Freeman's Front Porch Musings

Home of an aspiring writer seeking to improve his craft.

A few words…

I read a book titled All Over but the Shoutin’ this week, and it hit me hard in the heart. The story was authored by Rick Bragg, a celebrated journalist who won the Pulitzer Prize. It’s a memoir of his mother and in some ways, his grandmother. He writes about the South, and the ugliness and grime that is part of our past. He does his mother, grandmother, and The South justice in a way that only a true Southerner can do.

Mr. Bragg doesn’t sugar coat the issue of racism, nor does he mince words concerning our way of life, and the poverty that’s still rampant down here. 

By no means am I old; I just turned fifty for God’s sake, but I do remember spending a couple of summers working on a pulpwood truck. I can remember playing in sections of cut over pine looking for logs big enough for us to make a little money, but that was too small for major logging companies to make their usual profit. 

I remember picking blackberries for .25 cents per gallon, or cutting trailer park squares for $2 per square. I cut small yards for five bucks, but the larger ones cost ten. Gas was .68 cents per gallon when I was a boy. I remember filling up my 1968 Chevelle for twelve dollars. Barrontown Grocery had an old Coke machine that served ice cold Barq’s Root Beer for a quarter. You dropped a quarter in the slot, opened the door, and pulled your glass bottle out. You brought your bottle back when finished, and received a dime for returning the bottle.

Life was much simpler back then. 

We didn’t burn down cities in the name of racial justice. Sure, we had problems. The dumb among us robed themselves in bed sheets and dunce caps and terrorized people because they hated everything different from them. How is burning down cities and businesses any different?

I remember picking forty acre fields of watermelons in the sweltering heat with people of all races. When melon season was drawing down, we cut okra, or threw square hay bales. Field work was always available. It was dirty, and you really needed a bath after a day of melon throwing, but by God you slept the most peaceful sleep. 

Life accelerated in the 1990s, and many things changed in the ensuing years.

Cellphones, internet, and digital television has led us into an age where communication has died, pornography has flourished, and school shootings are the norm. The same people that were poor when I was a boy, are still poor. Mr. Democrat and Mr. Republican have done nothing to improve the lives of the impoverished amongst us. They have pushed division, multiplied troubles, and completely decimated the vision of what America was meant to be.

I apologize for chasing this rabbit trail, but I guess I had to get this out of my system. Anyway, if you like memoirs, check out All Over but the Shoutin’. You’ll be glad you did.

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