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From Walter R. McCall

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Author: McCall, Walter R. (Fort Valley State College)

Date: May 6, 1955

Location: Fort Valley, Ga. 

Genre: Letter

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Family


McCall describes his plan to build a soda shop at Fort Valley State College and says that he may ask King for a loan. King’s response is not documented.

Dear Mike,

At last, I have an opportunity to sit down and write a letter! Boy! I have been a busy fellow: Work! Work! everywhere I turn, but things have slowed down a bit now. In spite of things being in a whirl, I have no reason to complain, I guess.

Hope things are going your way. I wanted to drop in on you on last Sunday past, but I discovered that I was too far off the Montgomery route from Talladega, therefore I had to take the shortest route back. Had an exceedingly good time there, as ever. By the way, I recommended you to Dr. J. R. Pross, Dean of Philosophy and Psychology and Head of Chaplaincy at Talladega. You may hear from him relative to speaking there. He is a very fine fellow. He and his wife holds the Ph.D. degree in philosophy from the University of Chicago. I hope that you both get to know each other.

By the way, I have gone a long way on the plans for constructing the College Soda Shop here: Have bought six thousand dollars ($6,000.00) worth of equipment, and will pick it up on Saturday. It is bought on a good bargain. Fellow is going out of business in downtown Atlanta, and has a whole completely furnished-elaborately furnished drug stroe, and he is giving me everything we need to equip our place. So, I have already bought a 50 gal tank, soda fountain 12 ft. long, bar bar, mirror; steamer with 8 holes; meat ei slicer (electric), cash register (electric), coke dispenser, 12 lights (neon), 150 pots, pans, knives, forks, plates, etc., 3 show cases, a whole side of enclosed shelves—a whlae of a lot of stuff—much more than I can name off hand. At any rate, I have bought every piece of equipment and fixture the business needs from him. He is the brother of a local druggist of this city, with whom I am very familar. Every iota is completed for building, so as soon as we go to Atlanta and pick the stuff up and get the measurements on the drain pipes on the fountain and steamer etc. the building will be underway. Hope to complete it by the last of July, but if at all possible by the last of June. It will be a dream, though a somewhat small place—only 35' x 50'. All plans are completed to stock it up as soon as it is completed. I will be a happy fellow when this is completed, as I am putting a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and dollars in it. Though we are getting out very cheaply.

Look out, I may call upon you for a small loan of two or three hundred bucks in June until Christmas of this year—really. Of course, I will pay you interest on it. Mike there is a dire need for this kind of business here, and I am absolutely sure that it will go in a big way here as we have the clientele and have the best possible location in town—just behind the Academic buld bildi building with only a street dividing it from the college campus! I am trying like Hell to build as I am young so by the time I am a bit older these investments will pay off. I plan to go back to school next year, or the year after. I hope to study for two or three straight years before stopping. Let me mention another factor or so about this business as I think it’s important: three of us are in it: a Maddox who was in Morehouse along with us for a while, but left to study photography in Connecticut, and has a studio here; he owns the land and is giving us a 15 yrs. lease on it free from rent for the first five years. Good! I have bought more than an acre of land which is being used now as a basis of foodstuff for the business free from rent for the first five yrs. As Maddox is giving us an option on the renewal of the lease after 15 yrs., I also am giving the owners an option on the land I own after the first 5 yrs. for renewal of release. The other fellow is a young buck in our age category (27 yrs.), as Maddox and I are the same age. This fellow’s wife holds the Ph.D. degree and works on here at the college, as professor of sec. education! Each has a good reputation in the town, and is sober in all conduct and thinking. We have the business so organized that no one can infringe upon the rights of the other. It is legally constructed. We all will be a batch of proud JACK ASSES when this thing is finished.

By the way, Norma is in school down here, and is in my class! Why don’t you and Coretta spend a week or so here with me in the Summer? Will look for you.

Remember, Doctor, I may wish to borrow that sum from you in June. I am struggling! Don’t worry, I will be able to loan you a few thousand in a few years! Watch me.

Best wishes, OLE TIMER, and a bigh hello to Coretta, and my good acquaintances there.


A Pal,

Source: MLKP, MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass.

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