Thinking about “The Butler” and Erskine Caldwell

If the movie “The Butler” seems far-fetched or unbelievable try reading Erskine Caldwell’s “Trouble in July.” It was written in 1940 by a Southerner whose sympathies squared with the working class. It’s a simple story of a young black field hand unfairly accused of raping a psychotic young white girl. It’s a horrific tale of group evil. Warning: there is no happy ending. The beautiful hard copy issue was reissued by The Beehive Press, a Savannah-based organization doing its best to keep books like this alive. Included in the book are gorgeous black and white photographs by Jack Delano, one of a handful of photographers such as Gordon Parks, Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans hired by the Farm Security Administration to document rural life. Caldwell is best known for “Tobacco Road.”

A 1940 Erskine Caldwell novel of rural South

The rusty Radio Flyer lives

If necessity is the mother of invention then the Radio Flyer is the perfect shallow vessel to hold itty-bitty broccoli seeds while they germinate. It’s even rusty. So much earlier than bending down to thin and transplant and baby. I know I’m shrinking but it’s still a long way down to ground level. Why didn’t I think of this earlier? I guess I was still direct-seeding and hoping for the best. Nothing wrong with that. I’m just getting a little more “intentional,” to use a 70’s kind of word.

New use for old Radio Flyer