GROWING UP SOUTHERN: Southern Exposure Looks at Childhood, Then and Now by Chris--Ed. Mayfield

GROWING UP SOUTHERN: Southern Exposure Looks at Childhood, Then and Now

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A choice selection of Southern childhood memories meandering from historical sources to oral history narrators, from contemporary writers to schoolchildren. Most come graced with crisp images (raw sweet potato snacks, teachers in stiff black dresses); many include evidence of racism or race consciousness; and a few (editor Mayfield's piece on day care, another's on foster-care drift) focus on broadly relevant issues in no way indigenous to the South. Larry Goodwyn writes of Texas-style football in the late 1930s, when UT dominated college football and the lives of the local Knot Hole Gang. Lou Holloway and Alferdteen Harrison recall the Rays of Rhythm, the Piney Woods School's female jazz band that toured the South in black satin pants in the 1940s. Will Campbell tells of a schoolboy effort to defy the Health Department's search for hookworms; a North Carolina mill worker repeats some of the community's flavorful sayings (""You can get used to anything but hanging""); and a former medicine show performer tells of his hoboing days (""I rode more freight trains than I have days to live""). Many, however, share harsher memories--of a girlfriend's dispiriting encounters with incest, of routine sadism in a boys' reformatory, of ""nigger-knocking"" in Birmingham after Methodist Sunday Fellowship, of Elizabeth Eckford desegregating Little Rock High alone because her family missed the call directing her to stay home. Unhurried glimpses of childhood in a balanced, involving album.

Pub Date: July 20th, 1981
Publisher: Pantheon