We are non-commercial, all volunteer and supported by our readers. Please help sustain the Dew by making a donation.
Louie Crew Clay
Number of posts: 23
Email address: email
By Louie Crew Clay:
more a direction
On July 17, 1936, five months before I was born, an area of 393 acres of wilderness in Alabama’s Talladega County was established as a U.S. National Forest. One of its many glories is Cheaha Mountain, Alabama highest point, visible from our front porch. Dad and I camped out at many different spots in the park throughout most summers while I was growing up, and often we encountered no other human being.
we must dissent
Several friends found it difficult to celebrate the Fourth of July this year. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
I strive not to let these forces win the biggest gift I could give them, namely to shut up and wait out their dominion. Instead, we must wrestle; we must dissent.
keeping care affordable
While Congress dickers with health care, I am taking a close look at my own costs.
I retired on December 31, 2001. In the 15½ years since, my health costs have averaged $4,842.02 per year and have been more than $2,000 for all but one of those years.
In the 17 years before retirement, my medical costs never reached $2,000 a year.
fight for justice and fairness
I have trouble listening to the news, especially when great nonsense is spoken in near perfect Suthun English.
I taught in a secondary modern school in the London in 1965-66 after which I returned to work on my doctorate at the University of Alabama and teach undergraduates. An honors student from one of those classes is coming to visit this afternoon, the first time we have seen each other in 50 years!
God made the funny bone, but it atrophies with disuse. Those of us who closely follow the evening news are highly susceptible to morphing into a sourpuss.
An excellent remedy over the long haul is to give no more than 15 minutes a day to the headlines and redeem the rest of the day by reading good poetry aloud, fly-fishing alone in a huge state or federal park, changing diapers (of the very old or of the newborn), looking in a mirror while sticking out your tongue… Use your imagination. That’s why we have one.
In the hot summer of 1963. Governor George Wallace, already campaigning hard for the 1964 presidential election, made his infamous “stand in the schoolhouse door” of Foster Auditorium, where registration regularly occurred. Wallace summoned the Alabama National Guard to block black student Vivian Malone. Attorney General Robert Kennedy then nationalized the Guard. Thus, at showdown, state’s rights yielded to federal rights; the law of the land was national, not just local.
for a clear style
Academic writing styles sometimes impress more than they enlighten. Professors assign much that is gratuitously opaque. Some students conclude that the way to be considered smart is to master the the professional jargon. Yet, bright people with good ideas need to write clearly if they want discerning readers. For some graduates, a doctorate is the “terminal degree” indeed: few read or publish their manuscripts. When they enter a university, students often write more clearly and forcefully than do many professors.
locust and wild honey
I wish that I could find a way never to think in stereotypes, but I find that stereotypes often seem so matter-of-fact that I don’t even notice them as stereotypes. I have not found a way to abandon them en masse, but only one at a time. The process is usually more painful than it was this time. Ten years ago, on April 10, 2007, I flew to Memphis, rented a car and drove to Tupelo, Mississippi, base of Donald Wildmon‘s hostile American Family Association …
commander in tweet
I admit to retreating often from the evening news, but the acts reported find me through their effects on my friends.
The physician of a friend is also my physician: he has done grafts for lymphedema on both of us. For us he is a miracle worker. Last week he told my friend that new government regulations just put in place will limit anyone to three grafts to be covered; thereafter, amputation will be covered for those who can’t pay for additional grafts on their own.
breaking through deadlocks
A friend recently asked, “Has anyone ever done a study to determine what causes the type of thinking that claims the only people with value are pretty much like me? If we knew this, could we use the knowledge to raise more caring, accepting children in the years ahead?”
I can speak only for how hard I have found it to learn that lesson. My father carefully, painstakingly educated me to have great expectations of people not like me, yet that education took a long time to take hold and become part of my character.
illogical abuse of discourse
With the general election less than two months away, I’m exhausted almost daily putting new batteries into my thinking cap so that I can be a responsible, critical listener to the appeals of all candidates.
I was an English professor for 44 years before I retired in 2001, but I dare not place my brain on automatic pilot given the billions spent to persuade us. In 1958-59, my first year of teaching, without comment I gave to a class at Auburn University, then still under legally mandated segregation, a pamphlet circulated by the Ku Klux Klan …
something of a dilettante
Forty-five years ago today (1971), I was graduated from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa with a Ph.D. in English (Dissertation: Dickens’ Use of Language for Protest). I am grateful for the counsel which Professor James McMillan, then chair of the department, gave me in the hall after I had defended my dissertation: “Up until this point you have been rewarded mainly by writing what experts know. Hereafter, to be taken seriously, you must write what you know which experts have not yet discovered…
communion of saints
April 28th, 2016 was the 111th anniversary of Dad’s birth, in Goodwater, Alabama. I’ve spent much time thinking about him — how close we were; how far apart; how we struggled; how we admired each other; how I picked up some of his worst traits and some of his best; how much more I looked like him last summer when I was 78 (on far left below) than I did when I stood at his left in 1981, when he was 76 and I was 44. I was born in Anniston, Alabama in 1936. I was an only child and close to both parents, but genuinely a mama’s boy…
on the surface
I don’t understand race. An anthropologist colleague says, “Louie, race doesn’t exist as a scientific category. At best a race is just ‘a breeding community with unstable boundaries’; and you and Ernest knock the hell out of that one, don’t you!” I see what she means.
Yet racial categories so pervade my life that I cannot hope to understand myself, much less the world, without sensitive and difficult vigilance regarding pitfalls and opportunities.
love one another
The primates’ effort to suspend the Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion is a major comeuppance in the history of colonialism. At one level, my heart rejoices.
For generations missionaries sought to reform what they deemed the licentiousness of primitives. How delicious it must be to expose the missionaries as licentious and primitive.
“You are anthropologists,” I said. “Suppose you had only these lists as the remains of `The Lottery.’ Obviously you do not have the evidence needed to reconstruct the story, but what evidence in the lists points to what you discovered to be the heart of the story?”
Some played with the puzzle pieces, never discerning any patterns, bored with it all, yet a few wrote their best papers of the semester, pursuing the patterns hidden in the stacks of evidence…
At age 5 I told anyone who asked, and lots who didn’t, “I want to be a doctor in the daytime and a preacher at night.”
Likely that was connected to the two people outside my family whom I most admired, our doctor who lived in the big house on the corner of our block, and our preacher who lived in the big house on the corner of the next block over. The preacher and my dad were classmates at college and in the vacant lots behind our house and in front of his they planted a Victory Garden together…
black lives matter
Richard Rose, President of Atlanta’s NAACP, advocates that we sandblast the bas-relief of Confederates Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, and Robert E. Lee from the face of Stone Mountain.
Months before the havoc wreaked on September 11, 2001, many of us cringed as the Taliban government of Afghanistan destroyed multiple Buddhas. How can destroying icons of another group increase respect and appreciation for your own icons?
marriage equality. life.
Thomas Wolfe was wrong: We can go home again!
As two Suthunahs living in exile in New Joisey — one from Georgia, the other from Alabama — we share a photo essay of our 41-year marriage which today the Supreme Court made legal in every state of the union.
Samuel A. Ward was organist and choirmaster of our parish in Newark, NJ, when he wrote “America the Beautiful.” “Thy fruited plane” indeed. “Thy liberty in law,” Amen.
southern life circa 1944
While I, Louie Crew Clay, narrate the story as if fiction, it actually is nonfiction and I have changed only the names. I wrote it to expose to myself as to any readers the arrogance racism taught me. Childhood is not all that “innocent” when the privileged teach our young to devalue and disrespect others. I hope that by my preserving the privileged little boy’s insensitivity, we will see what he saw but with our thinking caps on and our eyes wide open.
Rome, Georgia. Summer 1960
In the summer after my first year of teaching, the headmaster summoned me to his office.
“Louie,” he said, “a parent has complained about the list of six books you require returning juniors to read. He says he knows his son will learn to curse soon enough, but he resents paying good money to have you require him to read cursing.”
behaving like christians
When I met Ernest, we courted for five months, and after we married, on February 2, 1974, in Fort Valley, GA. That was 40 years ago. I wrote my parents in Anniston, AL. They replied with the hardest letter that I have ever received. They knew I was gay. That was not their problem. Ernest’s being black was the hard part for them. In their letter they wished us all happiness but asked me not to bring Ernest home with me.
Review of Playing By The Book by Chris Shirley. Magnus Books, Bronx, NY, 2014. 305 pages.
If you are willing to love your lgbtq neighbor as you love yourself, Playing By The Book will assist you, not so much with argument as with passion. The novel immerses the reader into the passions of Jake Powell during the summer between his junior and senior year in high school in Tarsus, Alabama.