In This Issue: Fall in Cabarrus County
October, 2019: Fall in Cabarrus County
Normally I utilize this space in the magazine to introduce the issue and tell some story from my past that relates to the month’s theme. This month, I’m going to do something a little different. This month’s theme is “Fall in Cabarrus”. There are lots of things to do and see in Cabarrus County this season and this issue is here to help you discover some of the opportunities available. There, I’ve gotten that out of the way. Now here’s what I really want to talk about.
I recently attended the funeral of a friend who was taken from this life unexpectedly. His name was Melvin Caldwell. If you frequent downtown Concord, you most likely had met, or at least seen, Melvin around downtown. He was the self-proclaimed “Mayor of Downtown Concord”. Melvin didn’t have a lot of money. He worked odd jobs all over Concord. At one time, he had as many as four jobs he was working. But he didn’t shy away from hard work or doing what needed to be done to finish the job. He would sometimes ask downtown merchants if he could do a little work to earn some cash. If they informed him they couldn’t afford it at that time, he was known to do the work anyway, expecting nothing in return.
Melvin knew everyone. He was no discriminator of persons. If you would talk to him, he’d be happy to talk to you. He would find out your likes and dislikes and remember them. For instance, he knew I am an avid Panthers fan. He was a staunch Cowboys fan. Every time we saw each other, he would make sure to talk a little trash with a smile on his face. Of course, I would dish it right back.
What was astonishing to me, after Melvin’s passing, was not the sheer number of people who
attended his funeral (and the church was packed). It was the diversity within what one person called an, “unlikely congregation”. There were transients, as well as dignitaries of the community. There were rich, poor, people of different religious backgrounds and racial ethnicities. The funeral itself was a testament to Melvin’s life, as we sang “How Great Thou Art”, with a pipe organ to help us, yet also listened to a gospel choir lead a 10-minute impromptu praise service. White and African American pastors spoke in their own unique styles. Yet, somehow, it all made sense because that’s who Melvin was. He didn’t care about how much money you had, or what side of the tracks you were from. You were a person, and that’s all that mattered to him. How much we can learn from the example he set.
Despite his lack of worldly possessions, Melvin had an impact on this community far greater than many of us, with much more means, will ever have. The hole he left will be a hard one to fill. Rest in peace, “Mr. Mayor”.