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It#8217;s a small world in more ways than one

Have you ever inquired about someone, or saw someone with a familiar face that you thought you knew?

When my sisters Earlene Banks, Shirley Lee and I visited my father last Friday at George Washington Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, I sat in the lobby of the building talking with his roommate, while they sat with him outside. All of a sudden I noticed another resident pushing her wheelchair very slowly in our direction. She stopped it slightly in front of me and we started conversing. She told me that her name was Dorothy Freeman, and that she had lived in Portsmouth before recently being admitted to the healthcare center. When I told her that I was from Suffolk, she told me that she had attended the former Andrew J. Brown Elementary School as a young child before moving to Portsmouth. What a coincidence. My family lived almost in front of that school and she described how my mother looked and how she saw her sitting on the front porch many times. She then asked me about almost everyone who lived on that street, because three teachers lived there and taught at that school during that time.

She is only a couple of years younger than I am, and our conversation went from our elementary school days to our 20’s. Then we talked about a person who left his mark on the black community with his fried chicken. Alfonza “Frog” Williams. I never realized that his name would come up again so soon after the East Suffolk High School Reunion was over. Frog once lived on Wilson Street, but lived in Saratoga when I first tasted his fried chicken. I suppose that from the 60’s through the 80’s, when it came to chicken, Frog was a household name, the same as the Colonel’s name is now to others. Therefore, I decided to try to gather more information about Frog to take back to Freeman when I visited my father again.

What luck. I called my sisters’ house to see if they knew anything, and Wilbur Bryant, an employee from Crocker’s Funeral Home where my sister Earlene also works part-time, had dropped by. He put me in touch with Margaret Harris Vann, a classmate of mine, who told me about two of Williams’ nieces — Deborah Parker and Carolyn Dillard. Again, what luck and a coincidence. Those two women stayed on the street directly in front of my house.

When I called Parker, she told me that what made Frog’s chicken so tasty was he had a special recipe for his own batter, which he never gave to anyone. Most of the time he served chicken sandwiches two ways—jointly with the drumstick and thigh or jointly with the breast and wing.

What I liked most about the sandwiches was that the juice from the chicken always soaked through the bread and the flavor of the bread would taste just as good as the chicken. If Frog were still living today, he might have put some chicken restaurants out of business. I can imagine how his billboard would read if he were here running his own restaurant, “Hop on over to Frog’s for the best Southern fried chicken in town.”

However, as for this article, I never had the chance to contact the people to find out how he got the nickname. But I did find out that Frog was one of 11 children. He died in 1992.

He left his mark on the community with his fried chicken and the way that most people will always remember and talk about him when we get the chance; his legacy will never die.

As I was preparing to leave Freeman that day at the Healthcare Center, she asked, “Do you know any of the Turners who lived on Smith Street?” She told me Daisy Turner was her cousin. I told her that Turner was a classmate and that we graduated together. I called another classmate, Andrea Boykins Renolds who lives in Chesapeake and she gave me Turner’s phone number.

Turner’s married name is Nemorin and she now resides in Austell, Ga.

I contacted her and gave her Freeman’s address.

Before I walked out of the door Freeman made one last statement. “I have a sister who stays on Blythewood Lane,” she said.

“I can’t believe this because that’s the street that I live on,” I said.

It really is a small world after all in more ways than one.

Wall is a former News-Herald reporter and regular Town Square writer.