Happy feast of St. Jerome!
I had a lengthy post about him last year. Go here for that. Don’t forget – he’s in the Loyola Kids Book of Saints.
And coming up next week…St. Francis. Do you have Adventures in Assisi?
Well. That was a day.
That would be today. It was pretty crazy, and I was tempted at points to be irritated that I was not “getting anything done.”
But of course I was getting it done. I was seeing new things, reflecting upon them, and encountering interesting people. All life, all fodder, all worth taking in.
It started with chickens.
I’m part of a small group that purchases free-range organic tuxedo-wearing, non-smoking, teetotling chickens from a farm about an hour north of here. We take turns with the once-a-month pickup. I was scheduled to go in October, but the September driver fell ill, so we switched. It’s all for the best. I’ll be starting the last stages of the next Big Project at that point, and I won’t want to take a day to drive to Hartselle, Alabama to get chickens at that stage in the process, I’m sure.
Last year when it was my turn, my homeschooler and I went up, but we got a late start and so didn’t have time to see anything else that might be in the neighborhood. This year, even though I’m sadly on my own, I decided to try to get away earlier and see the sights. What sights could there be, you ask?
Well, Hartselle has a cute little main street filled with antique shops and few cafes – I’m guessing it’s postioned itself as an afternoon antiquing destination for folks from Huntsville – or even those driving down to the Gulf Coast on 65.
The green storefront marks a pool hall. When I walked by the open door early afternoon on a Thursday, there were quite a few older fellows in there, shooting pool and sitting along the wall, watching.
. — 3 —
What interested me most of all was Hartselle’s most well-known son, whom I’d just read about the night before – William Bradford Huie. Huie, born in Hartselle, returned to live there later in life and is buried there, and was a fairly well-known and sometimes controversial journalist and novelist of the mid-20th century. He graduated from the University of Alabama, and then went to write for magazines like Look and Colliers and served as editor of the American Mercury, H.L. Mencken’s magazine.
Huie had an infallible eye for an important story, and in 1955, this instinct led him to one of the most controversial pieces of his career. In August of that year, 14-year-old Emmett Till, a black youth from Chicago, was murdered in the Mississippi Delta in retaliation for his alleged sexual advances toward a white woman. His killers, two white half-brothers, were acquitted by an all-white jury. Shortly after their acquittal, Huie, with the financial backing of Look magazine, paid the two men for their story, in which they admitted to the murder, a controversial practice sometimes derided as “checkbook journalism.” The Till case set the tone for much of the remainder of Huie’s career, which gravitated to race-related crimes and some of the most notorious murders of the civil rights movement, including the murders of the three civil rights workers in Mississippi during Freedom Summer (Three Lives for Mississippi), as well as the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. (He Slew the Dreamer). In both cases, Huie claimed to have paid sources, including Martin Luther King’s accused assassin, James Earl Ray, for their stories, a practice for which he was frequently criticized.In 1957, Huie moved back to Alabama to live full-time and continued to work as a freelance writer for the rest of his life. Ruth Huie died in 1973, and in 1977 he married his second wife, Martha Hunt Robertson ofGuntersville. His work on race-related crimes and his frequent and outspoken criticism ofGovernor George Wallace made him a continuing source of controversy, and although he was a commercial success, he was not always popular among his fellow Alabamians. In 1967, Huie’s public outspokenness led to a much-publicized
His most well-known books are, I’d say, the novel The Americanization of Emily (made into a film starring Julie Andrews and James Garner) and the nonfiction The Execution of Private Slovik – which tells the story of the only American WWII deserter to be executed, and which was made into a made-for-TV movie starting Martin Sheen.
From Hartselle, Alabama!
Appropriately enough, the library is named after him.
And it houses an exhibit on his life and work – the “archives.” The library is in a former bank building so these archives are…in the old vault. I want my life to be memorialized in a bank vault, for sure.
— 4 —
And then I got the chickens.
And then I saw the IronMan.
He’s probably over a hundred years old and was forged as an advertisement for VegeCal – an Alabama-produced liver tonic with 12% alcohol content.
Raced back to town, delivered chickens, got one kid, dropped him at piano, raced to another school to get two more, took them home, then back to piano to get the first one, back home..cooked dinner. Yes, cooked– I had prepared some bacon this morning and made Spaghetti Carbonara – once you do the bacon, it takes 15 minutes – and then it was back out to the Homewood Library to see…
— 5 —
Ben is the author illustrator of so many charming picture books and graphic novels. Zita the Space Girl has just been optioned for film. Ben’s on tour mostly promoting his new graphic novel Mighty Jack, and he also read his very fun picture book Nobody Likes a Goblin. He had spoken at a couple of schools today and was doing this library session before moving on to Wichita – go see him if you are there! It was great to meet him and have my 12-year old who carries around many stories in his head hear a different take on the creative process.
And…in my haste, I didn’t get any photos. Unbelievable. Well, here are the books I bought and that Ben signed…
I have three adult children. They live in different parts of the country and have very different lives and schedules. One is married with a child and does data analysis (I think). One is in law school. The oldest works in television. I don’t think they communicate on a daily basis.
But here’s what happens with intriguing frequency.
One of them calls me to talk. About 75% of the time, either another one will call right after I’m finished with the first one, or the call waiting from them will start beeping in the middle of the first call. And once that’s over, there’s another very high probability that the third one – whichever one is left – will call me within two or three hours.
I cannot tell you how many times that’s happened. It’s so strange.
Advent is coming…….tell your parish coordinator people. There will be a Spanish-language edition as well.
For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!