Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Alvin Ailey on Chauncey Green, the friend who saved his life


Ailey describes his “blood memories” and growing up during the Great Depression in Texas, where he met a friend who had a lasting impact on his life. “Chauncey saved my life. … Chauncey Green, I shall never forget him.”


- [Narrator] I have this creative side bubbling inside.

Dark, deep things, beautiful things inside of me that I'd always been trying to get out.

My blood memories, the memories of my parents, uncles, and aunts, blues and the Gospel songs that I knew from Texas.

I was born in Depression, 1931, tough times, rural country.

I remember being glued to my mother's hip.

Sloshing through the terrain, branches slashing against a child's body, going from one place to another.

Looking for a place to be.

My mother off working in the fields.

I used to pick cotton.

I was only about four.

I remember the sunsets.

I remember people moving in the twilight.

(wind swooshing) My father was never there.

I never knew my father.

I never saw my father.

I remember my good friend, Chauncey Green.

We'd run through the fields together, through the brambles, being Texas boys.

(melancholy music playing) Chauncey saved my life.

One day I fell into an enormous pool of water, almost drowned.

But he grabbed me and as he pushed all the water out, he also laid down on top of me.

We used to sort of rub up against each other and all that.

Chauncey Green, I shall never forget him.


PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.