The Bookshelf, The Parlor, The Young Texas Reader, and the Monthly

The Texas Bookshelf is different from the The Texas Parlor, . The Texas Parlor carries "general" bookish information and non-book information and even different Texana news and notes of use to the bibliographically challenged and other nosey folks intersted in historical, literary, and cultural observations. Will's Texana Monthly may carry material from either blog, but extends itself beyond those, especially for longer compilations or treatments. The Monthly, the Bookshelf and the Parlor are all companions. So, is the Young Texas Reader which specialized on books and such things for the youngest to the teenagers.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Harvest of Tears - Betty Pelly Smith

  Harvest of Tears, 2nd edition.  Betty Pelley Smith.  Denton:  Zone Press, 2007.  Paperback, 399 pages.  ISBN 0-9777558-5-1 $18.95
Betty Pelly Smith was born in the Sherman, Texas of 1924 and subsequently lived across the nation.   Two decades ago she returned to Sherman.  The childhood she would like to recall would be almost idyllic.  She had kind and loving parents, watchful neighbors, a supportive faith family.    
But, the social pestilence of the Depression visited the community and over-stayed its welcome.  As jobs vanished, the stark twins of reality and fear ate rough spots on the veneer of civilization.  Some folks got desperate.   A deeper poison seeps to the surface.  That racism scarred her soul that happened to be sheathed in a white skin.  Smith writes, "I was 5 years old when I saw the Sherman courthouse burn and saw a body hanging from a tree. In my 5-year-old mind, I remember thinking, I thought he was black. All I see is white, as only white bones were hanging there. I was haunted all my life by this sight. I could not understand how anyone could do such a horrible thing." The legacy of the Sherman Race Riots flickered more oft than it should have in Smith's long life. 
Her fictionalized account of other such days lures the reader onward as the naïve, little girl's eyewitness account describes her experiences.  In the story, Elizabeth, the substitute for Betty's emotions, personally faces the physical violence meted out to the designated scapegoats.  As for the plot, Elizabeth's family cares for the children, while Elizabeth's African American friend, Sam, becomes the target of Sam, the malevolent bully.

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