15 Barefootz & Blood

Above: Some of the racist publications of varying levels of vitriol that I discovered in my parents' basement. No, neither Mom nor Dad was ever sympathetic in the least to Nazis or the Klan, but he liked to track the social currents that flowed around him and no doubt collected whatever printed debris floated within reach for future study.

On the virulence scale The Dixie Patriot, the fictional racist newspaper in Stuck Rubber Baby, lies somewhere between the Birmingham Independent, pictured above, and an even more hate-filled Georgia-based paper of that era called The Augusta Courier, of which I regrettably have no copies. A college friend of mine subscribed to the Courier for the sole purpose of bringing copies to the college snack bar and regaling us with derisive readings of its more outrageous columns. This perverse mode of entertainment inspired some similar behavior from Riley in my book.

The Birmingham Independent made a habit during the turbulent '60s of publishing the names, addresses, and (when possible) photographs of any white Birminghamians who were spotted participating in protests against racial segregation. My friend Eileen Walbert (the source of several anecdotes that were fictionalized in my novel) told me with amusement how she once contacted The Independent to request a print of the photograph of her that they had published recently. Fortunately, her mischief did not provoke consequences of the dire sort that befall Sammy Noone when he does the same thing in SRB.

LETTER TO KINNY AND ALASTAIR (October 17, 1991)

… I’m reasonably happy with the first six chapters (48 pages). What I’ve done isn’t flawless, by any means, but I think I’ve laid groundwork in an interesting way for the pyrotechnics that will follow. Actually, it’s in chapter seven that the first serious bloodletting will occur, alerting readers to the fact that this is definitely neither Wendel nor Barefootz that they’re reading!