Same Kind of Different As Me: A Modern-Day Slave, An International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together

by Ron Hall and Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2006. Pp. 246. Photographs.)

This story is such a moving and personal memoir, especially for a Texan or other Southerner. Same Kind of Different As Me: A Modern-Day Slave, An International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together is written by two very diverse individuals as the title indicates. Denver Moore is an independent-minded, nomadic refugee from a Louisiana slave-like setting. He ends up in Fort Worth, Texas. Ron Hall, an unlikely high society art dealer, hails from humble Fort Worth beginnings. The book is the true tale of how their paths crossed, diverged, intersected again and melded. Because of the details of their stories this is a sensational read for North Texans or Northwest Louisianans where their stories are set.

The authors alternate chapters while relating their stories from childhood to adulthood when they meet at a Fort Worth soup kitchen. This story is fascinating to me in part because it reminds me of things I witnessed growing up in the south in the 1950s. Though etched in my memory, my recollections are fuzzy in many instances. Reading about Moore’s experiences reminded me of things I had almost forgotten such as separate drinking fountains labeled “White” and “Colored.” These are things younger people have never experienced and might even find hard to believe but they were still present even as late as 1960. Moore’s story is all too true of how some people did not and still cannot accept persons of a different skin color as an equal human being.

“Hey there, Dallas,” I’d (Hall) say whenever I saw him. “How’re you doing today?”

Most of the time, he ignored me. But sometimes, his yellowing eyes skewered me with a look that said, “Leave. Me. Alone.” Which I would have been only too happy to do had it not been for my wife.

After a couple of months of this, someone at the mission heard me call Dallas “Dallas” and laughed at me like I was the town idiot. “His name ain’t Dallas, fool. It’s Denver.”

Well, maybe that’s why he looks disgusted every time I speak to him, I thought, suddenly hopeful.

“Hey, Denver!” I called the very next time I saw him out at the Dumpster. He never even looked at me. The man was about as approachable as an electric cattle fence.”

Another aspect of the tale I find gripping, is the woman who actually got Moore and Hall together, Debbie Hall. Her story is told by both Hall and Moore. As husband, Hall gives the intimate details of her life and struggle with cancer. As friend and aficionado, Moore shares his narrative with compassion and devotion. Debbie Hall sounds like someone I would have liked to know. She was a passionate lover of life, family and friends and a compassionate woman of God who reached out to those in dire need of a friend and a confidante.

The poignant black and white photographs sprinkled in the middle of the book, help me better envision the people behind the words. These few photos help to place these people as real persons, not cardboard characters in a made up story. The account of the final weeks of Debbie’s illness were so authentic, raw, traumatic that I was in tears even though I knew from the beginning of the book she died.

The story of her faith is there, but it is not an overriding feature of the book. So readers who do not embrace the Christian faith will enjoy the tale of Hall and Moore without fear of receiving a sermon. And, for readers who are Christians, they will be heartened at her courage—both while living and dying.

Graphic in many of the gritty details of their lives, the authors of Same Kind of Different As Me impart a compelling and empowering message of their odyssey which extended across and beyond the barriers of race, faith and lifestyle to touch the lives of contemporary readers.

Fran “Texan” Gilmore