749. Purple robe


Louvenia’s ancestors were from Angola. For generations, however, her ancestors had lived in Brazil. They moved to the United States a few generations back. Louvenia was proud of her African heritage.

She worked in a laundromat. She loved her job, or more particularly, she loved the pay packet that came once every two weeks. Some customers were rude. Other customers were lovely; always polite and kind. Louvenia took extra care with their clothes. The rude one’s clothes got washed and ironed without a care.

There was one very polite man who came to the laundromat about once a month. His name was Virgil. He was a short, weedy, little man with glasses. He was always convivial and seemed to appreciate the care that Louvenia put into caring for his clothes. Louvenia thought he must have been a bishop because he always brought in a purple robe to be washed. She took special care with it because it was for “Virgil the Bishop”. His robe was washed by hand, and ironed with attentiveness, and folded neat with care.

“There we are, Bishop,” Louvenia would say. “No charge this week.”

But he wasn’t a bishop at all. His robe was purple because he was head of the KKK.

30 thoughts on “749. Purple robe

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      The Virgil who lived next door to me had photographs in his porch of people hanging from trees with ropes around their necks. He’d taken the photos himself…

  1. Cynthia Jobin

    Sounds like you next door Virgil was pretty brazen. Your story-Virgil just goes to show that an unassuming, polite little man by day, could be the Imperial Wizard by night.

    Across the valley from the River where I grew up, on the side of the mountain, was a ledge where periodically burned a fiery cross during a gathering of the KKK. There was not a single Afro-American family in our town. The flaming cross was a hateful message to the Catholics, in this case, and we were Catholics. Frightening. And ironic, as I later learned that the KKK hood and regalia were originally borrowed from medieval Catholic ceremonies.

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      Interesting indeed! This man was known as “The Cyclops” – I don’t know his exact function in the KKK. He was extremely rich but lived in a little run down mobile home, apparently incognito, as he had been responsible (so my landlord whom I got drunk several times) told me, for the killing of a number of people in an uprising in nearby South Carolina. He was a delightful man to chat to, as I often did in passing.

    1. Cynthia Jobin

      I googled KKK regalia…there’s a wikipedia article that gives the history, ranks and colors of the robes. Ordinary members wear white, but the various ranks, like Imperial Wizard, Grand Dragon, Cyclops, etc….are each of a different color.

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      I’m not sure about things at all Noelle – I’m just going on what my landlord, the owner of the Laundromat in Asheville, NC, told me. Anyway, it makes for a good yarn!

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      Names usually come out of the obituary column of the NZ Herald, but Virgil was a next door neighbour in real life and Louvenia was what Wikipedia described as “a not uncommon African-American name”!


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