Chervis Isom

Chervis Isom

Chervis Isom was born in rural Franklin County, Alabama, located in the northwestern part of Alabama in the hill country, from where his parents had originated. His family moved to Birmingham when he was a young child of three to four years of age, to the urban community of Norwood. It was there in Norwood where he delivered newspapers during his adolescence. He attended Norwood Grammar School, Phillips High School (1957), Birmingham-Southern College (B.A. English and Philosophy, 1962) and Cumberland School of Law of Samford University (J.D., 1967).

Upon graduation from Law School, he accepted an offer to practice law in the small firm of Berkowitz, Lefkovits, Vann, Patrick & Smith. Thirty-six years later, the firm of Berkowitz, Lefkovits, Isom & Kushner merged its practice with the multi-state law firm of Baker Donelson Bearman & Caldwell, adding the name “Berkowitz” to its name. He is now a shareholder in the Birmingham, Alabama office of Baker Donelson Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC, having practiced law in Birmingham for 46 years with the same firm. The former Chair of the Real Estate Practice Group in Birmingham, he has worked extensively throughout the South with developers and real estate professionals from all walks of life. As a working writer, Chervis has spent countless hours over the past five years visiting and recalling the Norwood community of his childhood and youth on the north side of Birmingham, and now serves on the Board of Directors of the Norwood Resource Center. During the course of writing his recollections, he has happily rekindled old friendships, has moved with his wife, Martha, from the suburbs to downtown Birmingham, and has become active in community affairs. In 2014, Chervis Isom published his book The Newspaper Boy: Coming of Age in Birmingham, Alabama, During the Civil Rights Era available at See an interview with Chervis Isom, here.


He pointed to large, raised letters near the end of the dusty eight inch steel pipe. With one swipe, I brushed them clean. “Made in Belgium,” I muttered, as if he needed my translation. Then he stalked away. I studied the dozens of identical pipe stacked in the yard. The electric grinder he had given me, now hanging from my hand, seemed wholly inadequate for the job I had been told to do.

As I dithered, trying to figure out the best way to begin, I noticed the colored guy—they called him Arizona—watching me. His neutral face showed no emotion, but I knew he must have been amused to watch a college boy flounder in ignorance and incompetence.

How do I begin? I wondered. Is there a place to sit? If I sit on the pipe, will it roll? There must be a trick to this somehow. Arizona watched quietly. After a few moments, I looked at him. “You done this before?” (more…)