Books Again

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Betty Smith moved to Chapel Hill, NC in the late 1930s. She wrote A Tree Grows in Brooklyn in North Carolina. The book was published in 1943. I read the book when Jim and I moved to Brooklyn in 1957. We lived on Argyle Road - a tree-lined street of turn of the century Victorian houses. Nothing like Francie's world as Smith wrote about it..

Jim and I moved to Chapel Hill in 1961. We rented a teeny tiny cottage on North Street that was 2 blocks from Betty Smith's gracious two story white house with tall columns at the front door. When I walked my babies in the neighborhood I hoped I would see her in the yard but I never did. None of this relates to the book itself but it keeps it alive in my memories.

The Sand Pebbles by Richard McKenna

It isn't that this is such a wonderful book - its that I met the author. Richard McKenna came to Manly Wade Wellman's night school writing class at the University of North Carolina to speak to our class of aspiring writers. We were a small group and he was open and friendly. He talked about his years on a merchant ship and working at his writing on his own. He and our teacher Manly Wade Wellman, a lesser known working writer, bantered about the trials of the writing game. I was wide-eyed and enjoying listening to their "insiders" conversation.

Maybe you saw the movie, The Sand Pebbles with Steve McQueen.

Over the years I have run across a wide selection of the published works of Manly Wade
Wellman from local ghost stories to North Carolina history. He once talked about writing for his supper and I came to see that he was really doing that. Being a writer was not glamorous to him; writing was his job.