Praying for Sheetrock by Melissa Fay Greene
Praying for Sheetrock by Melissa Fay
An accident occurred in June of 1971, long before the construction of the Interstate-95 motorway, involving two trucks on the old Highway 17. The highway is usually characterized by traffic slamming down passing through the coastal saltmarsh and the pine-woods found in McIntosh County, in South Georgia, on the road to Florida. One of the tracks was filled with shoes and the sheriff, Tom Poppell, generously permitted the black people who had gathered wordlessly around the burning truck to take one box after another. The boxes were filled with good leather shoes, red, black and green shoes that a vast majority of them could never be able to buy on their own; all draped in tissue paper. The sheriff stood throughout the day under a sky like coals with his legs spread on the highway. Giving directions to the flowing traffic while the road crews swept and shovelled, and hundreds of local households helped themselves to a box after box of expensive shoes. They showed gratitude to Sheriff Poppell for his licenced pilferage, and the Sheriff, to demonstrate his acknowledgement of their tribute, silently gestured with one hand.
It is with this expressive impression of the South, which is a mixture of feudal power, poverty and lawlessness, still enduring. Almost a decade following the end of the second great liberation of 1964, that the author, Greene starts the masterly book. The tenderness and …
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