Luther Lee McLemore was Jake McLemore‘s older brother. Born in 1951, Luther came of age during the turbulent period of the Sixties. This song has him looking back on those times in 2019 as a retired mailman living in his hometown, Shreveport, Louisiana.
Luther’s most vivid memories are from his teenage years, living through the assassinations of JFK, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, and the Vietnam War. However, Lyndon Johnson had created draft deferments for anyone in college, as well as a variety of minor medical conditions which could qualify as an exemption. This policy ultimately meant that while most Middle Class young men eligible for the draft had several avenues to avoid service, those from less affluent families were caught up in the war.
Luther was just young enough that his four years in college effectively placed him out of range of the draft, since by 1973 the US was deescalating the war effort, bringing soldiers home instead of sending more over.
After he graduated, Luther worked a number of dead-end jobs, but eventually took and passed the civil service exam. In 1976 he began working as a postman, which he did for the next forty years, retiring in 2016. But those forty years seem like a blur, overshadowed by his formative years during the Sixties.
1951 (F.D. Leone, Jr.) My name is Luther McLemore 1951 is the year I was born It made me who I am I was taught to say, “no, sir” and “yes, ma’am” Was eleven in ’63 Saw my mother cryin’ at the TV Mama said someone shot the president I didn’t know then what it meant Was in high school in ’68 The streets were filled with so much hate They killed Martin Luther King Then Bobby Kennedy, and a dream Graduated in ’69 A man from the army tried to get me to sign I was lucky and got in a university Plenty of others weren’t lucky like me ’76 I took the civil service exam A post office in Bossier hired me as a mailman Loved one woman, we had a couple of kids But by ’88, we’d hit the skids I’m retired now, back in Shreveport Sipping a beer, sitting on my porch Last forty years seem like a blur Mostly I think about how things were Last forty years seem like a blur Mostly I think about how things were © 2020 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP). The songs and stories on the Highway 80 Stories website are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.