THAT'S LAUDERDALE

Column: Port Royal ambassador steps aside at age 90

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comJuly 10, 2014 

Silas Green at Port Royal Town Hall on July 7. He recently retired from the town staff at age 90.

STAFF PHOTO

The town of Port Royal took a step into the future this week by adopting a new logo and tagline to present a fresh face to the world.

The tagline -- "Cool. Coastal. Far From Ordinary" -- goes with an anchor logo that says the village near Beaufort was established in 1562.

At the same time, the town is looking back, saying goodbye to a more old-fashioned ambassador. Silas Green has just retired from his part-time job with the town, at age 90.

"He's been around town, speaking to everybody," Mayor Sam Murray said. "And everybody speaks to him."

Green's main job was to tidy up the town parks and The Sands on the waterfront. Five mornings a week, he could be found emptying the trash cans. At the same time, he answered questions from tourists, perhaps telling them how to find the Port Royal Rookery and Cypress Wetland Trail, or MoonDoggies Cafe & Grill.

"He has a good personality," the mayor said. "Everybody respects him."

This spring, Green was honored by the town as an official ambassador.

When Green grew up in the Jericho Point area of Burton, he would've had to row a boat across Battery Creek to get to Town Hall.

Conventional wisdom dictated that the eldest son among nine children born to Jonas and Janie Green wasn't going to see much of the world. He was an African American in a segregated society with limited educational opportunities.

His father farmed in addition to working a civil service job on Parris Island.

About segregation, Green said: "I took life as it was. I didn't give, but I didn't take either."

That meant he minded his own business but didn't let anybody walk over him.

When World War II broke out, Green saw plenty of the world. He was aboard a Navy vessel that sailed into Normandy several weeks after D-Day. He saw Cuba and Great Britain.

After the war, Green joined a different type of army -- Southern blacks streaming north to seek opportunity. He wanted to be a mechanic in the Cadillac of them all, Detroit. But he had kin in New Jersey, and that's where he landed. He would eventually move west and become a field supervisor for the Diamond Shamrock Corp.

Green and his wife, the late Irene Williams Green, raised six children up North but always knew they would come back home.

In retirement, Green built a home in Port Royal and enjoyed his leisure until "finally, I got broke."

He took a job with the town of Port Royal about 15 years ago. He has remarried, to Patricia Washington Green. He's chairman of the deacons at Bethlehem Baptist Church, sings in two choirs and tends to a grapefruit tree in the yard that produces 10 bushels of fruit most years.

If anyone cared to listen to the quiet ambassador talk about his days on this earth, he would say, "Do the right thing. Work hard. Live right and everything will be all right. Remember that actions speak louder than words.

"The old folks used to say, 'Respect will take you where money won't.' That's true. You have to respect yourself, and you have to respect others."

The old ambassador turns out to be cool, coastal and far from ordinary.

Follow columnist David Lauderdale at twitter.com/ThatsLauderdale.

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