Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Juniper Road

... by Hal Duvall.

The story takes place in South Carolina during the Depression. Woodrow Wilson Jones, becomes a young man in just a matter of a few pages, as he discovers hard work and poverty in the rural south. His father has been sent to a sanatorium leaving him in charge of the family. As the story begins, Wilson is trying to get a job with a work crew clearing property for a future state park, only to realize that at 14, he is too young. The recruiter suggests he come back in a couple of days, once he's matured a bit. So, on Monday, four years older, he secures the job, proving to be a diligent worker. Once this job ends, Wilson lands a job in the small town's hardware store as an afternoon clerk. He falls in love with a local girl, Betsy, befriends the recruiter, Tom Stone - soon to be a local lawyer, and comes to the defense of a "colored" friend and neighbor, whose father has been falsely arrested on a charge of arson. Wilson, determined to help clear his friend's father of all charges, seeks help and comes to their aid. Wilson, as most young men of his stature, joins the army in search of a future more meaningful than the life he foresaw by staying behind in a small, country town overcome with poverty and unemployment. But Hal, we've got to know what happens to Wilson!

The story is told with authenticity, reflecting the devastating times of the 30's due to poverty, segregation, and unemployment. It portrays the warmth of a small community yet reveals the harsh realities of racial segregation and poverty. The story takes me back to Cheraw, SC and stirs a desire to dig into the past, learning more about that "prettiest little town in Dixie."

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