By Vernon A. Williams
Social media platforms trivialize the word “friend.” It disillusions people into thinking they may have 500 to 5,000 when they’re blessed to claim five; that is, in the true scriptural definition found in Proverbs 17:17 which reads: “A friend loveth at all time, and a brother is born for adversity.”
I met a brother named Lucky (aka Lloyd) Hall as a freshman at Indiana University in Bloomington. By my sophomore year, we were friendly rivals as a result of our choice of fraternities. Lloyd wore the purple and gold of Omega Psi Phi every bit as proudly as I donned the crimson and cream of Kappa Alpha Psi.
Both of us were gregarious, outspoken, politically active and well-known on campus. Besides social events and a few rallies, our paths were on mutually respectful parallel tracks until we both were summoned into the office of the Dean of African American Affairs.
It was explained that there was a national conference of African American students scheduled for San Diego, and we were told that because of our relatively high profiles among students, we were selected to serve as the two delegates representing I.U.
My first serious one-on-one conversation with Lucky came after we boarded a small propeller plane at the Bloomington airport for the short flight to Indianapolis to make our connection. It was my first time flying and I was nervous.
Lucky smiled and nonchalantly assured me there was nothing to it; that he had flown several times and it was as easy as riding a bike. He told me that there may be an occasional bump from turbulence but not to worry, they were few and far between.
About 10 minutes after take-off, we flew into a rainstorm. Hail was pelting the windows, lightning lit up the small cabin and thunder was so loud we could barely hear each other. Before I had a chance to be frightened, I felt two hands grasping my forearm tight enough to cut off circulation.
I couldn’t resist. I looked at Lucky’s unrelenting grip and reminded him, “I thought you said that you’ve flown before and that we shouldn’t trip over a few bumps here and there.” All he could say was, “Yeah, but man this is different.” Right about then, we came out of the storm and landed a few minutes later in Indy.
Needless to say, Lucky had given me the topic that would dominate our conversation for the next four hours in the air. That actually revealed to me the first thing about his personality that I came to know, Lucky had an irrepressible sense of humor even when the joke was on him. To me, that was always a show of strength of character.
During the four days and three night conference, we became standout delegates among hundreds of students from around the country – providing creative and succinct perspectives and strategies for Black collegiate advocacy in the 70s.
After hours, we hit one of the clubs the first night, drove through Los Angeles for a quick visit to Tijuana and back the next evening, and got tickets to see the Funkadelics and Parliament live at the San Diego auditorium on the last night of the conference. Yeah, we were determined to get the most out of this trip.
Waiting for our return flight at the Los Angeles airport, Lucky wanted to get a souvenir for his son – who he couldn’t stop talking about. He was heading to the register with a cap pistol when I grabbed his arm and shook my head, “Even play guns send the wrong message, brother. Don’t get him that.” He exchanged it for a nice race car.
We bonded and became friends for life after that trip. Lucky always enjoyed a good time, but he was much deeper than most brothers and always peeled life realities in poignant layers. For all the memories of that trip to San Diego, for decades that followed, the part that stood out to him most was my persuading him not to buy a toy gun for his son.
Our respect for one another grew over the years. We were both members of the IU Soul Revue. After Bloomington, we both served on the IU Executive Council and were active with the Indianapolis Chapter of the Neal Marshall Alumni Club Executive Board.
Lucky and I shared a love for music. He and his beautiful, doting wife LaVreen were great company last year for the Smokey Robinson concert in Conner Prairie in Fishers. The last time I saw Lucky was when we got together for the Kirk Franklin concert at the Murat. The last time we talked was a few weeks ago when he called me, ebullient about his son’s decision to pledge his fraternity. He was a family man.
I could go on but suffice it to say that Lucky H. Hall Sr. was smart academically and intuitively, talented but more interested in spotlighting others, strong but vulnerable, passionately outspoken but willing to listen, relentlessly committed to anything in which he got involved, which made him such a true and loyal friend. Your fight became his fight.
But above it all, Lucky was a devoted family man who always had his priorities straight.
We called each other “brothers from another mother.” When I came on board at IUPUI, out of the stream of thoughtful well-wishes that I received, his stood out. Lucky wrote: “Congratulations brother. I am as happy for you as I would be if I was getting the position.” I thought about that then and now. Lucky meant it. That’s friendship.
This ruthless, vile pandemic took Lucky away too suddenly, too soon last week. But the good that he brought to so many for so long will never die. RIH LUCKY.
CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].