Louisville Magazine

AUG 2018

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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66 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.18 Photos by Jessica Ebelhar Syl and Johnny were secretly married at a small Southern Indiana wedding chapel, with plans that she would visit Johnny in California during summers until she graduated college. But she quickly found out she was pregnant. "at changed the whole game plan," she says. She dropped out and followed Johnny into two decades of military-base life in California and North Carolina. eir first child, Johnny Jr., was born while they were stationed at the El Toro base near Irvine, California, with sons Alonza and Anthony to follow. ey were raised as military brats in spartan base housing and apartments in places like Camp Lejeune. Activism wasn't exactly encouraged, so Syl learned about the civil rights movement in newspapers. "You were aware of it and knew it existed, but you'd gotten away from it. For some reason you seemed isolated," she says. "It was a rude awakening when we came out (of the military). You know, and all this turmoil is going on." For the boys, being a military family meant getting to experience beaches, karate and horseback riding. Johnny was a strict disciplinarian, which Syl worked to temper. "She was like our lawyer; she'd try to save us when we got in trouble," Johnny Jr. recalls. "I remember there was a creek behind the housing units where we lived. ere was a rope swing. We'd get sopping wet in that creek every time. My father said, 'Don't go down there.' Of course, the very next day we went down there. Alonza fell in. So we snuck back to the house, changed clothes real quick before (our father) got back." eir dad knew right away, saying, "Boy, you all been down to the creek." "He pulled off the military belt, ready to give us a whooping," Johnny Jr. says. "My mother came in and said, 'Don't whoop them! ey're just kids.' My mother was very kind-hearted and loving." By 1971, Johnny was a Marine retiree at 37. e family returned to Louisville, purchasing a picturesque two-story brick home with white shutters and a neat green lawn on Loretto Avenue, near Shawnee Park. Johnny got a job as a gate security guard at the Ford plant, and Syl found work first as a switchboard operator, then later in the accounting department at American Standard. But by

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