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Professor Brooks


by Charles F. Sullivan
     Isaiah Brooks was walking down west Second street past my father’s home when I was a small boy and as I looked at him, I was much surprised.
     Here was a colored man wearing a Prince Albert suit of clothes, fitting him well and spotless, with a silk or as better known a plug hat, his shoes shined as bright as any shoes I ever saw, carrying in his hand a ladies red silk parasol, covered with white lace and hanging down around the sides about three inches and hanging upon his little finger upon his left hand was a small flower basket, filled with fresh flowers.  I went to the front fence to see just all the details mentioned and climbed up onto it and was using my eyes to the best of my ability, when the figure stopped opposite me and with the utmost courtesy he bowed to me, and took off his hat and began talking to me just as though I was the king of England.  About this time my older brother came out and as he did so he said “Good evening Professor” and they talked several minutes, when he excused himself with the greatest regrets at not being able to stay longer.
     As he reached the next neighbor he repeated the performance and talked to them quite a little if he was received cordially, and if not he would go on just as though nothing unkind had happened.
     He did this many times upon a holiday or Sunday or in the long summer evenings, and he never allowed anything to ruffle him in the least, and always had a broad smile upon his face.
     He was no respector of persons for he talked to all alike, old or young, man or woman, whether he was snubbed or not, all were alike to him.
     When the Soldiers monument at the Soldiers home was dedicated probably in 1882, he was there and moved around amongst the people smiling and talking to all who would talk to him.  His make up was so unusual that all seeing him would want to talk to him to find out the why of it.
     I think he enjoyed every minute of that day for his face wore a smile all day long, and he went about scattering sunshine amongst all.
     I think that day was a red letter day to him for all treated him kindly and he in return would do his best to amuse them.
     Upon inquiry I found that his business was to clean cellars, and do other chores wherever and whenever he could get them.  I never saw him when he did not have a smile upon his face, and he seemed to get much enjoyment out of life.  He was well known all over town and was always known as Professor Brooks, and I never heard any reason for using the name professor.  What became of him I never heard but he left a lesson for us all, to be content in whatever lot we are in, and not be jealous of others who have more than we do, and to greet all with a smile.  While he filled a very humble position in this city, yet he lived up to his ability, and went about his business scattering sunshine to all.  What more can any one do than scatter sunshine to all?  It is reported that once when he was employed to cut some limbs off of a tree, that he got out on the limb and cut the limb with himself upon the outside of it and when he fell to the ground with the limb, he was not hurt a bit and got up smiling as usual, and began telling the joke upon himself with as much pleasure as if he was not the one the joke was upon.