Rosy and Louis watch the football game.

Louis and Rosamond Lawson have a son, born in Charleston. S.C. I’m 8 pounds, 7 ounces and 21 inches long. The day before, Louis and Rosy attended a local football game. As you can plainly see, they must have had front row seats. They are right next to the winner of the Jimmy Dean look-alike contest. Dad’s puffing on a Chesterfield. Mom looks like the labor pains are just kicking in.  Within 24 hours, a bouncing baby boy had been added to the household.



Mamie, Russell and Mama at home.My father, who is not really a Jr., because his dad was Louis Henry Russell Lawson, conveys the title Louis Russell Lawson III on me. Start of a grand dynasty, I guess, halcion heir to the Salmons/Waring line, since the Lawsons didn’t have two nickels to rub together. Big dreams for a little kid. In time, I will hate the “III” part. The photo shows Mom and me, with my grandmother, Big Rosy, to the right, at the entrance to St. Francis Hospital, where I was born. It’s a week after I take the stage and my mom is being discharged. Long before the “stop and drop” 24 hour deliveries of “health care cost control.”

Three months afterAt the time, my parents are living in Bedon’s Alley. It’s not a street, really, just a cobblestone stretch that runs between streets, wide enough for the wagon to get down when bringing the provisions, or to get the carriage down to the carriage house. Charleston’s alleys come from the colonial origins of the town. Many carriage houses are now residences like ours. The quarters are tight, I’m told, and in just a few years my parents move into the refurbished “servant’s quarters” behind the pre-Revolutionary masterpiece of Low Country construction occupied by my maternal grandparents, the Salmons, at 39 Meeting Street. Here I am in the pram in the living room of Bedon’s Alley at the age of 3 months.