
On August 2nd 1934 Adolph Hitler assumed the position of Führer(Supreme Leader) of Germany. Almost instantly he began to rid Germany of any Democracy that they held. From the time that he assumed the position at Supreme leader he began to rid Germany of the freedoms that she had enjoyed in the past. The most horrendous thing about the rise to power was the fact that even theChristians of Germany helped to make his rise to power successful. Between the time that he became the Führer (Supreme Leader) and his invasion of Poland 3rd September 1939 the Winds of war began. It was during the ending years that I was born. As I got older I learned how some of my Uncles had been called to fight against the Germans in WWll and some of them had lost their lives. It was during the Winds of War on June 5th, 1938 that George Clifford Duke was born in Georgiana Alabama. Now you might think I was named after the city of my birth but no I was named after a tent revival evangelist. It is sometimes laughable how some parents come up with names for their children? My parents were George Douglas Duke and Elnora Brooks Duke. I remember my mother telling me how I came about my middle name. If she had named me after my father altogether I would have been a junior. Well she did use his first name but she told me about a Evangelist that came to Georgiana. Every now and then she would attend his meetings that were being held in a Tent . Well she was so impressed with the preacher that she gave me one of his names. Clifford was that name and that is the reason today I am not George Douglas Duke Jr. I have always wondered if my name had been recorded in heaven before I was even born because later in life I would turn to Jesus Christ and become a preacher of his word. The word of Truth. Jesus is that word and he is truth.
The reason I was born in Georgiana is that it is the nearest town to where my Mother and Father lived that had a hospital. The Duke plantation was miles back into the woods. And no we did not have any slaves! As a matter of fact my grandparents and family were the slaves themselves farming the land. Granddad had around 18 kids. I asked once why did he have so many kids? I was told that in those days people that had farms had a lot of kids to help them with the farming and the chores. After they had grown up most of the Duke family still lived somewhere close to the plantation. I don’t remember very much about the earliest days after my birth as many of you probably don’t, but there are sections in my life that even at a early age still lies in my memory. I guess that the first thing I can remember was having my first photo taken. I remember playing on a tricycle and then the photographer taking me into a room and tossing a rubber ball to me. He tossed the ball to me several times and then it went under the bed and got lost as he told me he was unable to find it. He then asked me to sit on a stool for my picture. I guess he was playing for the sake of getting my attention in order to get me to listen to him and follow his instructions. Years later when I looked at the picture my mind would be taken back to that first memory.
In the picture I had on a pair of short pants and very blond hair. Also I noticed how fair in complexion I was. Being fair in complexion later caused me a lot of grief because as I got older I began to freckle and other kids would make fun of the freckles It was not long after the picture that I remember moving away from the plantation into Georgiana and living there in the town.
II-THE GOOD OLD DAYS
Wow the great thing about living in the town was we had a pump for water and it worked all the time. Back at the farm we had awell with a bucket on a rope. Also beside the house there was a huge tank that caught the water when it ran off the roof. This water from the tank was used for our bath which we took at least once a week. There was a large tub that we would fill with the water from the rain barrel. Oh doesn’t this bring back fond memories? We would let it sit in the hot sun to warm up then get in the tub and bathe. A Lot of difference from today. OH the good old days don’t we all desire and long in our heart to go back to them? After moving into town we would often go back to the plantation to visit with Grandmother and Grandfather Duke at family reunions. As I have mentioned my grandparents had had about 18 kids and some of them had died after birth and some had died in the war. When we would all get together at their home, the grown ups would all eat first and if there was anything left the kids would come in and eat. If they ran out of food which they did every time I can remember going there, then we would have to wait and they baked some biscuits and made some grease gravy. Most of the time that was what I had. One morning after we had stayed the night I got up for breakfast and Granny Duke told me she did not have any eggs. Well I had seen a large basket of eggs under her bed earlier and I looked at her and blurted out that I knew where there were some eggs. She asked me where? I said Granny they are under your bed in a basket. She got really mad at me and told me to eat my gravy and biscuits. I later came to find out that Granny saved those eggs for selling where they would be able to buy flour and supplies when they went to town. We did not have cars at this time so we either walked, rode a horse, or horse and wagon to get to town. Normally Saturday was the day that we would go to town and since the trip was long we would get all the supplies for the week.
Sunday was a great day to be at the farm especially when all of the other Aunts and Uncles would come with their kids. All of us kids would get together and play on the horse drawn wagons without using the horses. Some of us would pull the wagon while others would ride. when we came to a hill we would all leap on the wagon and coast down the hill . Sometimes this did not work very well. Matter of fact last time I remember we all hopped on as the wagon as it began to roll down the hill and suddenly the kid holding the tongue let go of it and the wagon veered to the side and crashed, turning over dumping all of us. One of my cousins limped a lot after the crash. I guess he did not land correctly like the rest of us. Good thing he did not land on his head. Now this is a good reason for my being like I am today? Right?
Another way we would have great fun was with cardboard boxes getting inside and rolling down the hills. That was just about all that we had for our toys in those days. The older boys would maybe have a sling shot and if they wanted to be mean the younger kids would get pelted with peas.
After the beginning of the war there became many openings for jobs for everyone as many of the men were called into the service and sent overseas. Women began to take their places working in the factories making things that were needed for the war. It was the war that ended the dreadful recession. It was during this time that My dad went to work for the Louisville & Nashville railroad and much of his work was out of town so he was away most of the time. Because he was working for the railroad his job was essential during the war and he was deferred from having to enter the services. Well that’s what he told me. As we now lived in Georgiana Alabama and his work was normally in Mobile Alabama or Mississippi we would not see him for long periods of time. In 1944 he moved us out of Alabama to a place called South Flomaton, Florida which was just across the state line from Flomaton, Alabama. I remember the home that we lived in very well even to this day. There were My Mom and my brother Bob and two sisters Dorothy and Doris. Well after Dad had moved us to Florida he stopped coming to see us and Mom eventually found out that he had another woman in Bay Saint Louis Mississippi who he had been living with when he was not at our home. The house he moved us into was a small shotgun house that had 4 rooms. If you do not know what a shotgun house is, well it’s a house where all the rooms are in a straight line and you have to walk through each room to get to another room. After Mom and Dad’s divorce my Mother had gotten ajob at the Navy Yard in Pensacola and would travel back and forth every day to work. The journey was 50 miles each way. It was near the close of the war and there was a lot of jobs for anyone available to work. There were quite a few that made the trip from the area and one of the local farm and dairy owners supplied a truck for them to be able to travel in. Each one paid for the trips by the week and one of the drivers was named Glenn McDavid. After Mom had been divorced for awhile she and Glen began to see each other. It wasn’t very long afterward’s that they got married.
III-THE BAD OLD DAYS
After the marriage it became obvious that Glenn was an alcoholic. He would go out and drink and come in drunk raving and a ranting. If Mom said anything to him he would curse her and many times hit her. I remember that it got worse and we would have to leave the house when he would come in and stay in the fields till he passed out or went out again.
One night while Mom was in the hospital in Century, Florida Bob and I was home alone and we heard Glenn coming. We could hear him talking to himself out loud so we knew he was drunk. So we climbed up into the loft to hide from him because we never knew what type of mood he would be in when he was drunk. It was either drunk or overly sweet, fondling, or cursing and swearing at us. That night I remember him coming in calling for us. We stayed up in the loft and did not answer. Finally he must have went to bed but because we were so scared and did not want him to know we were hiding in the loft we just stayed up in the loft the rest of the night. The next morning we climbed down, dressed and went to school. Well the hospital was just across from my school and when the recess period came I went across the street and found the window that was near Mom’s bed. It was open and when she looked down at me she squealed what’s happened to you? She got up out of her bed got a wet cloth and soap, reached out the window and began to wash me off. Apparently from sleeping in the loft all night the black coal soot in the attic had gotten all over me. Afterwards I remember the owner of the hardware store calling me sooty when he would see me. As a matter of fact I kept that name for a long time. Later in life I was able to rid myself of the name by cleaning myself up.
During this time in my life I remember we had very little money and we ate a lot of things that I do not eat today. Tripe was cheap and it on the menu, a free bone from the butcher shop to make soup would be our Saturday meal. I remember many times though running out of food and we would try to find some bread and put sugar on it if we had any. On Thursdays they would have a cattle auction nearby and I would take a large pot and after everyone had eaten they would allow us to take what was left. Sunday we might have a chicken and when there were no visitors I would be able to eat the thigh. If we had visitors I got the back. Listen I know how to make the best of eating the back of the chicken. When I finished there was nothing left but the bone. Them bones them bones them dry bones now hear the word of the Lord. I ate the gristle and the lights. I think of many times of the little girl that said Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.
We all would have turns washing dishes and doing chores in the house. One of the chores I had to do at home was to keep Glenn’s shoes shined. He had a nice shoe shine box and as I was always looking for a way to make money. One day I told Glen that I would like to go downtown and shine shoes. I asked if I could use his box for this and he said yes. I took the box and would walk around town asking people to let me shine their shoes. I remember once I asked a man if I could shine his shoes. He looked at me and said oh NOOOOoooo the last time you shined my shoes you got shoe polish on my white socks. I pleaded with him to let me shine his shoes telling him I would make sure I did not get polish on his shoes. He finally relented and I got down and started polishing his shoes. Guess what happened? YES I got polish on his pretty white sock. Some how he did not see me do it so I was able to get my money and take off.
I did well most days and normally made enough that at the evening time I would take some of the money and go to the local café and buy a big plate of French fries. Later some of the local older boys thought that I was making a lot of money doing it that they all got boxes and began walking around town trying to shine shoes. One day when I came to town with my shoe shine box the local police chief came to me and told me that I could no longer shine shoes on the street. I asked him why and he told me that because all of the local boys were doing it that they had had a lot of complaints because they would pester people while they were walking and people complained. Well there went my money and my lovely French fry meals.
EARLY WORKING YEARS
Even though I had worked as a shoeshine boy for quite some time I really began working later on. Today they have laws on kids working and I am so glad that back then there were no laws to hinder.
Around 1949 Bob my brother was able to find a job working at the local movie theatre and once a month they would deliver calendars’ to homes showing what would be showing during the month. One day he asked me if I would like to make some money helping. I remember Sammie Jackson the owner taking us to different areas and we would walk the neighborhood dropping off the circulars. I worked a bout a week and when we were finished he paid me and there I was holding my first dollar. Wow! I felt rich with that dollar in my hand. I loved going to the theatre and after a few months of working for Mr. Jackson he asked me if I wanted to help at the theatre sweeping up in the front and in the vestibule. A couple of years doing this when I reached 12 years of age he allowed me to bean usher and clean up after the movie had ended at night.
I can barely remember my older sister being at home. I do remember her working at the train station restaurant and dating a fellow by the name of Narvel White. He must have had some money because he was the first fellow that she had dated that had a automobile. It was a Ford convertible and they would go out and sometimes pass the house while we were sitting on the porch with the top down. Well they ran off and got married and moved away to Pensacola Florida, about 40 miles south of where we lived. Every now and then I would be invited to take the greyhound bus with mom and go visit them.
Once just before we had decided to travel down to visit I remember someone speaking about them getting religion. When we arrived to spend the weekend with them I realized that Dorothy had really changed. She did not wear make up and she wore dresses that were a lot longer than she use to. When we arrived we found out that there was a tent revival at the church she attended in Ensley. Well we all got ready and went to the revival. The people acted a lot different in this service than I had been use to. They were a lot louder in their worship and some of them made funny talk when they prayed. I did not understand it but really thought it was strange.
After living for some time in the house in South Flomaton Mr. Harold McCurdy who owned and supplied the truck for traveling back and forth to Pensacola for the workers offered Glenn a house he owned on his farm. He had 2 small houses that he had built for workers. One of them was vacant and he offered to let Glen rent it. We moved into the home and there I spent many years of my life on the farm next to the railroad track. Boy when those night trains came by they shook the whole house. One night I was awakened after the train had gone by. It was storming outside, the lightning was ferocious. I was scared to death and I remember getting up kneeling by my bed and praying. I did not know how to pray or what to pray. I remembered a prayer that I had heard once and I prayed that prayer. I lay me down to sleep, I pray my Lord my soul to keep, If I die before I wake I pray my Lord my soul to take. It must have worked because after that I felt peace and was able to go back to bed and go to sleep. After that I began to go to the First Baptist Church in Flomaton when I could get a ride. The problem was getting a ride. A walk would have been about 4-5 miles and Mom would not let me walk that far. But God does know our needs. I would say that God supplied my need.
One night I was cleaning upstairs in the theatre and lo and behold I was startled when I looked down on the floor and saw a $ 20.00 bill laying there. In those days that was a whole lot of money. I picked it up and then began to debate whether I should pocket it or turn it in. I was really tempted to keep it and say nothing, but then a small voice inside me said turn it in. Mr. Sammie Jackson could have placed it there to see how honest you are. Well I listened to the voice and gave it to Mr. Jackson who told me that he would hold it for two weeks and if no one claimed it I could have it. Well this was the beginning of a very dedicated prayer life. I prayed for two weeks for no one to claim that twenty dollar bill. When the two weeks were up Sammie Jackson handed me that money and I was the happiest person alive. I knew what I would do with the money. I went down to the Western Auto hardware store and purchased my first ever bicycle the western flyer. I then went to the shoe shop and bought my first ever brand new pair of shoes. This truly was a blessing from God and a answer to need. Back in those days kids went barefooted most of the time. I remember how hard my feet would get. I could walk on pebbles just like I had a pair of shoes on. But it was glass that wreaked havoc. Many times I would step on a piece of cut glass while walking barefooted and end up with a cut foot.
After getting my Western Flyer from Western Auto I was able to ride it to work, Church, and school. I then began to go to church on a regular basis. In church one Sunday Morning we had a evangelist. I had never heard a evangelist preach like him. I remember crying during the sermon and when he asked for those that wanted to be saved to come forward I made my way all the way to the front with tears running down my face. I stood there praying in my silent way waiting for something to happen. Well that was all! Nothing else happened. I waited and waited and finally the Pastor asked everyone who wanted to join the church to sign the register. It seemed like I had reached for God and he had dropped me. After this I began to read my bible as much as I could. One week I was reading the bible and came across this scripture: Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 16:18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. I kept reading it but it did not make sense to me. Well when I went to Sunday school I asked the teacher if he knew what it meant to speak with a new tongue? He read the scripture several times and finally said No I don’t. I asked him if he could find out. Well I will ask the Pastor he replied. I waited weeks for him to come and tell me what it meant. Finally I went back to him and asked if he had found out about it. He said oh yes it means you do not talk nasty or curse anymore. Well it sounded good to me, but years later I would find out it really meant something else.
It was while we lived on the McCurdy farm that Glenn and Mom had twins. They named them Ronald and Donald. We grew up together rand I remember having to go out and get milk from the McCurdy farm for Glenn’s boys. It was a long walk across the fields to the dairy and then back to the house. After coming back with the milk I would ask for some and Glenn would never allow me to have any. I guess that he weaned me early. It was also there that I really started smoking a lot. I started off by stealing packs of cigarette’s from Glenn’s Carton of Camels. I do not believe he ever found out that I was taking them. I remember the first time I tried one I went way out in the field and found a low spot where I could not be seen from the house and lit up. At first when I tried to inhale it, I felt my lungs burning, but after awhile I was able to smoke like a trooper.
THE MOVE TO PENSACOLA FLORIDA
I was around 13 when we moved to Pensacola to the Pleasant Grove area and had to give up my job working at the theater. Since the war had been over for a few years now Glenn was finding it harder to travel back and forth daily the 100 miles. Also Mister McCurdy wanted to discontinue the truck run. So he had found a small house as near to the Navy base as he could. I remember a lot of good times there when I was able to go out and roam the woods and the beach area. There was an old lighthouse on the reservation near us and a lot of us kids would go over and climb to the top. Doris my younger sister would go along if mom did not have her doing chores at home. On Sundays there was a large Baptist church and I would attend there. I got to meet a lot of people from the area. Glenn always appeared to be glad that I attended a Baptist church because as he put it that is where my mother went. I don’t believe I ever remember him attending but he thought it was great that I did.
It was not very long after we moved to Pleasant Grove that I finished Elementary school and began attending Warrington Junior High School. The school was around 4 miles from where we lived and I would have to catch the bus or ride my bicycle. Since the highway there was so busy Mom and Glenn did not want me riding so I had to go by bus. I became a crossing guard at the school and also tried to get on the football team. One day at sports I made a tremendous play in football and the coach came and asked me if I would like to try out for the team. I really felt great that night when I went home and asked Glenn to allow me to play on the football team. His answer shocked me when he said No. He told me that I would not be able to get home because practice was after school and there was no one to bring me home if I did not catch the school bus. I was really sad when I went back and told the coach that I would not be able to play on the team.
I did win a competition as the top crossing guard and the highlight of the trip was to go with others from various schools to the Capital in Washington D.C. It was a great experience. Traveling on the train then being able to see the sights in Washington. We were taken to all of the places that we had heard about in history which included the Washington Monument and the Lincoln memorial. Also we visited the mint where we were able to see them print money. There was one problem that we had? They never gave us any samples. On the trip up to Washington one of the great things was that the hotels and the trains had toilets in them. Other than at school I was used to having to walk down the path to a toilet that had been dug in the ground and a small building built around it. Boy I use to be scared to death every time I would have to use one of what we called a outhouse. I was always afraid there would be a snake under the wooden seat and would get bit. There was no light and if you had to go at night in darkness you had to take a flashlight with you to be able to see. Glenn had a night pot in the house but did not want me to use it. If I did he would curse me out the next morning. He let me know that he had it for his boys.
Over the years things began to get worse at home. Glenn found out that mom was going to Pentecostal prayer meetings and he did not like it. He would try and get off work and come in early to try and catch her coming in from one. I remember him screaming, cursing her, threatening her with a butcher knife and her running around the house screaming. Many times she would cry out to me to help her. I was so scared to death of Glenn I would just hide away somewhere. This continued on until the day I left there. What finally caused me to leave? Well I had planted a garden in behind the house and was raising vegetables. I had spent a lot of time plowing and seeding and one day I came in and my half brothers Ronald and Donald were in there with the plow tearing up the plants that had come up. I was mad when I saw what they were doing, ran in the fenced in garden and took the plow away from them and tossed it over the fence. Well they began crying and ran into Glenn and told him that I had hit them and took away the plow that they were playing with. He came out to where I was standing in the garden. He would not allow me to speak, just told me to get inside the house that he was going to whip me with the razor strap. As I turned to go inside he struck me with his fist and knocked me down. I fell to the ground and mom ran out screaming for him to stop. He then took me inside and used the strap on me. Well that was the last day that Glenn would ever hitme. The following day after noon while Mom was away I took money from her money box that dad had sent for her to use for me and I left home.
I had thought it all out. I would go back to South Flomaton, buy a tent and live in the tent. Well I did just that. There was a large field behind my best friend’s home and I put my tent up. I was not there but a few hours and when my friend Hiram Johnson’s dad came in and found out what I was doing he made me come into his home. I did not know it at the time but he contacted my dad and told him where I was at. My dad sent him a railroad pass and had him place me on a train to come to his home. Well I had spent a lot of my life being hated by a stepfather and now I would learn how to be hated by a stepmother. She had once told me that if she ever found me smoking she would make me put the whole pack in my mouth and she would turn them around and make me smoke them from the lit end till they burned my lips real good.
On the train ride to his place I began to remember Florence his wife. She had red hair and a fiery temper to match her hair. I remember the times I had visited before and how she had treated me and my brother Bobby when we were there. I arrived in Bay Saint Mississippi and was met at the station by my Father. After I had gotten settled in the following day I had to go enroll in the school there in Bay Saint Louis. For the next couple years that I was there I found life just as miserable as it was under my Stepfather. Finally I decided when I was 16 to leave there. During these years, a person in Mississippi could get a drivers license at the age of 15. I got my drivers license and Florence my Stepmother wanted me out of the house so badly that she slipped mea railroad pass to be able to ride on the train. That night I caught the train back to Pensacola. When I arrived back my sister Dorothy allowed me to stay with her for awhile and I began looking for a job. I was able to finally get a job working at a bowling alley setting pins. I was not making enough money though to afford to rent a place. Apparently Narvel Dorothy’s husband felt like I had stayed long enough and asked her to get me to find some where else to live. I left her home and had no where to go. I did not have enough money for a place of my own. I had been going to the United Pentecostal Church in Ensley with them and so I would go to work at the bowling alley then in the dark of the night I would slip into the church and sleep on the floor. Wow I had become a real homeless person for real. Years and years later when I confessed to the Pastor, Robert Glass and told him that I would slip in the church and stay he looked at me and said Duke I knew you were, That’s why I would leave a window unlocked for you. Well staying in the church and working at the ally finally I had enough to rent a room in a boarding house which was real popular in those days. I had enough money to pay for a week and moved into a room near downtown Pensacola. In the church in Ensley I heard about a job driving an elderly attorney around. I had a Mississippi drivers license and went down and applied for the job. Well Mister Holsberry hired me. I enjoyed working for him but it only lasted for two weeks. During the second week he had a farm north of Pensacola and I drove him to the farm where he was told that they had a load of cattle that needed to be trucked over to another area. He asked me to drive the truck loaded with the cattle and on the way as I was driving from the dirt road unto the Highway the truck bed turned over. I had to drive up a large hill to get onto the highway and turn sharp to the right. Well when I got to the top and turned right the cattle slid over to one side of the enclosure which caused the bed to tip over and fall off the truck. Cattle went everywhere. When Mr. Holsberry got to the scene he called the Florida Highway Patrol. As we waited I knew I was in for it if the Patrolman asked me for my driver’s license as they were no good with me working on a job in Florida. Finally the patrolman arrived, and my heart was beating fast waiting for him to request my license. When he saw what had happened he said well I don’t have to make a report on this as this is not a reportable offense. He said it only involved our personal property and that no other public or personal property was involved. He never asked me for my license and he got back into his car and drove off. Boy was Mr. Holsberry mad though. He had to get men out to round up the cattle and finally after a few hours we got the job done. I knew he was mad and I could not wait to get off work that day. It was the last day that I worked for him. I heard that there were construction jobs going so I decided I would try and get on as a construction worker. When applying for the job though I found out I would have to be 18 years of age. I was only 16 at the time. So I felt like if I had a Florida drivers license that showed me as 18 I would be ok. So I went to the drivers license Bureau and when I tried to apply for a license they asked me for my birth certificate or draft card to prove I was 18. I told them I did not have either. The License examiner looked at me and said Boy if you are 18 and not registered for the draft you are in violation of the law. I looked at him and shaking all over told him Sir, I will go down and register right now. Well I went home and spent the night figuring out what to do. The next morning I had it planned. I would go to the draft board and tell them I was 18 and wanted to register. I did just that. They did not require me to show a birth certificate so I filled out the paperwork lied about my age, got my card and away I went to the drivers license bureau, passed my test and got a license to drive in Florida. The next day I joined the union and went to work on construction. For the next 3 months I would work on various construction sites. One of the two most memorable sites I worked on was building the huge silo at Armstrong rubber plant and building the Woolworth addition downtown. Both involved climbing. I remember when they sent me to the Woolworth building I was told that I was to step out from the roof unto a lift that brought up material for us to use such as cement and block’s, they had been loaded in wheel barrows and I would have to get the barrow, pull it off the lift and take it to the builder. Most of what I was unloading was concrete that was sent up in the wheel barrows. It was a scary job because there was no siding around the lift. It was a whole lot scarier when I learned that the job I had been given was a job that the previous worker had died from. He had gone onto the lift and while trying to get the wheel barrow full of concrete off he slipped and fell over the side. When I was told this I acted gung ho like any other youth would and acted like it did not bother me. But as quick as another job opened somewhere else I took it.
One of the problems with working construction work was you would have a job one week and the next week you might not. So when I heard that there was a job at E.E. Saunders frozen food company I went down and applied for it. I got the job and began working in the freezer as a warehouseman. We had to wear parka’s and overalls to help us to stay for long periods of time in the freezer. I had been making $1.25 an hour when I worked construction work but when I hired in as a warehouseman I dropped to $.75 cents per hour. That was a lot of difference in pay between then and now. I can not find anyone that will work for me for $1.25 a hour now. The difference was I had a regular job and full hours weekly. When I first started the job I found out that it was a very strenuous job especially when you had to unload large trucks and box cars. A conveyor belt brought the boxes to you and you would toss the boxes from the belt to each other and stack them up into large tiers. I did not know it but the hardest job was the one next to the stacker. It was easy when he first started stacking but as the stack grew taller , he would have to then build a second stack and then would leap up on the lower stack to stack the first one up to a 16 foot ceiling, Well then you had to start throwing the boxes up high to reach him. Well you know where the group puts the new person on the job don’t you? Yes Duke got placed next to the stacker. The first week almost killed me but some how I made it. After two weeks I began to get muscles I never knew I had and as time went by I could stand with the strongest of them. Well after working as a warehouseman for almost a year I finally reached 17. Air Force time!
GUNS 2 THE GOSPEL
I-YOUR IN THE AIR FORCE NOW
I had always wanted to be in the U.S. Air Force. My older brother Bob had been in and I admired and looked up to him and really wanted to follow in his footsteps. So off I went and enrolled and on June I was headed for San Antonio, Texas where I would learn what hell would be like.
On enlisting in the United States Air Force I had to travel to Montgomery Alabama for my physical and shots. What a laugh when they stood us all in a line naked and told us to bend over and spread our cheeks. I laughed when some of the other enrollees did not know that cheeks they were speaking about were not the ones on the face. Some of them pulled on their faces till they noticed how everyone else was doing it. After all the physical checks we then had our blood samples taken. We lined up and the first medic would insert a vial with a needle on it to our vein and we would walk to the next medic which would remove it. It was a new experience for some of us and there were several that passed out around me. After completing all the requirements the next day we all boarded a train for San Antonio Texas. It was a long trip and we had to spend the night in a sleeper car. We were told that we would arrive early in the morning and would be able to stay in the sleeper till we awoke. Well the joke was on us! It must have been 4:00 A.M. when we were rudely awakened by training Instructors going through the car screaming for us to get up. Most of us had never gotten up at 4 before. We found out it would not be the last time we were gotten up at 4 am. We all smoked and the first thing we did was light upa cigarette. We lined up casually, laughing, talking, and puffing away on our smokes. LINE UP the Instructor shouted and put those cigarettes’ out. You are in the Air Force now. You will not talk, you will not laugh, you will not smoke unless I tell you to and guess what? He did not tell us too for the next 2 weeks. During the next 15 weeks we went through rigorous basic training ending with us going on Maneuvers’ spending a week living in the desert. During our Basic Training we learned not to smoke and to endure harsh pressure with training instructors screaming and cursing us out to see if we would break. Some did but I made it through somehow. During this time we had to attend classes in orientation for our job selection. We filled out all the forms and I listed 3 choices that I would like to be. My first choice was to be a Air Policeman. Later I was told when meeting with the counselor that the quota was filled for Air Police and that my tests were a lot higher than those for AP work. I then was told that they could place me as a Special Weapons Specialist. I agreed to the selection and was assigned to go to school in Denver Colorado for my schooling. Finally my 15 weeks of Basic hell came to an end and we were to be allowed to go home for 10 days. I could not wait to get out of hell. The night before I was to leave I was awoken in the middle of the night and taken to CQ headquarters where I was informed I would not be able to leave the next day because some of my bedding had been damaged. I knew that I had not done anything to my bedding but you did not argue with the CQ and win. It was a Friday night and I was told it would be the following week before I would be able to meet with the supply office and pay for the bedding. I begged the sergeant to let me give him the money. Finally he said well I am not supposed to do it but well ok give me the money and I will pay it for you when the office opens on Monday. I gladly gave him the money and went back to the barracks. Later on the next morning I found out that they were operating a con and just about everyone had been called in and required to pay. Well at least I was able to leave and that was all that mattered to me even if I was out some money it was worth it!
On arrival in Denver I was placed in temporary housing barracks for work detail for my first two weeks. All new Airman there for schooling were to work for two weeks doing all type of base chores such as KP duty, Maintenance, and other work details as needed to maintain the base. I hated KP duty and found out that there was a real groovy job keeping the coal burning furnaces going in the basement of the barracks. I was able to get the job because another Private recommended me. It did not last long. It was so easy that I was unable to achieve the job though? Well one night I forgot to refill the furnaces with coal and the fire had gone out, the barracks had gotten cold and my officer got hot with me, I was then placed on KP duty. After my two weeks were up I spent the next 10 weeks in schooling learning the job I had been assigned to.
After finishing at Lowery AFB in Denver I was sent to Salina Kansas to a base called Smoky Hills AFB later renamed Schilling AFB. I spent about a year in Salina, Kansas. It was here I met a young Lady by the name of Joy Seagrove. It was at a square dance and I had gone with a friend named Jenny who had befriended me and loved to have me over to her home. We had known each other for sometime when she mentioned there was a dance at the local school. It was there that I met Joy. Joy and I somehow clicked when we saw each other and I danced with her several dances and I forgot that I had brought Jenny to the dance. Finally I broke away and took Jenny home. On the way home I told her I really like Joy and we talked a lot about what she knew about her. Joy and I began to date and it was not long before we were engaged. But my engagement ended when I received orders to go overseas to England. I had forgotten that I had signed a form listing that I would like to serve over seas and when I received the orders it was too late to rescind them.
After being allowed a time of leave I traveled to New York where I was placed on a Air transport to Mildenhall, England. On the way the flight had to lay over in Gander, Newfoundland till the weather had cleared in the UK. It had been fogged in. The flight with the lay over took us about 30 hours and when we landed at Mildenhall the first thing we wanted to do was to eat breakfast and have a good old cup of coffee. I went to the chow hall and got my coffee cup , saw a large urn and poured a cup. I went back to my table and began to take a long drink of coffee oops it was not coffee it was tea. Well I finally found out it was tea. It tasted horrible. Now I was use to drinking tea but not hot tea. It put me off of hot tea for the rest of my life. Even today I will only drink hot tea to be hospitable.
After our meal we were loaded up in a bus and made our journey to Chelveston AFB England. As we arrived we noticed that they had Quonset huts for barracks. About 24 men slept in a large Quonset hut. We had double bunk beds, a footlocker, and a metal closet. It was not long before I learned to hate sleeping with 23 other men. They were from all kind of walks in life and some were ok but some were horrible. They would come in drunk, cursing, screaming abuse, and some would even wet on the floor instead of walking across to the Latrine building. It was a mess. I tried to stay away from the barracks as much as I could. I would go to the library a lot and it was there I met Anne Gregory. She was one of the librarians there on base. She was quiet pretty and quiet nice to talk to. A lot of the other Airmen fell over themselves when they saw her. I became friends with her and asked if she would like to go out with me. Well she then told me she was engaged to marry a Scotsman that was in the British forces. She did get to like me as a friend and one day she told me she had told her sister about me and wanted to know if I would like to meet her. Well guess if I did or not ? I did ! We agreed to meet in Wellingborough England where she lived. It was about 8 miles from the base. She would meet me at the end of the bus route downtown. I was to be in uniform and stand on the corner and wait for her.I was not told at the time that she would be on the bus and that she would know me by my uniform and that if she did not fancy me she would stay on the bus and keep going. Well as it happens she got off the bus and our romance began. At the time that I met Carol I was temporarily assigned to the Air Police Squadron. As the base was short on Air Policemen and we had only one aircraft which was a gooney bird used for transport the need for Special weapons specialist was not needed. The most we did was clean the weapon supply buildings and go to another base for our training on real combat aircraft. We did get some excitement when we would have an alert especially when the Suez canal problem arose. I remember one alert we had when we were given weapons to guard the bomb dump. I had a great friend by the name of Frederick McElroy who I worked with. When the alert began He and I were deployed to guard the munitions storage area which we referred to as the bomb dump. All of us were loaded up and dropped at various locations around the Munitions area and were given live ammunition. The area was really eerie and quiet. Any noise would cause you to jump. We were so far away from the main part of the base as we could be that even the sounds around the base and the lighting were lost. Around 2 AM in the morning the quietness was suddenly broken when all of a sudden I heard banging and shouting. I cocked my carbine and was ready for something to happen, someone to appear, maybe a shot to be fired. It scared me to death. I don’t know if I wet myself or not but I was shaking like a leaf in a breeze. I hid myself and began to look everywhere I could to find where the source was coming from. Nothing ! The next morning when we were relieved I asked McElroy if he had heard the racket He then looked at me and said yeah I did it, it was too durn quite and I just had to have some noise. Well I never admitted to him how scared he had made me. After the Suez Canal alert ended McElroy and I along with two other Munitions Specialist continued to work as Air Policemen. I loved the work and I got along real well with the Sergeant that was in charge. McElroy and I both was well thought of as APs and we were asked to work the front gates which was a real upgrade from guarding the bomb dump. We had to wear our military best for front gate duty when we were on days and our fatigues at other shifts. At the time we were both Airmen second class which was 2 stripes. Both of us were really wanting to be promoted to buck sergeant
Carol and I had been dating for about a month and on one of our dates I proposed to her in the park down near the canal by the flour mill in Wellingborough. I was shocked when she said yes. She told me I had to ask her dad and after making my request he finally gave his permission. There were many times when I was on AP duty that I would have a jeep and when I had to work on weekends I would drive into Wellingborough and see her. We would sit in the jeep and talk then I would drive back to base hoping no one would know what I was doing. Our excuse was we were making a check of the town. My friend McElroy was married and many times we would go by his house and then I would go by and see Carol. Since McElroy was married and lived in Wellingborough, he would travel back and forth to work riding with the First Sergeant of our supply Squadron. He also was the one that made the final decisions on who would be promoted. There would be times I would go to the front gate and hitch a ride into Wellingborough to meet Carol and would get a ride with them. Promotion time was soon coming and the Air Police Sergeant told me that he had been instructed to send one of our names from the Supply Squadron in EWQ to be promoted. EWQ? Exceptionally well Qualified. In the Air Force at this time there were 3 ways to be sent in for promotion, EWQ,QBD, Qualified beyond doubt, and Q which was just qualified. Soon after he had let us know this I was hitching a ride and was picked up again by them. I asked the first Sergeant about the promotion chances for whoever was sent in and he let me know that they would be promoted. A few weeks later I found out that I was named and I was really looking forward to getting the promotion. I was given a ride again by the Top shirt and when I asked him what the chances were of the person being promoted, he shook his head and said well he did not think they would make it. He had found out that they had sent my name in EWQ and it was obvious that he thought they would name McElroy. Well I did not get my promotion and after a few months Our tenure with Air Police ended and we were sent back to work in our field as Special weapons specialist. Three months later when promotion time came around again McElroy was promoted to Airman 1st Class. It was a great disappointment for me and caused me to become bitter with the Air Force, but in spite of this event I still held my friendship with McElroy. After returning to the supply unit McElroy received a new job. It was called petty purchasing. The USAF gave us money to use to make petty purchases with. I would work it one day and McElroy the next. It was during this time that Carol and I had to obtain permission from the government to get married. When I asked for permission I was informed that I had to meet the qualifications. These included a special back ground check on Carol asI held a Top Secret clearance since I worked with Special weapons which included Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs. Just before we applied I teased Carol about the investigation and also the physical that she would have to have. She was scared to death. I asked her if she had a criminal record and she thought about it and said well she had been caught pinching an apple once. I asked her Carol what do you mean you pinched an apple? She said that meant she took one which was another English word for stole in the minor sense kind of like fib is to lie. Carol did they put you in jail? She pondered this for a second or two then said no but the Bobby (Policeman) wrote my name in his black book. When I mentioned she would have to have a physical check up she let me know she was scared of what the physical would be and if she could pass it. I looked her into her brown eyes and asked her, Do you ever wake up in the morning and look at your tongue and it looked whitish. She said yes. I said that’s a disease and you might fell the physical. When she found out I was having her on she really let me have it. Well she passed all the requirements and finally we received clearance that we could proceed with getting married. I then found out that I was required to have $ 300.00 dollars in the bank or in my possession for me to pay her way to the USA when I returned. Well $300.00 dollars was a lot of money in 1957. I did not have it but I knew who did. Petty purchase! Well I made an appointment to go to the headquarters adjutant and show him the money on a day that I thought I was scheduled to have the petty purchase money. Yes you guessed it right a problem arose with me not having petty purchase on the day scheduled. There was only one thing to do, have my friend to meet me at headquarters and let me have the money. I would take it in show it to the adjutant and then take it back to McElroy. That’s exactly whatI did and surprisingly it worked well.
On September 14, 1957 Carol Ann Gregory and I were wed in Wellingborough England. After we were married we rented a caravan (mobile home) and later were able to rent a house. During this time we had a lot of friends and everything seemed to go well for us. Carol turned out to be a great wife and I wish I could say the same about who she got for a husband. Soon after we were married and moved into our home Carol let me know she was expecting. I was really excited about the prospects of her having our first baby. I remember the night well when she gave birth. It was in September and the weather was foul. Fog was everywhere. On the 14th of September in the early hours her pains began and I found myself carrying her to the hospital. In those days you were not allowed to stay in the birthing area and you never knew how long it would take. Later that day I was informed that we had a baby girl and we named her Debra Ann. It did not take long to find out that Carol would make a great mother for our kids. She also found out that I would let her. Carol and Debra stayed in the hospital for 10 days and finally she was released to come home. I remember the first week or so what it is like to have a new born baby. Babies have a tendency to stay awake during the night and cry. Well one night we had gotten Debra asleep and went to bed. About 1 or 2 AM she woke us up crying and the good husband being awaken from a very sound sleep hollered shut up. Well Carol let me know what she thought about me screaming out like that. She got up and got her back to sleep. After that one incident I never remember Debra crying out at night anymore. You could say she was a good baby in that way. Of course I was probably wrong for the way I did it according to Carol and today’s standard.
VI-END OF AIR FORCE CAREER
My enlistment was coming to an end and because I had not received my promotion the Air Force was offering a 3 month early release for those that wanted to leave the Air Force. I signed up for it and around March of 1959 I was returned to the USA. Carol was not able to be on the plane with me and we had to arrange for her to fly to New York and I would meet her there as Leguire AFB was nearby and that was where I was supposed to be discharged from. When I arrived at Leguire I found that they were flooded with Airmen getting discharged and were so overloaded that they were sending me on to Florida to be discharged at Eglin Air Force base near Fort Walton Beach. It was about 45 miles from my hometown of Pensacola. I had a problem though. Because I was not being discharged in New York I would not get my discharge pay until I was discharged in Florida. Without that I did not have the money to pay for Carol and the baby toget to Florida. I went to the Red Cross and the Air Force aidsociety and was turned down by both of them because I was being discharged and had no means of guaranteeing them repayment.
I was frantic when I found out I could get no help so I went around selling any valuable I had in order to get enough to cover their airfare. I was able to raise enough and we flew down to my mothers home in Pensacola Florida where we spent time until I could get discharged and find a job.
My brother in law had a car lot in Fort Walton Beach near the air base and when I went down for my discharge I looked him up and he offered me a job working in his car lot. For the next 3 months I would work for him and then I went to work for a Insurance firm called Conger Insurance company. I did well until I went on commission and then found we were unable to make it on what I was getting. Carol would baby sit when she could to make extra money and I would go down set pins at the bowling alley. I started looking for another job and finally was able to get back on as a truck driver with Sanders Frozen foods who I had worked for before my Air Force days. It did not pay that well but it did pay and I was able to keep a lot of the food that was returned from my delivery’s. In 1960 after taking tests for the US Post office and also for the Pensacola police department I received at the same time an invitation from both to go to work for them. I began to ponder which job I would take. The thought went across my mind as a mail carrier you will face going in yards all the time with bad dogs. As a policeman you might have to go in the same yard but at least you will have some protection besides a mail bag. I ended up taking the job with the Pensacola Police department. I became Officer George Duke badge number 40 on the force.
I-LEVITICUS GOD LOVES COPS ALSO
Leviticus was the book of the law and I thought it would be appropriate for me to call this part Leviticus as I was involved with the law and it’s enforcement.
After driving a truck since my honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force I chose to accept the offer to become a Police Officer for the Pensacola Police department. From the time I began my duties as a peace officer till I left the force so many things happened in my life. As I think on many of these events I realize how Gods hand had been upon my life. After being accepted into the Pensacola Police Department I started my training. After my training I started my first day as a Police Officer badge # 40.
My heart was beating fast as I took over in the driver position of the 1955 Ford police cruiser for the first time. My first day after the two weeks of classroom and pistol range classes and I am placed in a car with the Shift Captain who instructed me to do the driving. “Where would you like me to go, Sir. I asked him?” “ Just drive and I will let you know as we tour the area the captain said.” I knew that he could feel my trembling as I spoke because it showed in my voice.
After driving around the Pensacola area we were traveling west on Cervantes street when the call came in. Captain what’s your 10-20? Cervantes and Baylen he replied. Captain there’s a 10-33 at Palafox and Maxwell. 10-4 the Captain replied enroute. The captain looked at me ok let’s go. With a giant lump swelling up in my throat I slowly reached down and turned the red light and siren on. Ok here’s my chance to show him what I am made of entered my head and I stomped down on the accelerator making the turn from Cervantes street on to Palafox street as fast as I could and lo and behold in front of me just 3 blocks I saw the red light at the intersection! Yes I am a Policeman with an emergency and no red light was going to slow me down, with siren screaming and red light flashing I blasted through that light at 60 mph. The Captain slowly looked over at me and said, ” Duke we slow down at red lights and make sure the intersection before we go through it.” If it had been possible at that moment I would have hung my head down in shame but I kept my eyes on the road and said “Yes Sir.”
Arriving at the scene of the accident I noted a woman that had been rear ended another driver screaming out in agony. I ran up to her and asked her if I needed to call a ambulance? Moaning she looked at me and in a weak voice said noooo I should be able to get out of the car , just give me a moment. I turned around to the other driver and asked him to produce his drivers license and Insurance. He pulled out his drivers license and handed it to me and stated I do not have insurance! Suddenly the Lady in the rear ended vehicle leaped out of her car screaming, “You don’t have insurance? “ The sudden knowledge of his having no insurance healed her completely.
After calling for a wrecker, investigating the accident, clearing the intersection, and issuing my first ticket I got back into the patrol car and left the scene. On arrival back at police headquarters the Captain informed me that he was placing me with another officer for the rest of my shift.
Well now I am not driving any longer and the officer he has twinned me with is a man that speaks very little and when he does he speaks slowly. We were together less than an hour when we receive a call, “Disturbance at a West side bar.” We rapidly make our way over to the bar and I leap out of the car and rush inside. The bar tender comes over and speaks to us about a man who is drunk and abusive. I go over to the white male who he has pointed out and grab him by his arm pulling him toward the door. He begins to resist me and I grab him in a hold and my partner helps me get him outside. We handcuff the prisoner and place him in the back of the squad car and take him to the jail to be booked.
After we had completed booking the prisoner in, we went back to the patrol car and my partner looked at me and said slowly with a drawl, “Duke if you would like me to, I could tell you how to avoid a lot of resisting arrests? “ My reply was yes and slowly he began to inform me what I had done wrong and what to do to prevent most arrests to be done in a peaceful manner. “Duke when you make an arrest do not grab a person, as most people do not like someone to grab them even if it is a policeman. Just go up to them and gently touch them on the shoulder and tell them they are under arrest and would they come with you?, Normally 90% will come with you without resisting..” I looked at him and let him know I really appreciated his advice. I used that advice for the rest of my time on the Police Force and found that he was 100% accurate. In all of the arrests I made I only ever had two more that resisted.
After riding with a partner for a week and learning the routine my time for being in a patrol car came to an end, and I found out what it was to walk a beat. For the next week I was placed on foot patrol with a partner to break me in and show me the area and to meet businessmen and women on the areas where foot patrols were used. After the week was over then suddenly I found myself walking a beat solo.
On a Saturday night I was working the midnight shift and after our line up found that I was working the 5th and 6th beat which I considered a great beat. Dismissed from assembly we hopped on the paddy wagon to be dropped off on our assigned beats. As I downloaded my self off on my beat which was near Palafox and Gregory street I noticed a man in the back part of the Dodge used car lot looking at the cars. I thought to myself “It’s pretty late to be looking at cars and so I started toward him and as I approached him and realized that here was a man that had been a friend for many years that was wanted for car theft and theft. As I approached him he took one look at me and recognized me as some one he had known for a long time and was shocked that I was now a Police officer. At first he smiled at me and said Cliff I did not know you were a Policeman. I looked at him and said Munsey you are under arrest. I immediately placed the handcuffs on him and took him to the corner where I called in for someone to come pick him up. They were surprised at the PPD that I had made this type of arrest this soon after being placed on a beat. As I waited for the squad car to come pick him up I told Munsey you just made me a $ 100. he looked at me and asked How is that? I said Narvel White placed a reward on your arrest. Well guess what? Narvel had told me about his offer of the reward but when I tried to collect it the family of Munsey being related to Narvel placed pressure on him about the reward offer that he never paid me. There is nothing new under the sun is there?
THE TRIPLE A SCANDEL
I had not been on the force long and found out that there were ways to make a little extra money if you were working a wreck. One of my fellow officers informed me that there were Automobile wrecker companies that would pay you twenty five dollars if you called them to an accident scene and they were able to pick up one of the vehicles involved in the accident. When I was told this I thought wow that will be great and looked forward to being able to work my first accident. I soon found out that the only cops that made this money were the ones doing traffic patrol which was handled by the Motorcycle or squad car Patrolmen. Of course there was that hope that one day after I had been there and worked up to this type of duty I would be able to achieve these rewards. Well the desire was soon squashed one day when the Pensacola News Journal’s Morning newspaper screamed with the headlines AAA claims Pensacola Police was taking bribes and called it a wrecker payola scheme. That day when I went to work the Police department was abuzz with the news and who might be indicted for accepting bribes. The problem arose over some of the Police officers investigating the wreck and when a victim in the accident requested a particular Towing company the Officer would tell them that that company was not on the approved Wrecker list and would recommend another company that he knew would pay the fee. When I found out what was happening I knew that this had been the wrong thing to do. One by one the investigators sifted through the evidence given by the AAA and one by one we had Patrolman and Officers to resign. I remember one of the Captains that owned a gas station that I purchased gas from would run out and keep asking me what was going on at the station. He was always nervous as he asked about the situation. I later found out that he was one of the ones involved and that he had resigned from the force and was worried that he might also be charged with a criminal act. The worst part of all of this was the bad name that the department received as that hurt all the Policemen that were not involved.
CROOKED COPS & THE JEWELRY HEIST
My next big adventure was when one night they dropped me off in Brownsville for my shift. I was still a rookie at the time. Rookies always started off walking beats and Brownsville was where you would begin. I had had my turn in the downtown area of Pensacola and had gotten to know many of the business’s there but on the busy night’s when we had all of the men on duty I was still low man on the roster.. After getting out of the car I began to make my rounds of checking doors and any business that might be open. As I walked down the street I noticed that there was some activity upstairs off the street where several offices were. At the moment it did not seem of special concern because I had seen people at the office for Conger Insurance work late on prior occasions. I was tempted to go up but decided to continue my rounds of checking all the buildings first.
It was around 1:30 am when I came back to the area of the Insurance building. As I rounded the corner there was a red Pontiac convertible sitting on the street with the motor running. As I passed the car I noticed a young white male with blond hair sitting in the car. I thought to myself , he looks like old Jimmy that works the newsstand on Palafox street in downtown Pensacola. As I climbed up the stairs I thought I heard a horn blow. I reached the top of the stairs, found the door open, and proceeded down the hall. As I made a turn in the hallway and could seethe Insurance offices I noted there were no lights on. Almost instantly I heard doors open and the sound of running footsteps down the stairs behind me. I turned around and ran back to the first door just inside the hall and opened the door and there before me was torn out flooring all over the room. Tools lay on the floor. I realized that I had just foiled a Burglary in progress. I drew my gun and ran back down the stairs and on reaching the bottom of the stairs saw in the distance the red convertible peeling off. I had no radio to call in and ran to a pay telephone and called in the description and asked for Investigators to come to the scene. Well I felt confident that with the description I was able to give on the car and the white male that we would have them picked up at any moment. It didn’t happen!
Later the following week and after no arrests on the burglaryI related to the officer walking the downtown area what had happened, I told him that the man I saw driving the get away car looked just like Jimmy from the newsstand on Palafox and Garden street in downtown Pensacola, and that he was driving a red convertible Pontiac. He looked surprised and said I see that car almost nightly cruising down Palafox going to Trader Jon’s, He then explained to me that the driver was one of our Captain’s Nephew. I told him Pick him up call for me and Iwill come down and identify him. Well a week or so later I asked the officer again if he had seen the car anymore. He said Yes I picked him up and took him to the station but the Captain said Let him go, That’s Cocky Roche’s son and he would not be involved with something like a break in. I was shocked and asked who is Cocky Roche. He said that’s the Captains Brother. I knew the Captain in question and knew he was one of the most respected and Officers we had on the force. Feeling let down I began to try and figure out what I should do.
Well Bill Davis was the county Sheriff and I decided to call him and give him my information. I rang his office and gave my information to Bill personally. He then related to me that they had some knowledge that he was involved in a large Burglary ring in the area. Well about a week later I read the headlines Burglar ring smashed in Pensacola. Apparently after my call to the Sheriff they had placed a shadow on him and followed them to their next break in and nabbed the whole group. I felt real good that I had a part in it.
After the arrest had been made one of the Officers that worked with me on my shift told me that he had been at the Sheriff’s office when they had been picked up and he was able to speak to the leader of the gang. Henry Reeves looked at me and said you were very lucky that you had gone down the hall. The lookout man was standing behind the door with a sawed off shotgun waiting for you to enter the room. It would be years later before I would understand that God had really been looking out for me, and that God does indeed care for Cops. I know this for a fact because he looked over me all those years I was on the Police force. You see there were many instances where I could have been killed or hurt in a wreck but God was always there especially after I started seeking him.
CAPTURE OF PRISON ESCAPEES
After walking a beat for a year or so I was promoted to a one man patrol squad car and one day on the day watch I was patrolling and the radio dispatcher began to dispatch 2 cars to intercept a vehicle coming across the Pensacola bay bridge that was reported to have 2 white males in it that had escaped from a prison in central Florida. I was in the downtown area and thought to myself I bet they will be coming into the downtown area if the Officers dispatched might miss them at the bridge and if they did they could end up coming into the downtown area where I was patrolling. I headed towards a point where I felt in my gut they would be coming through. All of a sudden one of the dispatched officers reported on the radio that they were running from them and headed into the city. As I neared Gregory street I heard the sirens and realized they were not far away from where I was located and all of a sudden the car they were in passed me I got in on the chase. After many turns I noticed that they kept turning right every 2 blocks so during the chase I turned right 2 blocks short and felt like I could head them off by going down two blocks which took me back to Garden street. I was right and they were coming right toward me and headed down the wrong side of the street blocking their path. When they saw me they tried to evade me by turning into a field in the middle of the block but they did not know it but this was where the railroad shuttles freight cars and there were rail tracks that were quite high above the ground. I turned in behind them as they got hung up on the tracks. They jumped out of the car, started running and pulling up behind them I stopped, leapt out of my car and ordered them to stop then I fired a shot over their head. As soon as they heard me firing at them they stopped in their tracks and I ran over and placed handcuffs on them. Well as a result I received a reward for their capture and a commendation.
JIM JOINS THE FORCE
Before becoming a Police Officer I had a turn at trying to sell life and hospital insurance. I had worked at it for about 4 months and found that it was not my line of work. During the time though, I came in contact with Jim Billy Barnes who became a great friend of mine. Its strange how you come into contact with many people from different phases of life then there comes one that you seem to get on with more so than others and you begin to count them as your friend,
After I had been on the Police force for a number of years and trying to get Jim to join he suddenly decided he would try his hand at becoming a policeman. Well he was accepted and was sent to the Police Academy where all Policemen have to be trained. After his graduation from the Academy I don’t know how it happened, but when he came to work on the force he ended up on my shift and I was asked to train him. Further training consisted of his riding with an experienced officer for several weeks in a squad car then being placed on the walking beat till his seniority placed him back in a patrol car.
Well the first night that we were on the midnight shift we began to patrol the downtown area. Around 2:00 am after the streets had died down and the bars had closed we began checking alley’s behind some of the downtown business’s. There was onelong alley behind the major shops that you entered and drove a block and it turned right then the alley came to a dead end. When I entered the ally I noticed Jim was napping and when I made the right turn there before me were a pack of dogs snarling and into the garbage cans. I stuck my arm out the window, sped up the car, and began beating against the car as loud as I could screaming, there they are let’s get them. Jim Billy sprung up almost scared to death. Well I laughed afterwards but he did not find it very funny. Jim did well on the Police force and stayed on even after I left and eventually roseto be a Police Captain.
CAROL IS BORN AGAIN
I worked extra at the Saenger Movie Theatre on Saturday nights rotating with another Police friend of mine Ralph Harmon. I would go to work around 10:30 P.M. and work till the Midnight movie had finished and everyone had left. During all of these years morally I had not been a very good person and was very wild. There was something inside of me that was not good. I had a weakness and I constantly was in sin. I loved my wife Carol very much which I have to this day. Carol was a very loving wife and a excellent mother. One of our worse disagreements was on how I believed in punishing unruliness in the kids. She felt like I went to far in correcting them in the manner that I did. Of course that was the way I was raised and I followed in that trend. We could have some bad disagreements which made me angry and when she tried to stop me when I was getting onto one of the Kids, she may not have realized it but it made me more hostile in my actions of punishment. We had a lot of problems and the worse I became the more I mistreated her. I still wonder why she stayed with me. The only reason I can think of was she must have loved me a lot.
When we first came to the USA I took her to a Pentecostal church and after the service was over on the way home Carol looked at me and said I will never go back to one of those churches. Well at that time I was not eager about living the Christian life so I did not say anything. Many years later Carol would began searching for God and it indeed brought her back to the church she said she never wanted to go back too. In her quest she met with all different types of religions. Jehovah witnesses, Mormons, Seventh day Adventists, Baptist, on and on she searched. One day on a Sunday I came in from work and when I entered the house she was there with tears in her eyes. She looked at me and said we are going to church tonight. I looked at her and asked what’s wrong with you? She then related how she had gone back to one of those Pentecostal Churches and I felt something I never felt before! She had gone to Brother D. L. Welch’s church and there God had moved upon her life. She told me again we are going to church tonight. I looked at her and said I do not know Brother Welch that much but we can go to Bob Glass’s church. That night we attended the service and at the end of the sermon tears were flowing down both of our faces. I looked over at her and she looked at me and she said lets go down to the alter. I folded my arms and bowed my head and a little voice spoke to me and asked what would the other Policemen think of you if they saw you now? I opened my eyes and told Carol no, I am not going down there. She then stepped into the aisle and went to the front. I kept standing there and in just a few minutes a man came rushing to me crying out Guess what? I asked What? She just got the Holy Ghost. I said in a sarcastic manner Is that right? Well I did not know what the Holy Ghost was at that time. There was one fact though I saw a new and different wife in my life. The baptism of the Holy Spirit really altered Carol’s life. The weird thing was Carol really did not know what had happened to her. Three days later she called up my sister Dorothy and told her Dot you know what happened to me the other night? Dot said yes you received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Carol said well I am still doing it! Carol had received the Holy Ghost baptism and spoke in tongues as the Spirit gave the utterance and did not understand it? After this wonderful thing happened in her life something else happened that was for the bad and not for her good. I became worse to her telling her I was not going back to church and if the Preacher wanted her there he could come pick her up. She grew in the Lord and I turned him off in my life. The great thing was Carol kept praying for me and believing that one day I would turn to God and we would have a good Christ like life together. Carol prayed and prayed for me.
VOICE OF GOD SPEAKS TO ME
It was on one of those work nights that I was getting ready for work at the theatre when Carol began praying for me. All of a sudden the Spirit of God spoke to me and I heard God telling me I needed to get into church. I had never had the Lord to speak to me in this manner and it scared me to death. Instantly I fell down on my knees and began to ask God to forgive me of my sins. I told God if he would forgive me I would live for him. I prayed for some time and got up and called the Theatre and told them I would not be able to work that night. They asked me why> I said I can not tell you why but I just can not work there tonight. The next day was Sunday and off to church I went with a delighted Carol and children. After this voice of God experience I never missed church unless I had duty. What Carol received the first night I had to seek for month’s. After my quest for the Holy Spirit baptism I had many things to occur in my life that I am thankful for. Many times if God had not intervened in my life I would not be alive today. God is so very real.
A REAL MIRACLE
One Saturday night after I had began to go to church and live for the Lord I was cruising down West Cervantes street on patrol duty and as I approached the lights at A street, a car stopped for the red signal on A street suddenly ran the red light. It was a small MG and I immediately began a pursuit after him. Thoughts began to rush through my mind as to why he had ran the light. My conclusion was, he must be wanted for some criminal offense and when he saw me he took off. As I began to pursue him he began to hit high speeds of 80-100 MPH The chase at high speeds and fast turns eventually led us to Cervantes and A Street, His small Mg would pull away from me on the turns but in the high speed dodge I was driving I would gain on him on the straight run. E street was down hill and as I started to gain on him again doing around 80 mph suddenly at the bottom of the hill he made a left turn. I also started making the turn and suddenly I lost control of the car, When my car lost control I remember closing my eyes and throwing my hand up in the air and cried out to the Lord, Jesus help me. All I heard was squealing of tires and the rear end of my car swinging around. When I cried out to the Lord all of a sudden the car straightened up, I opened my eyes and to my surprise I was still in the pursuit. One block away he tried to make another turn but the sand in the road caused him to lose control and he hit a fence and ended up in the yard of a home owner.
I got out of the car with my weapon drawn and had him to allow me to cuff him. I then asked him why in the world was you running from me? His reply I ran the red light then saw you after me. On further criminal checks indeed that was all he had done.
After what God had done for me there was only one thing I could do. Sunday came and I was in church seeking for the baptism of the Holy Spirit and thanking God for saving my life. Truly God did love this cop!
After God filled me with his Spirit I began to pray and serve him and attempt to tell everyone about his Spirit and what I had felt when he filled me with the Holy Ghost. It was so fantastic what had happened to me that night God filled me. Earlier in the day my brother Bob had telephoned me and asked me to go to Montgomery, Alabama with him. I told him Bob I would love to go but our church is in revival and I believe that I will get the Holy Ghost tonight. Any other time I would have loved to have gone with him because i looked up to him. Bob was a Newspaper reporter and had done really well. He had worked at the Mobile Press Register for a long time and had a great reputation as a reporter. He had been in Mobile, Alabama when Jeanne Dixon had come and made a prediction of the death of Robert Kennedy. Ruth Montgomery in her book on Jeanne Dixon speaks about reading the article and lists Bobs name as her reference. I looked up to Bob but he was a skeptic on receiving the Holy Ghost. He believed in God healing power though and his miracles but not people receiving the Baptism of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues as the Spirit gave the utterance. Well I did not go with Bob and that night God did fill me with the bible experience of the Holy Ghost. i was drunk on the Spirit and when I came around and looked up Bob was there in the church watching me get it. I got up walked over to him and said Bob guess what I got it? He looked funny at me and said You did? That look on his face has always remained with me.
But there I was a born again Christian filled with the Holy Ghost and baptized in Jesus name.
CALL OF GOD TO THE MINISTRY
After being filled with the Holy Spirit I was so thrilled with what God had done for me that I could not meet anyone without telling them about Jesus Christ and what he had done for me This included all my Police friends and even the peopleI stopped or arrested. There were many events where I wouldfeel led to witness to someone when I was questioning and would share my testimony with them. One day I saw a known hooker standing on the sidewalk looking for a client and I stopped his was not one isolated event but I also became aware
that when I shared my experience with people they would be touched. I fully believe that God is with us when we witness our faith and share our testimony. Their reaction many times was not precisely what I would have wanted it to be. Some would weep and many would become angry. After some months of witnessing to other Police friends I began to notice that they started avoiding me. Many times as I drove up to speak with them they would quickly drive away. Being a novice we many times do not have the wisdom and we run people off because we come on too hard. One night on the swing shift I was paired with another Officer in a two man squad car and was talking to him about Jesus Christ, all of a sudden he stopped me and said if you can quote to me all the ten commandments’ I might listen to you but if you can’t then shut up. I had not been in church long enough to remember all of them so I decided to shut up.
I had another real visitation from the Lord one afternoon when I came in from work. I was really tired and fell down on the bed exhausted after a long hard shift. I instantly drifted off into a slumber and all of a sudden I had a vision. In the vision I saw myself preaching a sermon and was standing behind the pulpit. Not only could I see the vision but I could hear myself preaching the sermon. I suddenly woke up and was so moved by what had happened that I fell down by the side of my bed and began to pray. I was shaking and I asked God if this was a sign of him wanting me to preach to have someone to ask me. The very next day Carl Kesling the youth leader in the church called me and said Brother Duke I want you to preach a sermon on Friday night. On Friday night I was able to get Tom Donnelly one of my Brothers closest friends to come to the meeting. Tom was a backslidden preacher and had been out of church for a long time. I had been trying to get him back to the Lord and he had consented to come because he wanted to hear me preach. My sermon was exactly what I had seen in the vision taken from Genesis Chapter 2 verses 16 & 17. I titled it “A sin unto death”. That scripture reads Genesis 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. There was a great move of the Spirit and Tom came down to the altar and prayed until God had touched him. Later he told me that as he listened, it appeared that I had been preaching for many years. Well that gave me big lift and I had my pride lifted up to a great measure so much so that when I was asked again to preach God let me do it all by myself. Yes, that’s right I did not do so well and that one appeared to be more like my first time to preach.
Keeping on fire for God is a great responsibility after God fills us with his Spirit. It’s similar to making sure your automobile does not run out of gas. You must continue to go back and refill your temple with his Spirit. If you don’t you find the Spiritual needle reads empty and this leaves us vulnerable for the enemy to overcome us. Satan desires us with a passion after we have received the new birth. Normally people are no threat to him as long as they are still his followers. Even though I know that and every child of God knows it we still allow our humanity to hinder us from walking in his Spirit continually. That’s why we have to be in Church and be fed with the bread of life and be refilled with the power of the Holy Spirit.
After God called me to preach, I had a burning desire to minister, the problem was where? Pastor Robert Glass allowed me to teach the junior boy’s class and instead of teaching I found myself more preaching to them. I remember a reddish haired young boy that came some times and I noted when he was there the Lord’s presence was all over him. His name was Eddie Johnson. I kept encouraging Eddie to come regular but one day he admitted that his Father did not like him coming. Carol and I went over to meet his family and told them how much we appreciated them letting Eddie attend church. After this Eddie came more often and later he was filled with the Holy Ghost and baptized in the wonderful name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission oif his sins.
I really wanted to preach behind the pulpit but I found that most churches would not use someone they did not know, others did not use young Ministers ( Novices ) that were just beginning. So I found it hard to find somewhere to preach behind the pulpit. The only other place I could utilize this fire burning desire within my Soul was personal Evangelization. Later though I found out that Tom Donnelly’s mother was overseer of a old peoples home, so I asked her to allow us to come on Sunday afternoons to sing and speak to the residents there. She gave me permission and we would get a group of young people from the church and have services there.
One day I came into contact with a Armored car driver by the name of Homer Thomas. I started to witness to him and he suddenly surprised me by telling me he also had received the same experience as I. I found out he was starting a new church in Warrington and was holding meetings there in his garage. He invited me to come and speak for him. Later after visiting him a few times I found out that he was building a church building. For the next few years that is where I was able to Minister behind the pulpit.
At the time I came into the Church I was living on Maxwell Street in Pensacola, Florida. There was a family that we spoke to that lived in the house behind us that we became friendly with. One day they mentioned that they had a relative coming to live with them. Her name was Joyce Taylor and soon after Joyce moved in with them I met her and began to tell her about the wonderful infilling of the Holy Ghost I had received. She wanted to go to church with us and there at the church God touched her and filled her with his Spirit also. Joyce got baptized in Jesus name and we really rejoiced that we now had a neighbor that we had won to the Lord.
One day I attended church and happened to see a world map on the bulletin board at our church. It was a foreign missions map. I remember as I looked it over all of a sudden my eyes fell on the British Isles. Tears began to flood my eyes and I felt the Spirit of God speaking to me about reaching that nation with the full gospel message. I remember after that my telling Pastor Glass that God had called me to preach. I remember he chuckled and asked and Brother Duke where are you called to preach to? I instantly replied the British Isles. He stopped chuckling and looked at me and said no more, but from that day forward I began to plan to go to England and Minister. All I could think about was when I asked Carol my wife is she had ever heard of a Pentecostal Church and she had said No I have never heard of anything like that.
Tom Donnelly and I many times would get together and discuss scripture. One of our major disagreements had been on the Godhead. Tom believed there are three people in the Godhead and my church taught there was only one person in the Godhead and that person was Jesus Christ. Tom would convince me he was correct and I would start to think that he might be correct then when I went back to church and heard the teaching there on the Godhead I would feel that they were correct. I was really in a dilemma in regards to this so I began to pray and ask God to reveal to me what was truth in regards to this teaching? One day after my praying and asking God to reveal the truth to me we gathered to have dinner in my home. We always prayed before we dined and I remember so vividly bowing my head and suddenly a quiet voice spoke to me. What is my name? I instantly knew it was Jesus speaking to me and I spoke out Jesus. The voice spoke again and said Gods all around the world have a name, what is my name? I again cried out Jesus. All of a sudden it became clear to me Jesus is the only God. The scripture Colossians 2:9For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. From that day forward I have never doubted that Jesus Christ is the embodiment of the creator. I love that song “It’s all in him”.
Since that day that God opened up the illumination of this great revelation, the more I have studied about it and the more I am positive that there is only one God, that he is manifest in creation as the Father, became embodied in human flesh as the son of God, and is the Holy Spirit that dwells in us when we are filled with his Spirit. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost all in one person. Since we have been made in his likeness and image we also are three in one Body, Soul, and Spirit, and can hold titles such as Father or Mother, son or daughter, and whatever worker we are. Fact is there is and never will be any other God other than Jesus Christ. The scriptures are so plain in these regards. Isaiah 9: 6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 43:10Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. 11I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour. Job 13: 8 Will ye accept his person? will ye contend for God? 9 Is it good that he should search you out? or as one man mocketh another, do ye so mock him? 10 He will surely reprove you, if ye do secretly accept persons. Malachi 3:1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.
John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. Colossians 2:9For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
The above scriptures do not even start to tell the story about who Jesus is. The whole bible is about him who is the head of all principality and power. After receiving this from God I began to share it with others. Most people are so steeped in tradition that they are not open to the baptism of the Holy Ghost, Baptism in Jesus name, nor the revelation of who Jesus Christ really is and when one attempts to open their understanding many reject not only the message but also the messenger. The one that knows and tries to share begins to fully understand what Jesus was speaking about in
Luke 21:17And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.
Well after I shared with Tom all that God had revealed to me God opened up his heart and he was baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of his sins.
The burden of God became so over powering in my heart that I had to go to England and share the full gospel of Jesus Christ. At this time I notified my employer that I would be leaving and soon Carol and I and the kids were driving up to New York to catch a charter flight to the British Isles.
V-MIRACLES BEYOND BELIEF
When we arrived in the UK in June 1966, we were to stay with my wife’s family as it had been around eight years that we had been away from them. They had assured Carol that they had plenty of room and would like for us to stay the whole time we were there with them. Since we had limited money and a return ticket that did not allow us to return till September we felt this would workout well because of finances and we would give them some money to help pay the bills. Well everything went well for awhile till they found out that we had got religion. It was not very long after they realized we had changed that they asked us to leave. There we were Myself, Carol, and our four children who they asked to leave and we suddenly realized we had no where to go to. Well we knew who could help us so we headed toward London to see if the missionary there would put us up. I stopped on the way, telephoned him and related my dilemma. He very quickly let me know I needed to find somewhere in the area where I was, a hotel or abed and breakfast to stay in. I am sure he was not wanting a family of six to suddenly drop in on him. Well we found a B&B and it was not very long before I began running low on funds. I had placed an ad in the paper asking for someone to rent us a house. I remember a man coming to the B&B and let us know that he had a house in Rushden that he wanted to rent. Well we barely had enough money to put down on the rent and quickly moved into the house. There was just one problem! We had no more money, I had a passport that said I could not work, and we were out of money.
Well God does know how to take care of his own. Pastor Robert Glass heard that we were in a dilemma and took up an offering in his church and sent it to us. Carol saw where alady wanted someone to clean house and she was able to make a little cleaning house. There was a shop just up the street from where we were living that allowed us credit.
When I first entered the UK immigration had placed a stamp on my passport stating I could not work in the UK paid or unpaid. So after settling in I had wrote to the British Immigration and asked them for permission to work unpaid as I wanted to be able to preach if anyone asked me while I was in the country. They had sent me a form to fill out and i sent them a copy of our wedding certificate and a copy of Carol’s birth certificate. I did not know it at the time but that would eventually be what God would use to deliver us. After a few weeks all money dried up,the shop was asking for payment, the rent was due. Things had gotten so bad for us that the man who rented us the home had planted potatoes in the back garden and I was digging them up where we could have something to eat. We prayed and asked God to help us but things seemed to just get worse and worse. One nightour baby Rebecca who was still on the bottled milk began to cry to be fed. The problem was we had ran out of milk for her andI had nowhere to go. Also potatoes does not substitute for milk. Hearing her cry caused me to get down on my knees and pray like I had never prayed before. I began to cry out to God and weep at his feet. I remember that night and Rebecca going to sleep crying wanting to be fed. Well the next morning when we got up I looked down on the floor inside the front door and there was a letter from Carol’s Grandmother. She opened it up and out dropped a 10 shilling note. Leaping with joy we ran to the shop and got milk for our baby.
SECOND MIRACLE YANKEE BUS CONDUCTOR
But that was not the only miracle, later in the day the postmancame again and dropped a letter in the mail slot. I looked down on the floor and picked up the letter. It was from the British Immigration department. I opened it up and lo and behold theyhad given me permission to be able to work in any capacity that I wanted to. I ran and got the newspaper and looked at the ads for employment. I instantly saw where the United Counties Buscompany needed bus conductors. I headed for their office and filled out a application. After filling out the application I was told to report to work the next day. The next morning I was in a class room learning how to do bus conductor work. After the schooling I was placed with an Irish bus conductor who they called Paddy. He took me with him to show me the ropes on how to work the ticket maker and how to determine fares on the routes. I remember one night we got to the end of a route and he and the driver was going to the pub for a break. He asked me Duke would you care for a drink with us. I at that time would not go to a pub but I did not want to tell him that so I said No I better stay here and look through the book to learn more about the fare structure. I remember after a few times of his inviting me to go out for a drink and my refusals suddenly one day he looked at me and said Duke I take it you are a Christian man. I said Yes Paddy I have had a most wonderful experience in Jesus Christ. I was able to share with him that experience.
After taking on the bus conductor job and being able to pay the bills Carol and I opened up our home for prayer meetings. Also we began to run an ad in the local newspaper inviting people to come and join us.
CONFERENCE IN GERMANY
I remember Brother Miller letting me know about a church conference in Germany and now that I had some money coming in I was able to join with them in traveling over to the conference. It was a great time. On the train I had met Pastor Charlie Price who had a small work going in London where he reached out to the poor. He would invite the down and out to his Gospel meeting and then feed them after the meeting. Charles played the accordion and I told Charles why don’t we give out some leaflets when the train stops at the stations along the way. Well we asked Brother Miller and there were a few Gospel tracts that he had. When we would stop Charlie on his accordion would play and we all would sing gospel songs. Charlie did not play really great and we probably did not sound all that good singing but we had a lot of people to gather to listen to us while the train was stopped at the station. Even though we sang in English and they spoke German they still seemed to enjoy the music and singing. I really think they were great connoisseurs of music don’t you? I do not know if we did any good but God knows.
The conference was great, I met a German young man by the name of Werner Johannsen. He, I, and Charles got together at the conference and made a trio and sang Give me that ole time religion.
After the conference was over we traveled back to England. On the way back Brother Charles and I spoke about our prayer meeting we were having in our home. He let me know that he would be willing to come up and help us out if I would like. About a week later Brother Price came and also brought a black Brother with him. We all got together, prayed, and went out door knocking. Carol would take the baby buggy with her pushing Rebecca and we all would knock on doors and if no one answered we would drop leaflets in the mail slot inviting them to come to our prayer meetings.
SISTER BARKER RAISED FROM THE DEAD
There was a hall located across from the bus depot and we rented it and decided to have some meetings there to see if we could get people in. When we had our first service we had a lady to come with another couple that we found out was the Barker family. They let us know that they had received a leaflet and had wanted to come to our prayer meeting at our house but when they would get to our door they would keep going rather than coming in. Now that they saw we had the hall they wanted to find out what we were like. I remember all of us singing and me preaching and when I gave the altar call Brother and Sister Barker came to the front. Brother Barker would pray for a little while and stop. Sister Barker though would pray and pray. I remember her praying and she got really close to receiving the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. Everyone got rally excited when she began to have stammering lips. I was there praying with her when all of a sudden she collapsed on the floor. She fell and you could hear the bang when she hit the floor. I looked down at her and she did not move. I dropped down beside her and realized something was desperately wrong. I felt for a pulse and there was none. I checked her heart and could feel no heart beat. I tried to see if she was breathing and could not find any sign of breathing. I looked at Brother Barker and said Brother Barker she’s not breathing. He was terrified and said Pastor Duke she has a bad heart and was only given a month to live about two months ago. I began to pray and ask God over and over again Lord what am I going to do? What am I going to do? Thoughts begin to rush through my mind. What will I tell the Police when they come? That she was praying for the Holy Spirit and just fell over and died? That thought scared me more. I said Lord this will hurt your cause when I tell them this, I said what shall I do what shall I do? All of a sudden his voice spoke to me and said lay your hand on her and pray for her. I did and when I said in Jesus name she shot up off the floor began to praise the Lord and then began to speak in tongues as the Spirit of God gave the utterance. To God be the Glory.
When I saw her receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost I remembered Luke writing of the Gentiles receiving it in Acts 10:45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.
Well When Sister Barker came up off of that floor speaking in tongues a glow set upon her countenance that radiated throughout the hall. Brother Barker’s eyes grew larger and looked like they were bulging out of their socket as he kept going round and round her as she worshipped the Lord in the Spirit. He looked over at me and he said I want that! After the service had ended that night he came up to me again and related his desire to have that wonderful experience his wife had received. He said I am going to get it on Wednesday night.
When Wednesday night came I remember him coming over to our house for the prayer meeting. He walked in the front door headed for the room we used to pray in, dropped on his knees and began to pray. To my astonishment he almost instantly began to speak in tongues. I saw him I heard him but as I prayed with him I felt nothing from the Spirit. I looked over at Carol and with a questioning look asked her if she could feel anything. She shook her head and said no? I let him go on and on speaking in tongues and finally he stopped, looked up at me and grinned a big look like he was saying I got it. I looked down at him and the Spirit seemed to speak through me and asked, Brother Barker do you know another language? The grin faded, he dropped his head down and shook it for a yes. I asked him, what language do you speak? He replied I was speaking Arabic. I said Brother Barker that’s not the Holy Ghost! When you receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost you speak in a tongue you have never known as the Spirit gives the utterance. That is as the Spirit speaks through you. He was so embarrassed that he got up, we prayed for him and he went home. Well the good news is he did in the coming weeks receive the real genuine experience of the Holy Ghost. God is great!
After Brother and Sister Barker received the Holy Ghost they began going out on visitation with us. They also invited friends to come and be with us in the meetings on Sunday. Brother Charles worked with us for a few weeks and then he left to return to London. That left us without a musician and it was the week after he left that we had our Sunday service in the hall. Just before we were to start the service a lady walked in and we met her at the door. We soon found that she played the piano. I ushered her to the piano and asked her to play for our meeting as we had no musician. She sit down and I started the survive. We had a great time singing, worshipping and praising the Lord. The Spirit of God was very strong that night in the service. At the end of the service after I had preached my sermon I noticed that she had left very quickly without saying goodbye. I thought that she had not enjoyed the service. Well after closing the building we walked home and lo and behold there in front of the house was standing the piano player with her daughter. She quickly related to me that in the meeting as she played the piano she felt God moving all over her. She had felt tingling and shivers running up and down her spine and arms. She said I could not wait to run home and tell my daughter and to bring her over here where you can pray for her. Apparently her daughter had been ill for a long time and could not find any relief. We prayed for her and God really touched her in a mighty way bringing healing to her and delivering her at the same time. To Jesus our God be the glory.
RETURN TO THE USA
I was unable to stay in the U.K. after my plane ticket and my 90 day visa expired. I had been granted permission by the government to work after a long delay and worked as a bus conductor on the double Decker busses while having meetings in Rushden, Northamptonshire. God had blessed us but now I was to return to the USA. We did try and to remain in England. I contacted Brother Mervyn Miller and he and the UPC representative came to visit with us. After I explained my burden and desire to them they told me that the best thing for me to do was to return to the USA, enter bible school and get some experience in the work of God enabling me to get a missionary appointment. I l remember looking at them and telling them that I felt like this was the best thing to do also. I promised them as soon as I got back I would follow their instructions. Sadly we turned the work over to the missionary there in the UK and left to return to New York.
Arriving back in New York we picked up our car and began the long journey driving back to Florida. Our car had set up for the three months that we had been away and after driving for about 200 miles I heard a bang and it began to smoke. We prayed all the way back to Florida for it to make it. Well it did but it emitted Holy Smoke all the way. People would laugh as they passed us chugging along with smoke coming out the tail pipe, Some would turn on their windshield wipers and wave their hands back and forth in front of their face as they went by.
Returning to Florida I now had no job and our Pastor Robert Glass put us up in the Evangelist quarters in the church. We stayed there for some number of weeks until I was able to afford a house. I wound up working with Rev Billy Adams in the wholesale car business. Later I opened up a car lot near the home that I rented. Instead of doing what I had promised by enrolling in bible college I had done my own thing. Well I found out that when you are a called of God individual and you do not obey what God has shown you then nothing is going to go right for you. Nothing went right and after 2 attempts to do a business I came to the end of my road. I remember going to my mothers house to eat with her and all of sudden in her living room God spoke to me again about going to bible school. I had picked upa church magazine and there on the front page was an article on the bible school in Texas. The Spirit moved upon me and with tears in my eyes I looked at Carol and said we are out of the will of God. She looked at me and said I know! I said if we are right I will call the bible college and will be able to enroll. I called and they told me I had just a few more days to enroll. After going to the VA to fill out papers for my G.I. bill for college the next day I loaded up my car and headed for Houston, Texas to enroll in Texas Bible College.
I arrived in Houston, found a room at the local YMCA and began looking for a job. Finally I found one working at a filling station pumping gas. I enrolled in bible school, worked at the filling station, and as soon as I had enough money I went back and got Carol and the kids and brought them to Houston. We loaded everything in that car. On top was a baby high chair, a baby pot and all kind of things. We looked like the Beverly hillbillies as we traveled back to Houston.
After a month working in the Phillips gas station I finally was able to get a job that paid better at Hughes Tool company. I took their test, passed it, and was able to start working the 3 till 11 shift. That allowed me to go to school at 7:35 in the morning and my classes lasted till around 3:00 P.M allowing me to get out of school and go to work. I really enjoyed working at Hughes and was able to meet other Apostolic’s that worked there. One of these that really became a friend of mine was Johhny Wilhoite who pastored a work in Highlands Texas just east of Houston. Johhny was not in my department but would come to my area when he could and we would fellowship on our breaks. Johnny asked me one night, Brother Duke what are you planning to do in your ministry? I told him I had been looking for a place to start a new church. He looked at me and asked me if I had heard of Galveston Texas? I said No. he then told me it was about 45 miles from Houston and was a Island where a lot of people went to for the beaches. He said there has been a lot of preachers to go there and try to start a church but they have all left and there is not one there. He told me of some of the hardships that they had and how some had been placed in jail for having services that were too loud. After all his negative statements about Galveston I thought to myself I am not interested in that place. Well about a month later at work I had Johnny to come to my area and the first thing he asked me was have you been to Galveston yet? I said no and actually I had not thought any more about it. He looked at me and said it won’t cost much to go look and they really do need a church there. Feeling a little bad about it I looked at him and said well I will drive over there on Sunday after church and see what it looks like.
On Sunday after church I, Carol, Jim and Betty Lenning got in the car and we drove to Galveston Texas. I remember looking in front of me just before I reached the city and there was a very high bridge that was so high that large ships could pass under it. As I drove across the bridge, I reached the highest point of the bridge and there before me was a full view of the Island of Galveston Texas. As I looked over the city I suddenly felt the awesome Spirit of God moving all over me and tears began to fill my eyes. I looked over at Carol and said this is where we are going to build a church. I could say the end but it was another beginning which was just a little in all that God did in my life as I continued in the work of God
Carol is still my sweetheart after 60 years of Marriage And we still stand for the same message if you wish to be in the Kingdom of God
HOW TO START A NEW CHURCH ?
After feeling the Spirit of God and making our decision to start a new church on Galveston, Texas came a small thought. How or What will we do now? Well first I placed an advertisement in the Galveston newspaper asking anyone that would like to help start a new Apostolic Pentecostal Church to contact me. Eagerly we waited and finally received one reply from a lady that told me she was not Pentecostal but knew a family that was and needed a church to attend in Galveston. She gave me the telephone number for a Mrs. King. When I called Sister King was so happy and asked us to come meet her and the family.
When we arrived at the King’s home she quickly came to the door and invited us in. After a discussion about beginning she asked where will you have services? I replied that we had not got that far yet and would have to find a building. Oh I know one that’s for rent. Excited we got the address and contacted the owner who agreed to rent us the building.