[percy-l] "The South passes by," written by Ronda Rich

honeyjbc1 honeyjbc at gmail.com
Sun May 26 22:54:23 EDT 2019

What a charming story.

I can't match it.
I am not a southerner.  I never met Percy. I didn't really read him with
pleasure until a half dozen years ago. Then I became a fanatic.
I wrote a book about letters I have written notable people. One section of
it is about my experience with reading Percy.
 I did write Jay Tolson.  And he did answer me.
I almost feel I have met Percy because of how generous Mr. Tolson has been
with me. And he was his biographer. So I guess you could say I met Percy by

Thank you, Ronda Rich for this charming post.

Janet Cantor
Philadelphia, Pa.

On Sat, May 25, 2019 at 6:00 PM Henry P. Mills <wppdirector at gmail.com>

> Dear Percy-L:
> Please find a short, pleasant reading diversion below offering a flash of
> a glimpse of a flicker of the Deep South as “place” and in certain of its
> “living characters" — perhaps as others on the list have experienced them,
> and certainly as present in Percy's life experiences and his fiction.  I
> myself am born and bred a Mississippian and find many impressions of what
> Ronda Rich describes quite familiar.  Of course, to be true, the South is
> much more complex in whole nature and across time.
> Does anyone wish to share impressions of any Percy fictional character (or
> of Percy himself) that reflect or contrast with Ronda Rich’s thoughts
> below?
> All best "Southern" wishes,
> Henry Mills
> Percy-L Administrator
> ---
> RONDA RICH: The South passes by
> By Ronda Rich
> https://www.henryherald.com/features/ronda-rich-the-south-passes-by/article_bf576a13-ca46-59b2-be02-07cf2ea137ba.htm
> If you sit long enough in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, the
> South passes by.
> Sometimes, it'll even walk right up to you, grab a seat and sit awhile. Or
> perhaps just stand for a bit of conversation like the stately, older
> gentleman who sauntered over to our table, his classic trench coat slung
> over his shoulder and a cup of coffee in his hand. His hair was thick and
> silver and his pleasant face lined with experience that we would be given
> the pleasure of glimpsing.
> "Where y'all from?" he asked, a friendly smile stretching across his face.
> This is not strange to me. I am Southern to the marrow of my bones. My
> husband "Tink," though, is from a world where there are perimeters. This
> means that a stranger does not look you in the eye when he passes you on
> the street, he does not offer a casual word while standing in the grocery
> line and he never, ever walks up to you in the lobby of a fine hotel and
> begins a conversation.
> It has taken him a few years of getting used to this way of life, but he
> is starting to appreciate it and sometimes enjoys it, even if he doesn't
> fully understand it. You have to be born to it in order to truly know it.
> I immediately jumped into conversation with this older gentleman and Tink,
> a bit reluctant, tagged along.
> "I grew up in Vicksburg, Miss.," he said. "You know, they say the
> Mississippi Delta starts here in the lobby of the Peabody and ends at
> Catfish Alley in Vicksburg."
> The conversation then crooked through the usual twists and turns that
> Southerners generally follow. He told how they settled in Memphis to be
> closer to home and how the Peabody was scheduled to be torn down when they
> arrived.
> "You wouldn't have believed it," he shook his head, then looked up at the
> intricate woodwork and beautiful glass. "Now, look at it. Truly amazing
> what they were able to do."
> For some reason, he next mentioned the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927,
> "Lanterns on the Levy" by William Alexander Percy of Greenville, Miss., and
> how he had been a man of strong moral conscience.
> "Have you ever read anything by Walker Percy, his cousin?" I asked.
> His eyes lighted up. "I have a story about him!"
> This is how Southerners work – one story leads to another.
> He went on to explain that in the 1960s, he was an attorney in New Orleans
> representing the U.S. in Civil Rights cases.
> "We had a case come up in that parish across the bridge from New Orleans."
> He pursed his lips, thinking. "Now, what's the name of it?"
> "St. Tammany," I replied.
> He snapped his fingers. "That's right. Covington. I went over for a
> meeting with concerned citizens. Afterwards, a gentleman came up and
> introduced himself. He said, 'I'm Walker Percy.'"
> I gasped. It was exciting to meet someone who knew the esteemed writer. He
> smiled. "I said, 'Well, Mr. Percy, what do you do for a living?"
> His laughter was one of embarrassment. "He replied, 'I'm a medical doctor
> but don't practice because I have TB. I now write novels.' I returned to
> New Orleans and told my boss who said, 'You met THE Walker Percy?' Now, of
> course, I've read all his books starting with 'The Moviegoer.'"
> I clasped my hands together, happily. "I love that book!"
> Suddenly, the man spotted his family across the lobby. "Oh! There's
> everyone. I have to go. It was indeed a pleasure to speak with you."
> Tink watched him as he hurried off, then thoughtfully remarked, "You
> Southerners are so invested in your culture. You have a strong sense of who
> you are and what matters."
> And so it shall be, as long as strangers keep talking and sharing their
> stories.
> --
> Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of the new book, *Let Me Tell You
> Something*. Visit www.rondarich.com to sign up for her free weekly
> newsletter.
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