They talked baseball for a while, then my uncle looked at his watch. He knew how busy Don was and all. Didn't want to hold him up any longer. Had just dropped by to say hello. Couldn't come all the way from Georgia and not see his good friend. He had wanted me to meet the "Great Don Sutton" that I had heard so much about. Don told us that we were always welcome.
It was a pleasant, high-spirited drive back to Chino. Yes sir, Don Sutton was a fine man.
Aunt Viola wanted to know how things had gone. Uncle Arbria told me to tell her. I told her that we had seen Don, and his wife and kids as well. Uncle Arbria was disappointed. Was that all I had to say? He suggested that we wash up for supper. Maybe my memory would improve if I were sitting in front of some good food.
We sat down to homemade biscuits, steak, gravy, mashed potatoes, baby lima beans and a fruit salad. I told Aunt Viola everything, beginning with a description of the rush-hour traffic. She listened attentively, her eyes shifting back and forth from me to Uncle Arbria, a smile playing about her lips. Uncle Arbria ate slowly, modestly keeping his eyes on the plate. He looked up and spoke twice—once when I related some events out of sequence; another time when I skimmed over a detail. Other than that, he was silent.
It was a long, lonely drive down the coast back to San Diego. I wondered if Don had ever been given those messages from my uncle. Mr. Johnson from Atlanta. I would never know, but Sutton was a good man. Yes sir!
When I passed the Fallbrook exit, I thought of Metzger. He probably knew everything about me. All the precautions were probably standard operating procedures for senior Klansmen. The Klan was trying to establish a new, non-violent image for itself. He would no doubt be as cordial as James Venable had been. I would learn nothing new. He and the Klan had more to gain from sitting down and talking politely with me than I from doing so with them. I would explain it all to my class.
We dealt with weighty matters in Contemporary Sociological Theories: power, authority, inequality, conflict, oppression, all the "isms." Things that were a part of but—as students sometimes complain—not exhaustive of the human condition. For the most part, they found the class interesting, but by the end of the semester they would be vaguely disappointed, nagged by the sense of there being something missing. They wanted answers that neither I nor the books they read could give. What am I to do? How shall I live my life? Though I didn't have the answers, I would tell the class about my uncle.
I never got around to setting up another appointment with Metzger.