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Pure Gold


Pure Gold

By

Ralonda Charniece Gooch and Rashonda Darniece Moore

Published by:

True Vine Publishing Company

P.O. Box 22448

Nashville, TN. 37201

www.TrueVinePublishing.org



Copyright © 2018 by Ralonda C. Gooch and Rashonda D. Moore

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage without permission in writing from the author or publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.

Cover design by Synergy Media





Pure Gold

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ralonda Charniece Rashonda Darniece


PURE GOLD

But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. Job 23:10 (NIV)


Table of Contents

Foreword

Perfumed By Passion

Welcome Home

South!

House Party Offspring

Get Schooled

Charniece’s Conquest

Darniece’s Dominance

Perfumed By Fire

The Soul Of Radiance

Word To Mentors

We Are Radiance

Song Lyrics

Crown Of Glory

Beats Of Africa

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Everlasting Love



Foreword

We were gifted with the ability to see and create something from nothing. From the shadows, alone and independently, we stood. Alone, we pursued and possessed the vision. Alone, we were built to unify as leaders. Cherish the moment, Charniece.

We hope you understand. We wrote this story the way we felt it. We wrote this story the way we lived it. Get understanding through the revelation of our story. This is our history, and so we write. One love, Darniece.


 Perfumed by Passion

All we could see was smoke. The lights were off, and we heard the sound of voices roaring as our hearts pounded with the anticipation of finally making it to the end. Our minds tossed between, "Should we go or should we not?" Would fear steal this moment?

We ran to our Momma's arms as she convinced us to go on out there. We did our dance as we made it to the floor. In our youthful modesty, the confidence radiated. We were being watched by a crowd in awe of twin girls on the floor, but we observed the crowd as we danced.

We watched them as they watched us. We wondered why they screamed and clapped so loudly. We were just excited to be dancing with our big sister, LaTracye. It was in the fall of 1983 at the Fisk University gymnasium, and we were performers in the introduction part of a high school step show for the Sub-Debs of Whites Creek High School in Nashville, Tennessee.

This would be the beginning of our life's pursuit for our passion in the performing arts. While we were in pursuit, there were many bridges to cross. Passion was the reason we endured, and in spite of everything, somehow, we never gave up...neither one of us.



Welcome Home

We were southern born in Memphis, Tennessee at St. Joseph Hospital. Our Momma, Deitra Ann Gregory Gooch, our Daddy, James Richard Gooch, and two older sisters, LaTracye and Adrienne lived in Memphis at the time of our birth. They moved from Nashville, Tennessee to Memphis, Tennessee in 1971 because our Daddy's job relocated him. Our Momma did not know she was having twins until the day she had us. She heard the doctor say, "It's another one in there...push!"  We were the twin daughters, Ralonda Charniece Gooch and Rashonda Darniece Gooch, born eight minutes apart. It was the year, 1977, that sweet sixteenth day of September, Virgo, the royal blue Sapphire stone. In 1979, the family returned back to Nashville, and in 1980, our brother, Jason, the son that Momma and Daddy hoped for, arrived as the final addition to our family.

Momma and Daddy got our names from our Grandparents. Daniel Gregory, Sr. and Charlotte Helena Fykes Gregory were our Momma's parents. Clifton Gooch, Sr. and Gleaves Anniece Jetton Gooch were our Daddy's parents. We never got a chance to know Daddy's parents - Granddaddy Clifton, because he lived and died in Chicago, Illinois, and Grandmomma Gleaves, because she died the next year of our birth. We have a brother, Jason Rodrick Gooch, and two older sisters, Earawn LaTracye Gooch Blair and Adrienne Richelle Gooch Davidson. These were Momma's children. We also have additional siblings from our Daddy - sister, Davita Brown, and brother, Jamel Gooch.

Our Momma grew up in the John Henry Hale housing projects in Nashville, Tennessee on Jo Johnston Avenue. Her parents and siblings were one of the first families to move there when it was built. They were one of the first families in the Hale housing projects to get a colored television. Momma moved out of the projects in 1969. Our Daddy was born in Chicago, Illinois and grew up in the north Nashville area on Torbett Street. Both were graduates of the historical Pearl High School (Momma in 1967 and Daddy in 1966). At that time, Pearl High School was one of the segregated schools for Blacks in Nashville, Tennessee.

What was it like growing up in Nashville, Tennessee? Everyone had their preconceived notions. We were often asked that question when we visited different cities, and when we were asked the question, the person would ask with a “country slang...Na-yashville”. Ah, Nashville, Music City U.S.A....Nashville was hailed as Music City by the Queen of England when she saw the performance of the historical Fisk University Jubilee Singers in the 1870's. The name, Music City, has remained penned to Nashville. Thank you, Fisk University and Fisk Jubilee Singers.

When people heard us say we were from Nashville, Tennessee, they had one perception - Country Music. We respected the art form of Country music. Country music's roots were traced back to Africa by way of the African slaves of America. Although Nashville was known for Country Music, there were many genres of music in the city. Media portrayal, statistics, and percentages were not always accurate. So, we spoke of Nashville, Tennessee from our own perspective and our own experience. Nashville, Tennessee was very rich with Black Heritage and the Black Experience. Being a southern city in a southern state, our ancestors made many strides for our rights. With historical places like Jefferson Street, Pearl High School, Meharry Medical College, Tennessee State University, and Fisk University, the racial diversity of the city made a mark and voice for this nation. Nashville, Tennessee was a good place to live, and it was fresh territory. The restoration of our ancestors' heritage belonged to us, and we lived impacting the city with our voice through music and the arts.

They prayed to God in the deep of the night. He provided the children's heritage, it was our right.

We grew up in a predominantly Black middle-class neighborhood called Gold Key in the Bordeaux area of northwestern Nashville. We did the typical things that kids did while growing up: jumping off porches, falling and scarring our knees, elbows, and chins, running backyard relay races, jumping rope, hula-hooping, playing hopscotch, baton twirling, playing kickball, dodge ball, and unorganized basketball, dancing, skipping, turning cartwheels and flips, stepping in step shows, stepping on ants, running from bugs, butterflies, and lightning bugs, playing board and card games, hand clapping games, playing jacks, setting up lemonade stands, making Kool-aid freeze cups and ice cubes with toothpicks, blowing bubbles, hitting our shin bones on ten speed bike pedals, running from dogs, going to playgrounds and parks, going to softball and baseball games, neighborhood and school dance battles, talent and backyard dance contests, cardboard sledding, ping-pong, picnics, slumber parties, barbecues, picking four-leaf clovers, picking flowers and smashing it in a book, eating honeysuckles, waiting for the popsicle man, climbing fences, skating, Girl Scout meetings, and pretending like we were superstars at the theater with an audience of stuffed animals!  We were simple children. For little Black girls, braids and beads with aluminum foil at the ends of the hair were typical hairstyles for the summer time in the 1970s and 1980s.

What was it like being a twin?  We could never really answer the question. We had been twins our whole life. It was like asking that person, what was it like not being a twin?  Had we ever switched places?  Yes, in the eighth grade, and we got caught because the teacher overheard a classmate’s conversation. We were different from other people, and with different, came praises and the infamous twin jokes. Some of our own life's experiences were alike and some were different, but we learned from one another. Many of our hobbies and aspirations were similar. As young girls, we would dress alike and people would stop, stare, and laugh, and we would look at those people and stop, stare, and laugh. We loved to laugh and smile. We were free to be ourselves, and we did not concern ourselves with status - financial or social. We were identical twins with a family who loved us, but then came life's ups and downs, like many people had, but this was our story.

We felt like these walls were closing in on us. Time was spinning and we had no time to fuss. Pain seemed to be the only one reaching, see. So, we prayed a lot to maintain sanity. It was long sometimes, looking for the promise. It was long nights sometimes, we had to be honest. Our eyes grew dim looking for the light of day. Our strength had often failed when we tried to find our way. But, we stand now, and we've only got God to thank. How did we make it?  We've only got God to thank.

The neighborhood kids were usually playing basketball or hanging out at Momma and Daddy's house. When the chain broke, everybody ran, and some ran in our house. Smoke, our family dog, registered as Sir Gallahad, never chased the kids, though. Smoke broke the chain and jumped the fence. For some reason, the only thing he wanted to do when he broke the chain was take laps around the house. Smoke would run, run, and run. A day came when Daddy yelled, "Smoke, Smoke!"  We stood at the back door. He yelled again, "Smoke, Smoke!"  He was louder and more stern…still, no answer.

We went outside to meet our Daddy and our brother, Jason. Daddy was uneasy, and we knew something was wrong. We walked through the grass. Daddy was silent. We stood and watched. Daddy leaned over and touched his silky black and brown Doberman Pinscher. Smoke was silent. Smoke was not moving because Smoke was dead - killed by rat poison. It was 1986. Daddy wondered who did it. We never found out who poisoned Smoke. As crazy as it seemed, Smoke's death brought sadness to the family and the neighborhood kids who would run when Smoke broke loose from the chain of his wooden doghouse.

Our heads were posted and lifted up by the eloquence of our stride, and though our time became tested, we invested encouragement in ourselves and our wills to survive.

We were about nine years old, unprepared, and certainly not equipped for what we were getting ready to face. Time without the presence of the first man we were to learn from, receive pure love from, and reach out to for support, protection, and high esteem. Momma called us together, "Well," she spoke tenderly with the strength she had left for us. "Your Daddy will not be coming home," she said. He had undergone a personal circumstance that would lead to the end of the consistent presence of Daddy. We went through a sudden shift. Momma had to do it on her own - raise five kids. She was strong. One thing we respected about Momma was how she never spoke bad of Daddy. She was very sacrificial. The child support system was different back then, so she had to work. We learned early how to take care of ourselves.

At that time, Tracye, our oldest sister, moved out of the house. Our next oldest sister, Adrienne, assisted us as much as she could at times when Momma was at work. Our brother, Jason, followed his own way, always playing sports with the neighborhood kids.

Although Momma had to work, we learned how to be our own beauty shop and fashion designers. It was hard for Momma to shop for twins because she had to pay for two of everything simultaneously. There were three of us, at that time, since she had to also take care of our brother, Jason. Everything we owned was labeled with a C, D, or J (our initials) or Momma bought items in our favorite colors of turquoise/blue for Charniece, purple for Darniece, and red for Jason. That kept us from fighting over each other's stuff.

When we were kids, we were excited to go to the employee events at Momma's job, The Tennessee Prison for Women. Believe us, seeing those prison cells kept us from ever wanting to be there!  During the summers, when Momma played softball for her job, we would go to the playground, running straight to the see-saw or merry-go-round. The ladies at the prison loved Jason, and they would take him straight to the kitchen to get food. We would run to the kitchen and get food, too. The prisoners were happy to see us because they had great respect for our Momma. At that time, she was an officer. She became sergeant, and worked at the prison twenty-nine years and five months, from 1984 to 2013, before she retired.

Although Momma and Daddy separated, there were some memorable times. How could we forget the big black 1975 Park Avenue Buick in the backyard?  The one thing we hated about that Buick in the summer time was the hot black leather seats. It felt like we sat on ten hot skillets!  Momma would wheel that deuce cruising. We wondered if she could see over the dashboard or the steering wheel of that Buick deuce. We guessed the adults loved the 1975 Buick, but we hated it. It was big, slow, and finally broke down for good. It sat in the backyard for years while the grass underneath it grew long and corroded. Maybe they thought that thing was going to resurrect!

How could we forget the two 'Bug' Volkswagens, the 1969 blue one and the 1972 orange one?  Back then, Volkswagens were not that big. The engines were loud, and the batteries were located right under the back seat. In August of 1984, we were making our usual route to school in the 1972 orange Volkswagen. Momma was driving and Jason, our brother, was sitting in the front passenger seat. We were in the back seat, having fun, laughing, and bouncing away. Momma yelled, "Hey, yall stop bouncing in that back seat!"

We stopped for a moment, but we started bouncing again. All of a sudden, the back seat began to smoke and caught on fire. Momma pulled over into the parking lot of a building located across the street from (at that time) Lee's Chicken on Jefferson Street in Nashville, Tennessee. She yelled, "Get out!" We obeyed and ran out quickly. Momma went across the street to use a pay phone in the parking lot of Lee's Chicken, and we followed. As soon as we walked across the street, black smoke was in the air and the orange 1972 Volkswagen was fully engulfed in fire.

We watched the car burn. We also heard the loud voice of an older man tell us and Jason to stay far away from the car, just in case it exploded. The powerful part about this miracle was when Momma heard us say the seat was on fire, Momma reacted. She did not try to see the fire for herself. She trusted that we told the truth. Never turn a deaf ear to your children. We never forgot that day. Even after our Daddy knew the orange Volkswagen caught on fire, he persisted on getting another one, the blue 1969 Volkswagen. He eventually learned the hard way - ashes to ashes. It burned up, too.

And speaking of cars...there was another time, we were sitting at a traffic light, and smoke blew from the exhaust pipe. "You need some oil!" said a man from across the street at a gas station. All we could say was, "Thank you."  He had some good advice, but the car drank as much oil as it could. Nothing could get rid of the smoke blowing from the exhaust pipe. People passed by in their cars and rolled their windows up to keep from choking. We were used to it. When we got to school or any destination, we smelled like car smoke fumes.

The back car bumper was already bent down from where somebody hit the back of the car on a rainy day. When the car was driven, the pedal was pressed hard, and the car was driven fast in order to get the heat or the air conditioner to blow because it was broken. One time, the car rolled over a bump in the street, and the car horn went off with no end. The steering wheel had to be beaten until the car horn stopped blowing, and it never worked again. The struts on the car did not work, so we felt the pressure of everything on the ground.

Now, we can look back and laugh, but during that time, it was very frustrating. Huh, at least the car got us from A to B. It was the 1986 Gold Mercury Lynx, stick shift. It was the car both of us learned how to drive. That was the story of a few embarrassing moments with cars. You know how it was, if somebody was picking you up in a raggedy car, you told them to meet you halfway. You walked to that halfway point, so nobody would see you. This was our story.

The marriage separation between Momma and Daddy caused a struggle with lack. These were some evidences. In the winter time, Momma would open the hot oven and turn the stove on high to get heat. In the summer time, bugs were plastered to the window screen because Momma would put the fan in the window to cool off (we would sing in the fan because it gave our voices beautiful vibrato). We had arguments over who ate the last piece of cheese, and arguments over who left the empty Kool-aid pitcher in the refrigerator.

Then, there was the question, “Is the electricity off again?” Go get the candles and the flashlight.” We would eat pork-n-beans and wieners for lunch every day. There was also this worry, “No insurance…well you better hope you don’t get sick.” We were definitely not born with silver spoons in our mouths. We experienced the ‘hand-me-down’ days. Who wanted the leftovers? We were looking for things we chose. We hated getting help from other people because of the ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude. All these experiences built survival skills and humble hearts.


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