My Other Mother - Touching a life
By Wilbert Longmire
Join me for a special musical tribute to “My Other Mother”, Dr. Bessie C. Noble.When I was young and didn’t know what I wanted to be in life, I had very encouraging people around me. People with strong ethics and principles. Of course I had my mother, Mrs. Mildred C. Longmire-Nichols (known as Mother Mildred by the city of Cincinnati, the police force, City Hall, the Urban League, 48 Hrs of CBS television network, etc), and my father, W.T. Longmire, a city of Cincinnati employee for many years. Both parents gave me an example of things to follow that I will never forget.
Moving from Mobile, AL, via Pensacola, FL, to Cincinnati’s west-end was no easy task. My parents arrived with little funds looking for opportunities, like many others before them from the south (I was only three years old).
As I grew up, the west-end of Cincinnati (primarily a black neighborhood) was quite an experience for me. Back then we didn’t have much in the way of financial opportunities. My mother had to do what we call day work; or what was known as domestic work, working for wealthy white families. The one thing we did have was a cohesive caring community, a village of sorts. Somebody else’s family, or mother, could discipline us while our mother was away; this was an accepted practice.
As a youngster we would play, fight each other, but we’d also fight for each other - fighting one day, playing the next. In our village we were inspired by great caring heroes and sheroes who made sure we were armed with integrity, values, respect, dignity, pride, and an iron-willed desire to make something out of ourselves. They inspired us to go for our greatness, while assuring us that if we worked hard and prayed, we could reach any goal, no matter how many obstacles in our path.
There were many great teachers that inspired me in those days, but none got my attention as much as Mrs. Bessie C. Noble of Hayes Elementary School (my 6th grade teacher). Mrs. Noble was much more than a teacher, she was larger than life, to me as an 11-year old student. She took a personal interest in all of her students…it was as though we were her kids. She was like our mother, teaching us everything from hygiene to manners. She was my other mother!
She was a stern, no nonsense educator who had zero tolerance for mediocrity, insisting on excellence from all her students. When somebody would act out in her class she had a little red stick, which she would quickly give you a few good licks in your hand, and usually that was all it took to get you back in line. She is the lady that changed and redirected my life.
She told me that if I was good the remainder of the year, she would recommend me for instrumental music to Mr. Charles Keys (music teacher at Porter Jr. High). This was the spark that triggered a 53 year musical career that included: two international major recording companies (United Artist (1969), C.B.S. Records (1977)); producer, writer, arranger, lecturer, and radio personality; and provided international exposure, allowing me to tour the USA, Asia and Europe.
Her guidance and tutelage inspired me to encourage others, where I later aided in igniting such world-renowned talents as: Bootsy Collins, Sugarfoot Leroy Bonner (Ohio Players), Sheldon Reynolds (EWF), Roman Johnson (Isley Brothers), Nate Best (O’ Jays, Levert), Odeen Mays (Kool and the Gang), and Darnell (Dee) Bristol (The Deele). To further help others, I founded Millie’s House of Music, a nonprofit organization teaching music to inner-city youth, while also awarding free musical instruments, all the while keeping “my other mother” in mind.
Mrs. Noble, not only touched my life, but many others’ in our community, including a young Diana Ross passing through Cincinnati, on her way to greatness in Detroit with Motown and Berry Gordy.
Ms. Bessie never stopped reaching for higher education herself; obtaining her Bachelor of Science in education (1942); Bachelor of Education (1943); Masters of Education (19 47); and then obtaining her Doctorate of Education (1973) Ms. Noble also went on to teach at the college level after 24 years in Cincinnati’s public school system. She taught at the college level in upstate New York (Syracuse University and Liverpool Central School). In total, she contributed more than 50 years in the classroom and retired in 1992. What’s so astounding is, all these momentous accomplishments were achieved by a lady that as a young girl, she walked eight miles each day to school.
To show my appreciation to “my other mother”, for all the things, she has done for me and countless others, I dedicate a special musical tribute to Dr. Bessie C. Noble on Friday, June 18, 2010 at 8:00pm at The Redmoor Theater, 3187 Linwood Ave., Cincinnati, OH, (513) 871-6789. Tickets are $20.00.
I also invite all of Dr. Noble’s special students, friends and family to join us to celebrate her legacy. Come enjoy an evening with Wilbert Longmire and Special Guests, for a tribute to “My Other Mother . . . Dr. Bessie C. Noble – A True Legend.
For additional information call (513) 807-5577, or go to http://www.wilbertlongmire.com/. Also, become my friend on Facebook.
Products of the west end of Cincinnati:
EZZARD CHARLES. ..HEAVY WEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD
BUD SMITH… LIGHT WEIGHT CHAMPION
JIM WYNN…HOUSTON ASTROS
WALT JOHNSON…CLEVELAND BROWNS
AL NELSON…PHILDELPHIA EAGLES
CLEOPHUS EDWARDS…NFL GREAT
NEAL CRAIG…CINCINNATI BENGAL
ROLAND WEST…NBA GREAT
JUDGE CHERYL GRANT…
VICTOR MOORE…WORLD KARATE CHAMPION
GILBERT YOUNG… WORLD RENOWNED ARTIST
PHILLIPE WYNN…SPINNERS LEAD SINGER
DR.ODELL OWENS…HAM CO.CORONER
DR.STANLEY BROADNAX... FORMER HEALTH COMISSIONER
MEL TURNBOW…BOXING GREAT
HAL DAVID… MOTOWN PRODUCER
GILBERT (SKIP) STARKY…MOTOWN EXEC.
WM.F.BOWEN…STATE SENATOR OF OHIO
WM. L.MALLORY…MAJORITY LEADER OF OHIO HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
AND MANY OTHERS
Teachers and leaders that inspired them
MAXWELL MAX… COACH, MENTOR, LINCOLN CENTER LINN ST.
WILL STARGELL…TEACHER COACH MENTOR
PERCY REED…BOYS CLUB 9TH AND WADE STREET
MR VINEGAR…9TH ST. YMCA
LEO HOPKINS (SCOUT MASTER)…TROOP 55
VIVIAN J. BEAMON…PRINCIPAL HAYES ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
MR TURPOLE…STOWE SCHOOL
MRS BEASLEY…PORTER JR.HIGH
MRS SADIE PARKER…HAYES ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
MR CHARLES KEYS…MUSIC TEACHER PORTER JR HIGH
AND MANY OTHERS.........