The Golden Child (1991)

Excerpt from The Cover Story:

If she were alive, she'd be sixty-seven. But she died at nine, in agony. And so while she lives in a few minds still, she lives by the name she was always called in family stories —Little Frances. The stories were few and remarkably sketchy, as if my endlessly tale-telling kin knew they must use her but could hardly bear to portray her fate on the bolt of wearable goods they wove from the lives of all our blood and neighbors.

We knew she was "both her parents' eyeballs," a local expression which meant "their all." Her father was "Stooks" Rodwell, my mother's youngest brother. Her mother was "Toots," from Portsmouth, Virginia; and all their married life, the two lived there. By the time I knew them, Frances was dead; and they showed how badly scarred they were. Stooks was roughshod and raucous, the family cynic. Toots was acid and managerial, though both craved fun and were as loyal in trouble as good sheepdogs.

Before I was five, I knew nearly all I'd ever know about Frances. She was blond and fine to see. She fell while skating on the concrete sidewalk and scraped a leg. The scrape got infected but seemed to heal. Then a few weeks later she ran a high fever that wouldn't break. The doctor diagnosed it as Osteomyelitis, a deep bone infection. In 1931 there were literally no effective internal antibiotics. The only treatment was to scrape or saw out the affected bone, crippling the patient.

Table of Contents
8 Fowling the Nest By Denise Giardina and Eric Bates
The poultry industry is polluting fields and streams from Arkansas to Virginia.
47 Of Different Minds By Eric Bates
Fifty years after W. J. Cash probed The Mind of the South, journalists and scholars gather to discuss his
influential book.
52 Squatter's Right By KatrinaWillis
Congress ordered a federal agency to sell abandoned homes to low-income families. Myrtis Clark got tired
of waiting.
56 Blood for Oil By Laurie Udesky
Gasoline prices soared after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. Are the oil companies guilty of price
60 Patriots for Peace By Lane Windham
Many Southern soldiers and military families decided to "just say no" to the war in the Gulf.
13 Short Stories and Tall Tales By Susan Ketchin
15 Nonnie and the Melungeon By Lee Smith
22 Any Crazy Body By Nanci Kincaid
30 The Way Things Are By Ron Rash
32 The Well By Tom Bailey
36 The Golden Child By Reynolds Price
41 Oldest Living Confederate Widow Really Tells All By Allan Gur ganus
2 Dateline: The South Compiled by Robin Donovan
4 Southern News Roundup Compiled by Laurie Udesky
44 Southern Voices: No Joy in Mudville By Neill Herring
64 The Last Word

Volume and Number: 
VOL. 19, NO. 3

Since 1973 Southern Exposure has gained critical praise for its thorough investigations, unsentimental portraits of Southern life, and public interest reporting.