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Blalock (left) with Terrel Brown at Garrett Coliseum watching the Harlem Globetrotters

Dancing for pennies

By Michael Butler

Charles "CC" Blalock remembers dancing for lunch money when he was a youngster at RR Moton High School in Tallassee.

"Back in 1954 and '55," Blalock recalled, "Lunch was 20 cents. At one time it was a dime. We also had a free list at school. My sister and brother were on the free list. I think Tallassee Mills paid for that. If your household was headed by one parent you were considered for a free meal. For many years, we were considered for a free meal."

Reduced and free lunches still apply today, but times have changed from the days of Blalock's childhood.

"When we were at Moton, we came off the free lunches. There was a good break between meal time. From about 11:00 to 12:00, my class would have that break. I would dance between those times and the guys would pitch pennies to me on the floor until I got 60 cents. When I got 60 cents, I would pay for me, my little brother and little sister to have meals. We didn't do it everyday, but we did it sometimes."

Blalock in 2012 being honored during Charles Blalock Day

Times were hard and spare change was hard to find for Blalock growing up then.

"The movie, "Mighty Joe Young" showed in this theater up here when I had to pay ten cents. A lot of my friends came by going to that movie. My mother didn't have a dime to give me to go to that movie. That's just how tough things were back in the early years.

Blalock receiving a proclamation for Volunteer Week during his tenure as councilman

"Poverty didn't discriminate. People just didn't have during those times. I was 17-years-old before I knew what segregation and poverty were all about. I did not know those two things until I got into the military."

Blalock, a former city councilman is now 81 and retired from politics. He remembers his early days like they were yesterday.

"People got along. I used to always say, if you've really got a problem - if we get together, walk far enough and talk long enough I think we're going to come out with a better understanding. We don't need anybody dipping in telling us how we should do this and that.

"I personally kept demonstrations and marches out of of Tallassee back in the early '60s. There was a group wanting to come to our town. I said, 'If you leave us alone, I think we'll be able to work it out.' As it turned out, one of the smoothest transitions from segregated schools to integrated schools took place right here in Tallassee."