THE GOOD OLD BOYS by Paul Hemphill


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Books on the mystique of the old, redneck, cracker-barrel South continue to draw the rest of America, viz., the writings of Willie Morris, Larry L. King, Albert Murray and now Hemphill, sportswriter and ""human interest"" columnist of the Atlanta Journal. There's probably more nostalgia in these recollections of the good old boy drinking whiskey and rye than the sonofabitch deserves -- Hemphill is willing to shrug off the fact that he's ""half-educated, vengeful, regressive, sadistic and by all means, a racist"" and just appreciate him as a colorful relic. Beginning with recollections of his father, a truck-driving, hard-drinking King of the Road and moving on to the failed baseball players of yesteryear who played for teams like the Graceville (pop. 2,500) Oilers and maybe once made it to spring training with the Orioles back in 1956. And further on to Country Music in Nashville where Merle Haggard drives 'em into a frenzy with Okie from Muskogee (""We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee, and we don't take our trips on LSD. . . we still wave O1' Glory down at the Courthouse, white lightning's still the biggest thrill of all""). It's the kind of personal journalism that's made of everyday dross Southern style -- the Roller Derby, the Old Grad at an Auburn football game, Lester Maddox, the hellfire evangelist, the Rotarian, the last of the mountain moonshiners. A vanishing South conjured up out of personal mythologies and a strong sense of loss.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1974
Publisher: Simon & Schuster