Remembering Dorchester, Jan. 22, 2020

Submitted to Dorchester Banner/U.S. Navy
This Skyhawk Navy attack aircraft, the “Lady Jessie,” was part of VA-164, Lt. Cmdr. Hugh Allen Stafford’s squadron.

Taken from the pages of the Banner

25 years ago — Members of Bethel AME Church held their 11th annual Poor Man’s Supper last Saturday. The event was to commemorate the birth of civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.

It is traditionally held on the first Saturday following his birthday. The theme of the 11th annual event was, “Keep the Dream Alive.”
Over a dinner of fried chicken, biscuits and black-eyed peas, testimonials to the power and importance of the late Dr. King’s message were heard as well as exhortations to continue in that direction.

“We welcome you tonight with love,” former County Commissioner Lemuel Chester said. “If you don’t have love in your heart, it is in your wallet and it is not going to go anywhere.”

“We unequivocally stand against racism in all of its forms. The church stands against all that prevents people from fulfilling their potential,” speaker Dwight Cromwell said. “We know what Martin Luther King went through, because it was no different in Cambridge. No different.”

Calling the evening a night “when our hearts and minds and stomachs are filled with good things,” Pastor Leon B. Hall introduced the night’s main speaker, the Rev. Keith Grooms.

He said the problem with the black community was that it had broken down its relationship with the Lord. He asked the parents to discipline their children and spoke nostalgically of the days when he was punished by the parents of his entire neighborhood.

“Nothing is worse than an insolent child, a child who talks back,” he said. “We have not taught them the love of the Lord.”

50 years ago — The mother of a Navy pilot held prisoner in North Vietnam said Monday night she can’t positively identify a radio message said to be from him, but she is certain he is alive.

Mrs. Arnold Daane, the mother of Lt. Cmdr. Hugh Allen Stafford, was flown to Washington, D.C. from her Cambridge home by radio station WWDC for an interview. She is co-owner of the Banner newspaper.

Mrs. Daane said she was sure her son was alive because she has received several letters and most recently a picture postcard written in ink that appeared fresh. The recorded message, however, was as unclear as a similar one that she was sent at Christmastime.

Mrs. Daane said, “I just pray he is alright. The Lord has been good to us. I feel deeply for mothers and wives who haven’t heard anything.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Lt. Cmdr. Stafford was shot down Aug. 31, 1967, by a surface-to-air missile during a raid on Haiphong in North Vietnam.

He was a member of VA-164, known as the Ghostriders, a U.S. Navy attack squadron flying the Skyhawk jet. Lt. Cmdr. Stafford was released and returned to the United States in 1973. He died on Dec. 23, 2003.