Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

Jay Lamar, Jeanie Thompson

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pp. ix-xvi

Nineteen writers who claim Alabama kin have contributed essays to The Remembered Gate: Memoirs by Alabama Writers. Each one approaches the journey back with opened-eye frankness. We are invited to observe what is sometimes a harrowing experience, sometimes a playful, even wistful look back. However, in everyone of...

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Coming through the Fire

C. Eric Lincoln

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pp. 1-17

I shall always be sentimental about Alabama. It used to be my home. There were cotton fields and clay pits, and an abandoned limestone quarry where we swam in the summertime. And there were dusty roads like velvet to the tough soles of our bare feet. And creeks full of perch. And peach orchards to rob. And snakes not to...

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What Do You Do for the Place?

Patricia Foster

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pp. 18-34

"There was a time I was pushed to the river and didn't intend to jump," Ora says, pressing her hands tight together, then dropping them flat to her lap. "It was that gas man who did it. Came 'round here every week to check our meters, then started showing his privates, trying to get in the house at my girls."...

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The Truth the Heart Knows

Fannie Flagg

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pp. 35-38

My contribution to this book will be short, not because I have nothing much to say. On the contrary, my problem is I have too much to say and could fill this book and many others about what being from Alabama has and does mean to me. Alabama is so much a part of me and who I am as a person. It has shaped the way I look at the world...

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Swing Low: A Memoir

Mary Ward Brown

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pp. 39-52

The first version of this memoir was to preserve a few scenes, often talked about and laughed about on our farm, between my father and William Edwards, a black man on the place. The bond between William and my mother, however, took over and propelled it. For the sake of narrative, I fictionalized when necessary and called it...

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The Humanistic Black Heritage of Alabama

James Haskins

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pp. 53-60

There is something about growing up black in Alabama that has historically encouraged one to strive for excellence. I have researched the lives of a number of black men and women of distinction. My interest was, and always has been, wide-ranging. I have always considered "professionals" in a broad sense. I would include...

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Growing Up a Poet in Alabama

Andrew Glaze

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pp. 61-79

Growing up as a poet in Alabama is—or at least used to be—not only a contradiction in terms, but also a pretty risky business, accomplished if possible, in secret. Because by traditional Alabama and southern standards, poets were parasites, communists, oddities, creeps, lepers, blasphemers, and Antichrists, unless they were little...

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Stalking an Early Life

Helen Norris

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pp. 80-95

It gives me pleasure to report that my first memory, a most vivid one, is of standing on the observation platform of a train backing into a station. I am holding my mother's hand. Surrounding us in the station are many people shouting and waving their arms. They do not seem to be angry, but they are certainly noisy. I look up at my mother...

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Learning to Swim

Wayne Greenhaw

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pp. 96-110

During the summer when I was eight, a white-haired black man showed up in the field behind the red-brick schoolhouse and promised the world. His name was Jed, and his eyes burn into my memory unto this day. They were coal-black eyes in a sea of red-veined liquid white, bulging from pain-pocked scaly-looking dark...

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The Other Sun of God

Nanci Kincaid

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pp. 111-133

We had an old brown Chevy, the kind that was all curve and bumper and made you think of a solid-built woman wearing chrome jewelry. In the summers my parents, two younger brothers, and I climbed in the womb of this wide-hipped, slow-going car in hopes of eventually being delivered someplace far more interesting...

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The Ghosts in My Grandmother's Attic

Robert Inman

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pp. 134-146

There are ghosts in my grandmother's attic. They are quite durable and persistent ghosts. They have survived floods, wars, and assorted other human and natural tragedies. Maybe they have endured because the attic is a safe harbor, a place where ghosts feel at home, no matter what ill winds blow outside...

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Alabama Breakdown

Andrew Hudgins

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pp. 147-161

In my late twenties, when I was living in Montgomery, I was invited to read my poems at a brown-bag lunch at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture. The cheerful people who showed up on the University of Mississippi campus for lunch that day had not come to see me. They couldn't have. I'd published only a handful of poems...

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The First Place

Phyllis Alesia Perry

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pp. 162-167

Nineteen sixty-five.
My mama's mother stands at the edge of the red-water pond. She is a rounded mountain of warm brown.
We have walked through the pasture to get here, past my grandfather's lazily drifting cattle. The woods make their noises...

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A Half Mile of Road in North Alabama

Rodney Jones

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pp. 168-181

Briefly, I would like to illuminate the community where I grew up: small houses about a quarter of a mile apart, of whitewashed or unpainted clapboard, each with a well and outhouse, the larger houses with barns, chicken coops, toolsheds, and smokehouses. These were the late fifties and sixties, and we were small farmers...

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When the Opry Was in Ryman and We Still Believed in God

William Cobb

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pp. 182-192

Cletus Hickey was the most terrifying bully I encountered in my youth. He wore overalls without a shirt and was a head taller and fifty pounds heavier than anyone else in the fourth grade at Demopolis Elementary School. I have no idea how old he was. I only know that he could high jump over the large fifty-five-gallon...

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The Heart of Dixie

Frye Gaillard

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pp. 193-203

There are memories now of the Alabama summers and a farm in rural Montgomery County, a rolling piece of Black Belt prairie where the Muskogee people hunted buffalo and deer. In the 1950s it was a tamer place as I came to know it—nearly two thousand acres near the Lowndes County line, where the white-faced cattle...

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Thunderhoof and the Mantel Clock

Sena Jeter Naslund

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pp. 204-219

I was a scabby child, one who played hard and sometimes got in biting, hair-pulling fights with other girls; with my brothers' friends, I wrestled, raced, and occasionally had my hands laced into maroon, junior boxing gloves for a round or two. Wearing seersucker trunks and no top, in this corner ... One of my brothers was my coach...

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Growing Up in Alabama: A Meal in Four Courses, Beginning with Dessert

Charles Gaines

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pp. 220-229

We are made who we are by our appetites and how we indulge them. Don't ever let anyone tell you that is not one of the truest things you can know: on a par with character is fate. In fact, I'll marry the two of them for you right now, like the cheddar and bacon in one of my favorite omelets: Appetite is Character...

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Coming Home

Judith Hillman Paterson

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pp. 230-251

I left Montgomery in 1980, shaking the dust off my feet. Never wanted to see the place again. Alabama was backward, a bad place to be a woman, and too damned hot. Never mind that I'd spent the first forty years of my life there and didn't have a soul anywhere else on this earth who loved me...

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Epilogue: Regional Particulars and Universal Implications

Albert Murray

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pp. 252-258

As a very ambitious writer who would like to create fiction that will be of major interest not only as American literature but also as a part of contemporary writing in the world at large, I must say I am not primarily concerned with recording what it is like or what it means to be a southerner or even a down-home grandson of slaves...

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Afterword - Mark Kennedy

Mark Kennedy

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pp. 259-260

The way sunlight casts shadows on the ground through the dying leaves of September reminds me of the languid days of the summer's end. A certain smell evokes memories of my mother's room and how her perfume drifted and lingered there. The incandescent glow of a firefly gives me pause to remember the sound of bare feet...

Contributors

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pp. 261-267