slo-mo as these two cars approach each other, the malibu looks like it's an infant baby of the impala. i mean, it's dwarfed by this thing, and you just think, oh, my god, that malibu's going to be creamed. and then they hit, and they have cameras set up inside the cars, and it becomes instantly obvious that whoever was unfortunate enough to drive the '59 impala that got into an accident like this was going to be killed nine different ways. ..
although the car was completely wiped out, nothing recognizable left of it, it sold in predictable rather than unpredictable ways which it failed in a planned fashion and the passenger compartment stay intact and the air bags deploy it, the windshield and the war did not fly off, you walk away concluding whoever is driving a car in that situation had a crack the day no question about it but probably went away from the action. progress is a double-edged sword, the 57 chevy is a wonderful thing in the sense you can dive under the load. you can sleep on top of the engine and so close the road on top of view. on the other hand the car that
runs like a sewing machine that doesn't seem to have much romance to it has its advantages. yes, sir? >> hello. i have a couple of observations about postwar and the automobile and the american dream. my father coming out of the war like a lot of g is ended up wanting to settle down and aspire to the middle-class suburban dream. somehow raised enough money for a new car. he had been a musician and there was always the tinge of the bohemian, he bought an early 50s studebaker. he drove it and drove it and loved it and it got raggedy and swore out as these things did
and at one point he decided it needed a paint job, 1995 paint jobs and it came back the most horrendous turquoise and it is interesting, wasn't exactly, he was talked into jettisoning it, like they all work out but he always for the longest time spoke of it fondly and only semi jokingly said a head guess this, could have kept that,. he talked about how the car brought us three children from the hospital. was an actual cultural thing at that time. we had an uncle who was the
successful uncle of a family by our standards, a liquor wholesaler and he drove buicks and all the jokes about the hole in the head buicks, that symbolized something that was slightly of scale and one step up from the chevy. >> three steps. >> i had another uncle who was a g i. this guy was also the same middle-class aspiring settle down raise a family, but he was of little more of a sportsman and he ended up driving oldsmobiles and that sort of fit, a slightly sportier version maybe how that nice hood ornament on the globe or whenever it was. curiously i found out in the last few years he is long gone
but i was visiting his and, still my favorite and. the reason he drove those polls mobiles, this would have been the 50s. the first car he had he won with a hole in one at a golf tournament and the won and oldsmobile and drove oldsmobiles for ever so there are all these sort of automobiles and cultural -- >> i think part of that very nice observation that really resonates with me is the idea that when your dad got rid of the old studebaker he looked on it almost like an old hound dog you had for 20 years. it is that kind of relationship. real affection. one of the reasons was the car served his venue for memorable events in his life.
we discount how much time we spend in our cars and how important the times we spend in our cars are. some of my most vivid memories of my daughter as a toddler are hers sitting in the backstretch into her car seat singing while i am watching her in the rearview enjoying wuxi. couldn't tell you where i am on my way to but that scene replayed so many times that now it is hard for me to think of my daughter at that age without in imagining the scene as unfolding in a car. we spend so much time in traffic, national has its issues in virginia where i live. it can be just that thick at times, titanic especially if you're trying to get near d.c.. there are folks who commute to
washington without any compunction sign on for spending two hours a day, at least two hours. the outbound commute is worse. the ids and four hours in your car willingly when there is great public transportation up there, has always mystified me a bit and it seems to me the only conclusion that makes sense is people enjoy a bit of solitude that their time in their cars bring them in increasingly busy lives, we are crowded at work, crowded at home, so many demands on our time and attention. one of the few places you can count on and getting your thinking done. when your second traffic in your car. i think it is because the car serves that important role as a
venue that for instance your dad established the bond with that studebaker to begin with. it certainly explain the bonds i had with my cars. when i think i had 13 cars when i think back through them some of them bring painful memories back to me just because of the nature of the car itself but the few that i actually got running well enough to take me anywhere, important events in my life, some boxes in which memories get put. another question. >> i was an engineer with general motors for 35 years and spent 18 years in the plant working, manufacturing lines, but one point i would like to
bring up, you probably heard woodward was the strip outside of detroit that manufacturers take their cars out of and runs a month street to see how they perform. the city limits of detroit, it is basically a one week hot rod, half a million cars on that stretch a usually start driving monday or tuesday nights because you could drive by the time fighting goes around. i had a 67 chevy camaro at the time, i still have the jaguar. >> the original honor?
>> i am third and the second odor combed everything, easy to keep it clean. when i got it driving i had to get an appraisal so i got it back and got the appraisal at 25,000 and had fun with that and told this year. and watching a car show, the jackson auction in hagerty had this commercial to see the value of your classic car going online to check it out. i was underinsured times 3. had to go through the whole process again, but the 59 chevy and how lot, probably with $110,000. it is more than nostalgia. there is value to them. in the book spent a good piece
of one chapter talking value and authenticity and how odd it is in the automotive world, we place such value on originality and yet this is a machine with interchangeable parts that was designed to be swapped out but let me ask you something if i don't mind. were you in management? >> i was under management. >> where was the plan? >> i worked in the heavy-duty truck line, we supplied all the trucks for the alaska pipeline. >> was there a recognition by the guys in the line, the men and women who put these trucks together? that they were building more than just a machine?
i descartes' people? do you think it is indeed with this emotional attachment? >> there were many that were loyal but also for vehicles in our parking lot and stuff and when eccentric engineer bought a lincoln continental and superintendent took exception to it. out of the parking lot. the personnel told him to drive anything and contacted the general superintendent. we would build yellow freight, trucks and custom order. these guys would specify the airline and build them in a block and these guys would see work on the interstate and
stuff. very enjable time. >> thank you. we have a couple minutes left if anybody else has one. do you have anything to ask? my baby sister by the way. i will tell you a little about the story. i won't give away the way it ends. the book open from 2010 as you heard when the car's fate hangs in the balance at this point there is a complete beater, could wind up -- not sure it qualified as the parts car at that point. if you look to this car in 2010 you would have said there is nothing there, walk away from it.
and it falls into the hands of this gentleman, who has been arrested 70 times, he is a felon. he is also an incredibly charming guy. if you were to meet him, people who hang out with him are either having the time of their lives or getting their ass whipped. there is no middle ground. he is the very charming, engaging person and incredibly smart displayed his lack of schooling. he again, despite lack of schooling and because he is a car guy deeply inculcated in this idea of the car as a cultural touchstone, the idea that is a repository of memories, there is more than metal, there are dreams woven into the upholstery, the lives and loves of past donors etc..
and he finds this car with complete prominence and decides he is going to try to save it displayed the enormous amount of money this will entail and so launches the attempted restoration of the car and the book, the narrative is braided with the threads of the car's history from the moment it was built through its first 12 owners and tommy are any's history because tommy came off the line at the same time the car did. he is exactly the same age and want up in norfolk, va. tommy in a squalid apartment. those two stories travel in parallel two thirds of the way through the book when upgrades, the threads break to become one narrative as tommy attempts to rescue this car and along the
way the story of these 12 otherwise unconnected previous owners really to amount to kind of a portrait, more mosaic postwar america. so that is hopefully grounds you in the car enough and invests you in the cart enough in whether it is revived, whether tommy is successful in fixing it that the last chapters where he face a host of serious distraction and an fbi investigation and all sorts of other terrible things, economic collapse, you are invested enough that you don't care
whether he finishes and at the ending carries a great bit of tension for u.s. to whether he gets to the finish line. whether he gets there i can't say because the whole ball of wax. anybody else? thank you so much for coming. thank you for braving the weather. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> booktv coverage of the 2014 southern festival of books continues with a panel on southern history featuring blain roberts, author of pageants, parlors and pretty women and marcie cohen ferris, author of
the edible self. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> good afternoon. welcome to our session on creating southern identity, studies of food and beauty. i am kathy grant willis, and a member of the board of humanities in tennessee and i am thrilled to see you come out here in the rain. i think we are going to have an interesting discussion this
afternoon, both of them have a 20 minute power point presentation and when they conclude we will take questions and i ask when you go to ask questions please come to the mic so everyone is able to hear you. the first author i want to introduce to you is blain roberts. blain roberts is going to go first. this is her book. it is pageants, parlors and pretty women:race and beyond the 20th century south. blain roberts is an associate professor of history at california state fresno and her op-eds have appeared in the new york times and the huffington opposed. the other author we have with us today is marcie cohen ferris and this is her book. i think she is going to go second in our presentation. i failed to say she is a north carolinian, she went to un seat chapel hill. i did fail to say that.
oh wait. i messed up my pages here. marcie cohen ferris is associate professor of american studies at the university of north carolina at chapel hill and former president of the southern food waste alliance and her book is the edible self:the power of food and the making of an american region. thank you to both of you. >> thank you for coming. especially on this rainy day. can you hear me ok? i think the fact the we are on the same panel, it is faith as far as i am concerned. i had an interest in the history of southern food waste. and interest that was probably
sparked by the fact that my great grandmother, florence mcman roberts published a cookbook back in 1934 called dixie meals and i brought it. once you meet marcy's book and you will understand why this is so strange. she obviously had a sense of herself as a southern cook, her food is the daring coup and was a covert in the interwar years tried to claim this regional identity for their food. in a really weird coincidence, dixie meals was published write him in nashville by the parthenon press which i imagine she discovered during her trip to nashville because one of her sons was enrolled at vanderbilt and her daughter was at belmont. that is how she found the parthenon press.
the other reason i think our pairing is so fitting is i know that you have experience something i have experienced when i talk about my topic to people. i say i am talking about women and beauty, like it is so much fun and to be honest it is fun. it has been fun. in what other endeavor will one try to -- be cash of photographs. show young beauty queens, and tobacco leaves like this. bizarre. i ran across that in the archives but just as southern food is serious business which i imagine you will tell us, so is southern believe. both are deeply political.
in my book, i argue that the popularity of the south miss america queens dominated the pageant in the 50s and 60s, all about racial politics. i won't tell you how or why that is the case which is not so subtle way to get you to buy the book. as is showing you there is a somewhat bizarre photograph. what i do want to do today is to explore another way in which southern beauty was political. here is a picture of a black beauty shop. i want to tell you how beauty among african-american women was connected to efforts to destroy segregation. throughout the 50s and 60s black beauticians were amazingly effective grass-roots leaders in the civil rights movement. it was their activism along with
the activism of countless other everyday people that kept the movement going on a day to day week to week basis and help facilitate the movement's most important successes. to understand how women wielding brushes and hot irons and homes took on segregation i want to first look at this whine of work. and the advantages it offered. and everything i am about to say let me make it clear that doing hair in the segregated south was just like everything else and separated along racial lines so black beauticians would have served black women and white beauticians would have served white women. black beauticians who worked in the early to mid 20th centuries south were not unlike
hairdresser's today. they wanted their clients to look good but we also need to consider issues related to specific circumstances of being a black woman in the segregated south. negative stereotypes about black woman hood, black women, abounded. many white southerners were prone to seeing black women as dirty, disheveled, incapable of being reputable and respectable. black women were more vulnerable to hair loss because of a low protein diet and also the sun exposure that went along with fieldwork. black beauticians hoped to help their patrons overcome these challenges by presenting themselves as embodiments of femininity and respectability. it is important for us today to
appreciate it that this goal was really fundamentally political in nature. a beautician's job was to change unflattering perceptions of african-americans. black beauticians of course also wanted to make money but on this issue is it is worth thinking about why working as a beautician was so desirable for black women in the segregated south especially. most black women were confined to the lowest rungs of the southern labor market. working long days for low pay as sharecroppers, domestics or factory hands. here is what a woman named blanche scott said about the prospect of following the same
path of her parents and grandparents all of whom worked as factory hands in tobacco factories in north carolina. my grandmother got up and the 6:30 was growing and she was late, she got up in a hurry, she went running and i looked at my grandmother and wanted to do better than that as i grew up. i wanted to have something because my people didn't don't their homes but i wanted something before i died. blanch scott became a beautician charging women around $1.50, with low overhead if they work out of their homes. and she eventually made enough money to buy her own house.
blanch scott did not say this directly in that recollection about the 6:30 a.m. whistleblowing. underlying grandmother's's anxiety was the fact that she worked for someone else. and in the segregated south almost always meant a white box. beauticians were self employed. they were not economically dependent on whites. this would end up being crucial. the freedom to determine their own work hours. few other jobs afforded black women such flexibility. alice adams who worked as a domestic for a white family in atlanta from the 19 teams to the 1960s said this about her dais.
the hours were long. just long hours. i worked from 7:00 to 7:00. i couldn't go to church because i had to work. i wanted to go to church and wanted to visit friends and take care of my house and you didn't have time, you just had to work. by contrast beauticians could adjust their work hours according to their financial needs, their social and church outings, child care obligations and volunteer activities. take for examples this woman here, ruby parks blackburn. blackburn was also an at landon, a contemporary of alice adams and yet because she was the beautician her daily schedule was quite different. blackburn was a woman in control of her work load and her work
hours. some days, she took one or two customers, some days she was booked solid from the early morning until late late at night. she earned as much as $57 and as little as $11 a week depending on what else she needed to get done and we know that is because her wonderful appointment books in the auburn avenue research library in atlanta, in short being a beautician was quite appealing to black southern women. federal census data revealed how appealing. here is what you find if you look at the 1920 census. i pulled out three samples southern states. in georgia, alabama, mississippi
the number of black beauticians, 898 in georgia, 695 in alabama, 535 in mississippi. a lot of beauticians. by contrast look at this, a number of white beauticians leading georgia 167. in alabama 102. in mississippi the entire state of mississippi had 22 white beauticians. white women eventually caught up. eventually there would be many more. what these 1920 numbers indicate is how this line of work confered benefits to black women in ways to benefits of white women in the same era.
these are really revealing numbers. to route the parks, she offers a fantastic example of lack beauticians use their unique occupational physicians to do more than fix hair. this is a brief rundown of her remarkable civic work. in the 1930s she found it to be tee i see club, to improve conditions. under her leadership the club successfully lobbied for construction of two new schools for black children. changed department stores to hire black clerks at the height of the depression which is no small feat in atlanta. the atlanta cultural league provided better training for the city's black the master waitresses and janitors and
pushed white employers to pay a fair day's pay for a fair day's work. in the 1950s, the naacp, she worked on fund-raising campaigns for the naacp's defense fund which provided legal aid to african-americans. all of this work prompted a black newspaper man from atlanta to say this in a letter to black turns. i made a slight error, he confessed. i had my sexes makes. and any salvation of the race, i am quite open on the subject now. blackburn's's ability to engage in all the civic activities resulted from having a job that gave her the time and flexibility and knowledge that she was safe from economic
retribution. blackburn didn't just go back and forth between the black community and power structure in atlanta confronting the white power structure too. we have part of the explanation for why black beauticians are prominent in the civil rights movement, part of the explanation for why the pursuit of beauty is so political among black women but not all of it. keep in mind what goes on in beauty shops. talking. lots and lots of talking. to be sure, there was lots of good old fashioned gossip, gossiping going on in beauty shops but sometimes there was mortise this shoptalk. it was a result of the role
beauty shops played in their neighborhoods and communities. even more so than today beauty shops in the yearly to mid 20th century were imported gathering spots for women, black and white. they went to their local salons often, way more and we do today or weigh more than i do today. my grandmother going to the beauty shop once a week to get her purple hair touch up. this mattered for the function of beauty shops. one beautician from north carolina later recalled beauty shops, these are her words, were gathering places for information like the newspaper, like television is. with all these factors together you see how black beauticians became vital players in the civil rights movement.
first was the fact that their work was political in nature since the was about helping fight negative stereotypes. black beauticians economically independent from whites but not likely to lose their livelihood, any activities that upset the racial status quo. third, they had the time and flexibility to schedule their own work hours and participate in civil and political activities that had nothing to do with doing hair. finally they oversaw spaces where women gathered to learn about issues and talk. indy black beauticians and their customers engage in a time of talk that might have proven impossible if not dangerous in other settings. once the civil rights movement erupted in the 1950s, this is what was going on all over the south.
beauticians were in their communities doing important work for the movement and they were often using their shocks as bases of operation. a great illustration of the beautician who did this is bernice robinson of charleston, south carolina. bernese quote is the woman standing in the right of this photo. robinson was a leader in the charleston naacp and its voter registration drive. in the 1950s she began taking customers from her beauty shop to the charleston county register's office. she would leave white-haired woman behind under the dryer telling them as you walk out the door if you get too hot just cut her off and come out. i love that image. in 1957 robinson co-founded the citizenship full program right outside of charleston on john's island. this was the adult education or
program designed to teach illiterate black southerners how to read and write so they could pass literacy exams and registered to vote. at the end of the first session eight of the 14 students succeeded in registering which motivated robinson to expand the program. citizenship schools eventually spread throughout the entire south and many of them were held in beauty salons discreetly hidden from the prying eyes of white southerners. 1865, citizenship schools had helped about 50,000 black southerners register to vote. this photograph was taken from a citizen should school or taken at a citizenship school on john's island says she is overseeing the class. here is what robinson said about the connection between her job and civil rights activism. i didn't have to worry about losing my job because i wasn't a school teacher or a caseworker
with the department of social services or connected with anything i might be fired from. i had my own business supplied by black suppliers. i didn't have to worry. many people did. i used to encourage my customers to join the naacp and many of them were teachers and nurses and that sort of thing who would have their membership cards come to my house so that their mail man would not even see any of literature, and the naacp. they had to be very careful. robinson was right. battling jim crow entailed great respect. when a barge numbers of black sharecroppers in jackson, tenn. registered to vote in spring of 1960, white orlando is retaliated by evicting them from their homes. the homeless sharecropper's move into surplus military sense. the picture was known as tent
city. black beauticians in jackson rallied to their cause. and to build a health center to alleviate their suffering but put donation boxes in their shops and ask beauticians statewide to donate the proceeds from one hair do to their fund-raising campaign. clearly those black beauticians who chose to take advantage of their unique potential status, negotiated unusual terrain in the course of their work. so today, it may even seem jarring to. one minute they were smiling hair, the next minute they were plotting ways to topple segregation. as i tried to suggest this blend of beautifying and politics would not really have been all that jarring to beauticians or
their clients. this photograph right here from 1963 illustrates this fact very well. here is vera piggy, of clarksdale, mississippi. and organizer of twin peace citizenship school. and left with a head of air, ready to present herself to the world's. she also left with a stock of voter registration forms. that is what she is looking at as she attends to her hair. it is no surprise the's ilan became known locally as the birthing room for civil rights in clarksdale. an apt name for a space that throughout the house and nurtured and exceptional cohort of civil rights activists.
>> 22 minutes. >> you did what? >> let me talk about that. >> early on, early on, before world war i, when we were doing each other's hair at home. after world war i, even in the early 1930s there were a lot of economic and structural readings, there were not a lot of white women doing here but women who wanted to bob their hair would go to barbara and asked to do it. which was not uncommon all over the country but it certainly
happened. okay. >> okay, all right. okay. >> apologize for the delay. >> we have a lot in common in our work and you will appreciate my first story. two experiences helped by interest in the intersection of southern sudan southern history. the first is the conversation i had more frequently than i can recall as i worked on the edibles house and it goes like this. them. you are writing a book on southern food, yum. how come they fry everything to give me, excuse me, them? if southern food is so bad for you. a fry everything. why do they do that? me, in the second experience. a request to speak to a vibrant group of undergraduates to study local food systems in north carolina and asked if i could
briefly speak about the role of southern culture and local food. is there a connection? my response was right. why all that? because the southern history embedded in southern food has somehow disappeared. southern food is history. southern food is place. southern food is power. or the absence of it. when we examine the history of food in the american south, we encounter the tangled interactions of its people over time, a world of relationships fraught with conflict yet bound by blood and attachments to place. the contradiction between the reality of plenty and deprivation, of privilege and poverty in southern history resonate in the region's food traditions and we eat this history everyday yet over time southern food has become untethered from the complex
historical narrative responsible for this cuisine. so think about maybe an image, buckets of southern fried chicken and cap head biscuits like culinary spacecraft set adrift from the mother ship of southern history, culture and experience. a multi-cultural -- of multilayered past and present underlies these foods and explains why southerners eat the way we do and why we think of these foods as deeply southern. today as you know popular versions of southern food are so super sized, so enriched, so sweet and that once iconic foods are almost unrecognizable to native southerners and southern food is also even a star in its own reality show today, actually several such as banana pudding here, prepare for her louisiana sons and husband and chef "duck dynasty" on a andy and the
microwave bowls of ketchup in margarine sauce joined by the thompson family and georgia and the tlc runaway hit here comes honey do. . culinary grammar in a 7 history remains even at the heart of those foods whether it is the rich desserts on the plantation south that are tendered to banana pudding or the plane meals of working-class and impoverished southerners naturally tethered to the thomsons at several -- real southern food is a distinctive innovative cuisine grounded in the world of local agrarian tradition. it is loyal and water and region and season and flora and fauna and the influence of local cultures. consider the historic southern water that we still treasure today. southern food is the product of a single southern culture that derives its strength from many
cultures. this process was negotiated in the crucible of race in the early south which was global as soon as contact occurred between europeans and southeastern indians in the 1500s and the globalization of southern food continues today in the diverse racial and ethnic south as we experience the influence of asian and indian and latinos southerners on our evolve in regional cuisine. contrast and contradiction is at the heart of southern history and food reflects the same abundance, the beauty, the richness of southern culture but there's also the dark underside of rachel and class car matt expressed in land loss, poverty and disease and maybe that is why people don't think my work on southern food is as fun as they want it to be but one of our carolina southern city students, madison scott, wrote in a class the truth of the south is found in moments of
collision. this works for your work too. moments of collision in southern history and food, i explore those in the edible south. i will give you a quick taste of several of these moments over the arch of southern history so you can understand this connection between southern history at southern food. by the time europeans arrived in the 1500s southeastern indians of the mississippi period, 1,000 to 1500 c e had been the south's first intensive farmers, the first come -- for cultural negotiation and exchange between 8 americans, enslaved africans and europeans both peaceful and embattled created the south's core cuisine, the grammar of southern food the we know today. in the antebellum south we see the region's racial pat apologies and culinary pleasures in letters and diaries written
by outsiders particularly women who were young northern born white governesses and teachers brought south by white slave holding families. to give you an example of one, in july at 1852 route hastings from massachusetts wrote her new england family from the south carolina plantation where she was employed and you can't imagine how strange it looks to me to see the children give the negro's half a biscuit or a wafer or a piece of gingerbread have feet or a piece of mellon from which all the law called good had been eaten. i haven't learned yet how to give my meetings with good grace. but she was kind -- trying to learn. european visitors commented on these worlds. swedish travel writer traveled around the south finding the institution of southern hospitality which she called it, exactly that, overbearing and tediously she felt captive at the table of her georgian post,
described the typical dinner scene in may of 1850 as one incessant muscle servings which takes away all the enjoyment of the food. she was also shocked by the inverse of southern hospitality, the deeds of cruelty that were suffered by house and slave women in south carolina. coping with food shortages and starvation during the civil war lead to rebellion, even riots among working-class confederate women who could not provide for their families as husband, son, slate haber, white hired help were not there. by may marcie cohen ferris 65 all but two of gertrude thomas's former household slaves had said heard -- fled her georgia plantation and when a new coke state less than 48 hours, i don't know the we are fighting
shadows. a much admired black cook disappeared from the kitchen of a pine ville plantation in leon county, fla. in may of 1865. as guests arrived for dinner the white mistress and her daughter to find her. she had the key to the kitchen store in her hand, she found her in her home dressed in her sunday best about to go to emancipation picnic hosted by black soldiers stationed near the plantation and she said take the keys back to your mother, tell her don't expect a cook anymore. i am free, bless the lord. she wants any dinner she can cook it herself. as the turn of the 20th century heralded the new south seismic shifts in southern farming entered food availability, land access for thousands of black and white tenant farmers and sharecroppers, a vast network of reforms for across the south and the progressive era. this is an era blain roberts is
talking about where black women found other opportunities in small business particularly in view the work which is amazing. food was at the heart of new domestic science department, agricultural experiment stations, home and farm industrial colleges, here is tuskegee, settlement schools, largely in appalachicola black and white men and women became teachers and also county extension agents. these were segregated programs, black industrial schools, white settlement programs in the south. physicians and scholars led important food related studies throughout the south including dr. joseph girlberger and his wife, they studied pellagra which is a nutritional deficiency disease caused by the lack of niacin or be 3 in their region. the abundant south was wlds
away from the north carolina sharecropping families that photographers in university of north carolina sociologist documented in the summer and fall of 1939. unc sociologist margaret heygood wrote in her notes the traditional southern pattern of overflowing tables with many sorts of meats simply does not exist in this group. in the 1940s social scientists analyze the rigid racial codes that daily shaped like in the segregated south including its food habits. and rosa amazing books that document this process. also in this year and new deal documentary literary projects offered eve talkative descriptions of regional food waste. i will give you one example. great folklore trained at columbia record the story of
florida's ditty what city and a paradise where the food is already cook to. she collected recipes, quote, gleaned from antebellum homes in this city america east project as blames grandmother's cook book of this year too, these lost south cook books that become popular content trying to hold onto this mythic south. the recipes being collected, suppose it plantation recipes reflect the branding of this mythic south as dixie meals often does as it was packaged and sold, the tourists in a growing consumer class in the 20th century south. this news has been into the exact year a blain roberts describes, the civil rights era.
in the 1940s and continuing through the 50s and 60s lunch counters, cafes in the south became the battleground of the civil rights movement. a sit in protesters became the steadfast soldiers in the fight for the most basic of american civil rights and of course we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the historic civil rights act which was passed in july of 1964, shepherded by president lyndon johnson after the assassination of president kennedy in the fall of 1963 and that act granted all-american regardless of race the right to use and be served in public accommodations. you were talking, i was thinking of mildred council in chapel hill, i read her interviews, she did not want to do hair. that is how she -- she had learned to cook from being a little girl and that is what she found creative but it gave her
what you described with your women working in beauty, independence, her own place, her own suppliers but she was first pushed into that and did it work so well for her. not until president lyndon johnson's introduction of the great society campaign and his war on poverty in the 1960s that americans recognize the problem of hunger that existed in their own borders. congressional hearings were held on hunger after senators robert kennedy and joseph clark toward impoverished homes in the mississippi delta. uneducated senators in washington found photographs of southern children with bloated stomachs. they assumed they were overat beating the. you hear this in their discussions. they must be fast. they assumed they were overeating instead of starving, they couldn't recognize it. and today, brings us to the
present. today north carolina my state has the tenth highest food and security rate in the united states for children under 5 years old, number 2 in food insecurity. that means one in four children get hungry every morning. winston-salem has been described as the worst city in america for childhood food hide ships. this very contradictory world we live in in the south, a place of deprivation and abundance, at the same time we are witnessing growing southern food scene of small scale sustainable bonds and food on drawers as i am sure everyone is seeing in nashville. the current southern food movement is rooted in the politics of the 1960s and the 1970s, also in the new regionalism of the 1980s and it brings us to today, the globalism of the year at that we live in. this movement is also empowered
by a contemporary revolution in opposition to a very broken food this demand america's industrialized food system. .. >> for southern food, we've got too back, we've got to learn from the region's history. because it's there where we see progress and resistance to change have done constant battle. and i think that's really clear in blain's work as well.
but given improbable odds, unimaginable change has already come to the region, and i hope that this will continue. so i thank y'all for listening to that. [applause] and i think we've got time for -- >> yeah, we do. thank you. if you have a question, could you please go to the microphone? and while she's going, i just want to say i really enjoyed this, and i think what i enjoyed most was about how women have continued to shape our community and our environment based on things that are traditionally women's roles like doing hair and cooking and how this really has shaped our community. >> yes, thank you. >> absolutely. >> i agree, and that's a good segway. my name is adrienne, i'm actually a doctoral student, so you never let us get by a microphone. [laughter] i also have to say that i've been down in gnash absolutely for eight months, but i am a connecticut yankee. i was schooled in boston, okay?
what i find so fascinating is this whole sense, southerners are obsessed with their southern heritage, do you know what i'm saying? like you come down, and it's such a piece. and when you look at why -- white privilege, being from the northeast or from the east coast, we don't even think about it, you come down here, and they're like why are they still talking about the south? like, let it go. that kind of thing. [laughter] so one of the interesting things you brought up about hair, and i'm having a hair issue today. as an african-american woman, is your discussion a little oversourced or overprescribed for the south? because i think the issues in terms of beauty, in terms of african-american women being considered disheveled and trying the strive and do all those other things, wanting to have their own money and all those other pieces, i don't think it's that different of what was going on in the northeast, and i don't know. i don't know to say, but that's just is my question. >> no, i don't think that's unfair. i mean, i guess one thing i would say is that for much of
the period during which i studied the majority of black americans are living in the south, and so that's one way in which the regional focus makes sense. the other thing that i try to do in the book, which i didn't really do much of today, is to keep kind of a conversation going between the black and white ideals and practices. because i do think that that is something that makes the south somewhat unique during this period. you're right, beauty's racialized all over the country, you know? for a lot of the 20th century. but i do think that there's something kind of you week about what -- unique about what went on at least before, like, the 1960s. >> and then one last question. >> yeah. >> what do you think in terms of beauty and beauty shops, the role class played in that as well? >> well, that is important. you do see in the historical record that there was, could be a class divide in terms of shops that were frequented by, say, domestics versus middle class
black women. in a place like washington, d.c. can, for example, where you have a pretty large african-american community, there was a shop run by cardoza sisters. and they envisioned their shop as being a kind of cut above a lot of working class neighborhood salons. and they, interestingly, actually instituted rules about gossip and talk in their shop lt lt -- shop, because they wanted to distance themselves from this world that they thought wasn't quite as professional as they wanted to be. and so i do think that's important, you know? i don't think every shop you would have walked into would have been alive with all of this talk, and i do think there would have been some shops where some black women would not have felt comfortable. >> thank you. >> uh-huh. >> i was thinking, too, just one comment on what blain was saying, you know, in the world these women are creating, squeeze independent entrepreneurs, it is so
different in the south where they're living in a place that's so oversexualized african-american women in their image and then took away their womanhood. >> yeah. so, i mean, my students -- so, i mean, my students i teach nonjewish southerners always say i can't imagine it was that much worse in the south for jews, and i say, yes, it was. because we're in a very distinctive world where there is a long, long history of the racial politics are very different because of every factor we know. >> yeah. and, you know, during segregation black women would have had so many limits on their mobility and whether where they could gather. and so these salons do become very important gathering spaces in a society where a lot of spaces are off limits. >> and, you know, women did the same thing with the civil rights movement in restaurant worlds like georgia gilmore and montgomery, alabama, and a group
of women baked for the movement in their catering businesses and raised money to buy ca to transport people during the bus boycott, you know? so it's same kind of economic empowerment, whether it was food or doing hair. >> yeah. >> it was having a business and using that as place. >> hello. [inaudible] both of you. i am a black old southerner. i'm not as old as some of the people in this picture -- [laughter] but i am old. and to the young lady, i am from the south, born and reared in the south and went to school in the north. i have a degree from the university of illinois, a degree from boston university, and let me say what's going on now. where i live in knoxville, tennessee, the beauty shop is still where we meet to talk about the candidates. and just not too long ago when we had race in knoxville, i
mean, a political race in knoxville, there was a little brochure -- and i'm sorry i don't have that with me -- that said we're going to talk about x, y and z on this day, and you need to come and hear it. so it's still going on. and i appreciate the research that both of you did for good books. thank you so much. but it's not stopped. it's still going on. [laughter] >> there's a historian, tiffany gill, who has written an entire book about black beauty shops, and she does some more contemporary research. and she talks about how black beauty shops have served as really important centers for the dissemination of public health information like breast cancer awareness and these kinds of things. so, yeah, i think it's still very important. >> uh-huh. and diabetes. i know there's a program in public health at chapel hill where they were doing that. >> uh-huh. >> and really helping hair salon owners to be trained in, to mix that into their conversation.
>> yeah. >> other questions? >> if there aren't, the photograph -- do you all remember the photograph that she showed of the sit-in in jackson? that's probably buried deep in your -- okay. that was 1963 in jackson, mississippi, and the photograph shows ann moody who wrote "coming of age in mississippi." if you haven't read that book, i highly recommend it. it's a great memoir about growing up in the segregated south. right there. >> [inaudible] >> right. and so this is wonderful, it brings our books together perfectly. >> right. >> so here we are at a segregated lunch counter at wool worth's in jackson, mississippi. it's this moment where they're trying to integrate this food space, public food space that has been so off limits for so long. of course, the food would have been cooked by black cooks, i'm sure. >> right, absolutely. >> and what those white
protesters are doing in the background is dumping condiments all over their hair, you know? mustard, ketchup, sugar, what have you. and so there's a real assault on the body that is in that picture with food -- >> absolutely. yeah, i mean, it was the greatest humiliation. >> yeah. >> to turn the food back onto them as a weapon and on to ann moody can, they used this white sugar on her hair. and it was just the most demeaning and violent moment. it's a really powerful moment. and what did they do? they sat there, you know, in this great act of, you know, of justice as they were trained to do so. >> okay. and then what ann moody did right after this is she went to a beauty shop. >> right. >> and had the beautician -- she was moved in front of all the customers who were waiting, and they washed her hair, and this beautician took off her
stockings and washed them, and they made her look presentable again. >> yeah. beautiful. >> thank you all for coming. we're about out of time. i will say that the authors will be signing books in the colonnade upstairs from 2 until 2:30, so i hope you've had the opportunity to purchase some books. if not, i know you can go to the north carolina press tent, and you can find both of the books there. thank you very much. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
joining us more this panel, the long shadow of war, veterans' experiences on the home front. our host and moderator is zachary bell, he's going to be joining us momentarily, and we thought we would go ahead and get started in the meantime. and i think we'll just, we'll go ahead and introduce ourselves one by one as we go along. my name is ken macleish, i'm an anthropologist, and i teach in the program medicine, health and society at vanderbilt university, and my research and the subject of my book, making war at fort hood, is the question of how people experience war and military institutions in their daily lives. i'm interested in the ways that people experience war as something that is normal and routine and highly organized even as it's also incredibly intense, overwhelming and traumatic.
and my research and writing are mostly based on time that i spent at fort hood, an army base in central texas that i imagine a lot of folks have heard of. it's one of the largest and busiest military installations in the world and one of the most centrally-important u.s. military installations to the wars in iraq and afghanistan. and it's a place where for that reason war is really close to everyday life. the, through a combination of things like lengthy and repeated deployments that can last for 12 months, for 15 months, sometimes even longer than that, often with a year or far less time in between, all sorts of conditions that people return home from war with that affect their lives, affect their relationships, where these basic sort of
structural features of how war is waged and organized turn out to have very intimate and personal presences in people's everyday lives. and that was the subject of my work and my investigation in what the book endeavors to illustrate. i'm really excited to be sharing this panel with such insightful and important fellow chroniclers of the american military experience, and it's a thrill to be here with you both. and it's a -- this is, it's a realm of experience, experience for people in the armed services, the people who share, who share their lives and their communities and their experiences, but also for all of us for whom war and the military, all of us as civilians for whom war in the military is a major and significant and abiding preoccupation.
this realm of experience of military life and of war more generally is something that is, on the one hand, kind of overburdened with cliches and assumptions and narratives that sort of tell us what we think we already know about war. and on the other hand, somewhat paradoxically it's also manager that people tend to -- manager that people tend to insist can never be understood except by people who are there to experience it. and it's this weird kind of tension between, between on the one hand sort of assuming that there's so much we can take for granted about what war is and what it consists of, and on the other hand this insistence of not being able to understand which sometimes can sort of turn into a refusal to try the understand. these two, these two things are major reasons why i feel like it's important to try to tell stories about war and about military life that both unsettle our assumptions and also try to
speak across this perceived divide and experience and understanding. and so to that a end, i mean, one of the things that really struck me in my work and that i tried to talk about in my book were the ways that war is not necessarily always limited to the people and places and times and kinds of actions that we often associate most directly with it. it's not always terribly eventful, it's not always necessarily that conclusive. again, in ways that we expect it to be, especially these wars in iraq and afghanistan which are notable both for their extremely prolonged character and their unconventional and asymmetric nature. and so like i said, this is something that emerged from my concern and interest in the ways
that war sort of finds its way into really intimate and personal aspects of people's lives as well. and that's the subject of the short excerpt that i'd now like to share with you all, and i'll just add one additional thing which is just an expression of thanks and gratitude for the folks who i spent time with and who sort of made their, made their lives and stories available to me and made it possible to do this work and write this book. so the title of this section is "tears at the manifest." the departure and return events that bookend soldiers' deployments are called manifests. they're combined with a long and devastating farewell or a quick and joyful reunion. they have a sort of mythic significance in military communities as scenes of eventfulness and intensity that define the collective experience
of absence, anxiety, separation and strained detachment. the stone-faced inhumanity of the war apparatus and the extravagantly painful human frailty of the people caught up in it. people wanted to know if i had gone to a manifest, and they wanted to make sure that i did go. a lot of the time man -- manifests are held in gyms at which there are several on post of fort hood. indeed, it's such a familiar scene that its bleachers and brick walls often provide the settings for ads for military life insurance that appear in army times. it seems both odd and appropriate that this wrenching ritual of departure should be set in a place laden with youthful associations of sex, competition, discipline, play, humiliation and burr goning bodily -- burgeoning bodily prowess. the gyms look like normal good-sized high school or ymca gyms with soaring eagles,
geometric designs of stars and stripes on their crinder block walls above the stacked bleachers. but they do so much duty for manifests that there are signs hanging up permanently, banners with block-letter messages specific to the occasion but serving as constant reminders, it would seem, to soldiers playing basketball or lifting weightings. above the doors out to the parking lot, come home safe. on the opposite wall, the first thing you see when you enter, "welcome home." these rooms are configured for coming from and going to war. for whatever reason, this manifest is outdoors on the lawn and the parking lot next to the unit hq building on battalion avenue. there is a long line of battalion headquarters buildings stretching for a mile or maybe more through this part of the post, and like all the others, this one is square, bland and tan inside and out, not much of it -- excuse me, not much to it, but a long linoleum corridor, a handful of offices, a conference
room. the walls are mostly bare. in front a parched but well kept lawn slopes to the street, and behind a long stretch of parking lot filling now with cars and then a barracks and next door a narrow, equally nondescript ware where in a couple of hours soldiers will line up to receive their weapons. the manifest is for several hundred soldiers. some others are deploying the next day, and a smaller number have already gone ahead. field artillery is or was at the time of this writing the only combat arms branch with positions open to women, but still the soldiers are mostly men. an acquaintance, danielle, invited me. her husband, gene, is a senior nco who has already served two tours, so he got assigned to the unit's rear detachment, the part that stayed in garrison while the rest is deployed. danielle has spotted me in the
parking lot of the volunteer organization where we both spent time a few weeks previous, told me the unit was deploying and then shepherded me along to a series of events leading up to their departure. first, there was a massive briefing in an auditorium with powerpoint slides and handouts outlining for soldiers' family members the tedious but vital details of deployment; where the soldiers would be, when they could and couldn't be reached, who to contact with questions and problems and the very, very limited circumstances that would merit emergency leave. the army was taking these soldiers to iraq, and it would not bring them back until it was done with them. the next event was a family day a couple of days later, a sort of company picnic for the or entire brigade that gene described as mandatory fun. there was barbecue donated by a host of chefs from all over texas, served under tents on a wide, bare field and watched over by the facade of the post stadium and a giant water tower. there was a flag football
tournament with teams drawn from the deploying and some impromptu line dancing. the manifest, in contrast, isn't about getting ready or getting together, it's about saying good-bye. the soldiers will gather, wait, attend to a few last duties and then, with little fanfare, assemble in formation and board the plain white school buses that will carry them across the post to the army airfield where they will board a plane to kuwait and convoy to baghdad. and wives and children and friends and parents of many of these soldiers will gather and wait with them and pass an uneasy last couple of hours together before a sudden and painful good-bye. they will watch the buses depart, and they themselves will disburst. around ten a.m., soldiers turn up with big rucksacks that they will carry with them, even bigger duffels that get dumped
into a pile and loaded into a plain white van. the soldiers cluster in groups and sand in lines a-- stand in lines across the parking lot waiting on squads or platoon leaders or come raids with clip -- comrades with clipboards. they pass in and out the back door of the hq building that opens onto a strip of sidewalk and a parking lot where the buses will pull up before long. the soldiers settle all over the lawn joined now by wives and kids and parents and siblings and friends, a field of drab olive and print camo interspersed with the bright tones of blue jeans, bare limbs, long hair. two little girls in matching supergirl shirts alternate between munching cupcakes and clinging to their dad's camo fatigues. the crowd grows and spills across the lawn around to the front of the building. it is a summer day in texas, mostly overcast but still hot, and people crowd into the scant
patches of shade. soldiers without family members to see them off sit in groups by themselves. families sprawl in big multigenerational clusters. little kids run around playing tag. couples hold each other as closely as they can in public. it is an exercise in waiting. everyone sitting through these precious and painful last couple of hours. as i skirt the edge of the crowd, it seems from the outside surprisingly upbeat, not much different from the family day the week before; soldiers together with soldiers, soldiers together with families, families together with families. the odd mix of tedious official obligation and the pleasure of socializing, the tension of the looming deployment surprisingly not palpable or at least not to me. dan jerusalem introduces me to the -- danielle introduces me to the wives of the other ncos. for many of them, this is their third deployment. one of these ladies, married to an e5 and now in her early 30s, tells me a lot of young
couples won't make it. another of the women gestures out to the crowd of soldiers and points out almost half wear in patch on their right shoulder indicating they have not deployed before. everyone has been told to expect this deemployment to last 15 months, and though they will end up coming home in 12 instead, a whole year plus another season weighs on everyone's mind. just stay busy, is the sergeant's wife says to me, that's how you get through. an acquaintance tells me i've already cried once, at home she means in private. when we talked a few months earlier, she told me she preferred to stay away from the manifest, that she and her husband and kids didn't want to be around other people's negativity, crying, fighting or recriminations, when they were trying to say their own good-byes. those who have been through it before have already done their talk at home. maybe that accounts for the sense of relative calm. earlier this morning she read the notes from middle and high school-aged kids had written to
their dad. she was proud of them. they're old enough to express themselves really well now. her daughter quoted psalms 31 in her note: angels will watch over you. time passes relatively uneventfully. after a while, a couple of dozen soldiers are called into formation, then a couple dozen more, and then they disperse again. two buses arrive. they look innocuous, but they're icons of despair. dan jell notes -- danielle notes that wives should pay money for a chance to smash the hell out of one of those buses. they sit a few feet from the curb with their engines off. there's another formation and then another. everyone keeps telling me to just wait, i'm going to see a lot of crying any minute. they have said this a lot. jutte wait a few minutes, that's when all the boohooing starts, jen says to -- gene says to me. they, the women, have brought me here to see the crying, i suppose. the families and little kids
continue to mill around, and then at some signal that i miss, the soldiers begin to shoulder their packs and weapons and move toward the buses. little kids, half comprehending, are hoisted up again by their dads. here and there couples twist into agonizing clenches and hold on for dear life. one by one, the soldiers pull themselves away from wives and kids. arms stretch out, hands grip, slacken and release. the soldiers walk across a few feet of asphalt and form a long, orderly line along the side of the bus and file on. i look for the crying. there is a little here and there. it won't really start until the buses pull away, daniel murmurs to me. minutes drag on as the soldierings board. nothing about this melodrama happens cleanly, quickly or even dramatically. some women dash up to the line to steal one last embrace. one couple lingers holding hands
awkwardly through the window of the bus. there's a constant racket of activity, shouted questions, names called off, jokes. the soldiers are not crying, not that i can see. most look at least a little dazed and tense, but they are with each other now on the other side of the strip of pavement, and on the sidewalk and the lawn, the families and wives and girlfriends are with each other. the obligations and boundaries that for the previous couple of hours could be foregone and forgotten have snapped cleanly back into place, producing a kind of intimate social alchemy. one moment the man in the acus belongs only to the people who have come to see him, to their embraces and smiles and last words, and the next moment he belongs only to the army. again without preamble, the buses drive off down the parking lot. the soldiers are now deployed. i look around for the deluge of tears, afraid to look and then doing it anyway. i see wet cheeks and eyes, women hugging, hugging each other, hugging kids and dads and brothers and in-laws, but there
is no spectacle and, indeed, the crowd has thinned. many of them are already gone. on the one hand, it seems like a classically -- [inaudible] moment, but for one who didn't get on the buses, there is no passage to the other side, no clear ending. there are signs, protocols, all that for sure, but no flood of tears, no closure. does the closure come in the months or 15 -- in 12 months or 15 when the soldiers return? can it come then when they know that they will be headed out again after a scant 12 months at home? even that precious and far-off time filled in with long days of work and weekends in the field. there is no closure, only whatever quantity adheres in persisting with daily life, with normalcy in the face of the burden of fear, anxiety and absence that now lies before the wives, the girlfriends, the parents, the children and even, in different form, the soldiers themselves. instead of closure, there is the daily work of not coming undone. thanks.
[applause] >> thank you all for coming. i am jen percy, and i am a journalist and author of the book "demon camp," and i teach writing at nyu. and my book follows the story of one veteran's homecoming from afghanistan. and i spent about six years with him, following him around, trying to make sense of his life. he got back home divorced, broke, he didn't really have anywhere to go, no family that was supportive of him or sort of willing to understand the circumstances he'd been through. and he started having terrible nightmares about his dead can friends coming back. -- dead friends coming back. they were in his bedroom at night, and he said he was followed around by a figure
called the black thing. and what brought me to this soldier, his name is caleb daniels, started with an article i read about a man named sergeant brian rand who, basically, killed an iraqi, and the iraqi was in his room at night, and they were talking. at least that's what he was telling his sister, these stories about this ghost. and so i was really interested in this dialogue that was happening and trying to understand traumatic memory and, you know, if we think of a traumatic memory as sort of one that can't be fully assimilated by the mind and that happens over and over again and that follows you and haunts you, and that's coming from a past that's difficult and painful, then what does that mean to still inhabit the present when it's sort of fully taken over by the past? and going off what ken said just about a refusal to understand, i think that's a really important word and a word i kept running into over and over again when i
was reading about ptsd and learning more about its history. and it's pretty much a history of our refusal to accept many things; capacity for violence, capacity for evil, our willingness to understand difficult circumstances, the fact that war can be, you know, purposeless at times. the symbolic value and the glory we give to it might not be, you know, may not fully follow through for homecoming always. and how to make sense of that discrepancy. and caleb was interesting because he sort of refused to accept traditional definitions of post-traumatic stress which, you know, is sort of a difficult history to follow anyway because the terms are changing year after year in the dsm. so we're constantly revising our understanding of what it is
anyway. but i think i what's -- i think what's most important is to understand it is a very normal reaction, a very normal, you know, part of the human condition and that as civilians or as a society we don't tend to give, you know,ptsd that kind of space. and so part of my sort of attempt in this book is to sort of close that civilian divide and try to inhabit someone who is still living in a might mare. and caleb, you know, is certainly not, you know, a representative example necessarily at all, but he's, you know, someone that was in afghanistan and came back and wasn't able to fully, you know, be part of the world again. and i think one of my main interests became really like the language we used to make sense of trauma, too, and sort of the words we can use to conceal or
sort of cloak meaning with language and then what happens when that is undone. and so the it's a narrative that we were -- if the narrative we were giving to ptsd weren't working for this guy, so it was his attempt to redefine what was happening to him. and i was going to read a quick section to start. i might read another one if there's time. so this is the first time i met caleb. caleb told me a story about his ex-wife, allison. while he was deployed, their dog got pregnant and miscarried. the miscarried puppies were in a pile on the floor, and allison had to call him in iraq to ask what to do. finish he told her to put the dead dogs in the trash, but she wouldn't do it. when he got home, he found them
everywhere, rotten solid. that's the kind of shit i had to come home to, he said. we were at mi casa, a mexican strip mall eating cheese that here thats and drinking cokes out of plastic cups. his hands folded into its curves, the white clean existence his skin. against his skin. in the army, his nickname was dapper dan because no matter what the conditions after combat, after his helmet had been in his head for days in the middle eastern heat, his hair was always immaculate, brushed and molded finely with his favorite gel. he served in iraq two months, afghanistan four years. he was a machine gunner for the 160th special operations aviation regiment, one of the army's most elite and well trained units. on june 28, 2005, his entire aviation crew, eight men, died in a chinook helicopter crash on a rescue mission in the kunar
province of eastern afghanistan. caleb wasn't on the flight because his superior, trey ponder, kicked him off for no other reason than he wanted to fly that day. caleb was back at the base listening to the radio when the chopper was gunned down and everyone burned alive. when i asked caleb about his missions, he formed his copenhagen snuff into a fine ball and told me he didn't want to talk about special forces or ragheads or saddam, he didn't want to talk about his buddy who got his skull blown off or about fluffy, the cat he peeled and ate dead off the side of the road. he wanted to talk about the day his entire unit died. have you heard their falling, burning voices from an empty room, how his ex-wife called him a murderer and made him take out the trash. he wanted to talk about how all of it was still there every day, the blood in his mouth, the
screaming of his dead buddies. he wanted to talk about after the war. when i got home three years ago, he said, i had this thing come visit me in the middle of the night, and you could hear it coming down the hallway. caleb stood up in the booth, hunched his shoulders and started walking apishly in place. a few customers turn their heads. this thing, he told me, a big, dark figure, opened my door. it was so tall, it had to lean down to get its head through, and in this really deep voice it said i will kill you if you proceed. it almost sounded like it wanted an answer back from me, and i started laughing at this thing and said you've got to be face fucking me. caleb finished his coke and spit his chew into the empty cup. but it came back every night. one time i'm sitting in my room, it walks in and shuts the door,
comes after me. i'm physically choking. my dead buddy comes in and wrestles it off me. it chokes him too. kip was taking punishment for me, so i'm watching this, and full time freaking out. freaking out. punishment for what, i asked. for killing, he said, and for living. the air conditioner groaned and strings of dust swirled in the grated air. caleb turned sideways and rested his legs on the booth. i asked if he'd ever gone to the v.a. for help, and he said he waited in line for two days and came home chewing painkillers. 140 vets are dead every week because of shit like this, he said, and the v.a. doesn't do anything. i dug an article out of my purse about 26-year-old sergeant brian rand who shot himself after being followed night after night by the ghost of the iraqi man he'd killed. brian had been stationed at a checkpoint in fallujah with his buddy, chris. the guys were board, not much
happening that day until a white van started coming up the road towards them, picking up speed. brian turned to chris and asked him what he thought they should do. chris replied, shoot him, i guess, and so brian shot him. the dead iraqi man visited brian in north carolina. he came mostly at night. he choked brian while he slept. he demanded that brian apologize for the killing. and when brian said i'm sorry, the dead man wouldn't listen. he said, no, brian, you need to join me. caleb read the article slowly, scrunched it into a ball and threw it at me. this is the same thing that visited me, he said. everything from how it's talking to him, to how his friends think he's talking to himself to how he thinks he needs to die. i've heard this story thousands of time. it's no different than mine. so you don't think hallucinations are part of ptsd, i said? caleb switched the chew from one side of his mouth to the other. he looked at the waitress.
i know this is going to sound crazy to you, he said, but this isn't ptsd. so i was a little bit shocked by his story and wasn't expecting him to sort of have -- he didn't tell me that he believed that ptsd was, as he slowly reveals to me, caused by demons instead of anything going on in the brain or psychology. and so i followed him to a town called portal, georgia, and he was bringing -- starting a program where he was trying to bring veterans through a deliverance or exorcisms to try to get their demons out from the war. so i hung out there for a while, and it was really interesting to look at how it was really helping caleb and others and looking at sort of how similar the language was they were using for psychology and for religion. trauma can transfer, and they
talk about the demons transferring from one person to the other. and so in the book i end up, you know, sort of immersing in this group and trying to get as close as i can to caleb's psychology. you know, a lot of it, a lot of the book's free academic language, it sort of reads like a novel, it's very descriptive and a lot of dialogue between caleb and i where we talk about, you know, his belief system and how he's coming to terms with his past. and in the end, it's a belief system where he continues to fight, and it's not sort of, you know, a quick solution, just sort of makes sense, so he doesn't actually ever recover, he just continues to fight these apparitions every day. so i'll stop there. thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you. those are two tough acts to follow.
to any service members or veterans in the room, i want to say welcome home, and to any military family members in the room, i want to say thank you for your service. my name is kayla williams. i enlisted in the army back in 2000, and in that year it didn't seem terribly likely that i would go to war. i mean, i had read the fine print, i understood that armies went to war, but it just didn't seem likely that i would go to war. i joined for a lot of reasons, like most people. yes, i wanted to serve my country, but i was also looking for money to go on to graduate school, i wasn'ted the g.i. bill. i'd grown up were poor, so i felt the country had invested in me, and i wanted to repay that. so i was also looking to get out of the rut that i had carefully dug for myself. i wanted a challenge, and i was looking for a way to develop some emotional self-control. i thought maybe i could get that in basic training because i'd cried at work a few times, doesn't really help you with professional success.
i figured a drill sergeant screaming in my face would teach me. that worked, by the way. so i chose to become a linguist. i thought it was really cool that the military was willing to pay me to learn a foreign language, and it was random computer-generated number that a i ended up being assigned arabic as opposed to, say, korean or chinese. and -- chinese. and i was in monterey, california, on 9/11. it was immediately apparent that my military career was going to be very different than i might have otherwise imagined. it was no longer a question of whether or not i would go to war, just when and where. i was assigned to the 101st airborne division which is just up the road and took part of the initial invasion of iraq in 2003. this was in the era of you go to the war with the army you have, so as a woman who by regulation was barred from direct ground combat arms jobs or units, the expectation was that i would not necessarily need the same level of protection that some of my
infantry comrades might need, so i was not issued plates for my flak vest. but we also did not have nearly enough arabic language speakers, and so i ended up going out on combat foot patrols with infantry in baghdad with no plates in my flak vest which was, in retrospect, the most rewarding thing i did in my military career. i got to see how the infantry did their job. i was trained to do signals intelligence, you call up reports on the enemy communications that, hopefully, you've intercepted. and you may not get any feedback on whether or not it did any good, whether or not you made a difference. but going out and translating for infantrymen in baghdad, i knew right away that i was making a difference. i was able to translate between local people and my fellow soldiers, and i could see the immediate impact of me being good at my job or bad at my job as the case may be. and it was very rewarding. it was dangerous, and there were some traumatic experiences, but
it was something that i felt i could feel very proud of. we pushed farther north from baghdad up to mosul and beyond, you may have heard of that in the news lately. things haven't been going so well. and out to sinjar mountain where i lived among the yazidis and got to spend a lot of time with the locals in the middle of nowhere on the side of a mountain. i was one of about an eight-person listening post/observation post, and i was the only woman for months at a time. we later moved to another site on the same mountain where i was the only woman still with 20 or 30 men. at that point we had a lot more down time than during major combat operations, and tensions kind of rose on people at that point. the brigade i was with had come back from afghanistan not long before we turned around and went to iraq, so a lot of them had been -- this was their second
deployment for many of them or some even their third if they'd been to bosnia or kosovo before that. so for some of them it was starting to wear on them, maybe dealing with trauma from afghanistan that they had never processed, but we weren't yet talking about those things that early back in 2003. while i was out there i met another young soldier, tall, handsome, staff sergeant. he was funny and smart and witty, sarcastic. it was his third deployment, and he was angry in a lot of ways, but he was a soldier's soldier, a kind of soldier that finish the kind of nco that junior enlisted soldiers respected and officers mistrusted. and i was immediately drawn to him. but it was iraq. it's not like we could go out clubbing or anything. we couldn't go out to a nice dinner. at one point i confessed to him i really want to get to know you better someday. and he said, don't worry, there's plenty of time for that when we get home.
and a couple months later, the convoy he was on coming back from leave was hit by one of the first insurgent attacks. it took small arms fire and rpg fire and was hit by an ied or roadside bomb, and shrapnel from the roadside bomb entered the back of his skull and exited near his right eye. we were told not to expect him to live. he was medically evacuated by helicopter down to baghdad where he had neurosurgery, from there evacuated back to -- [inaudible] after about three days they cautiously upgraded the assessment and said he would probably survive, but not to expect much. he was then evacuated back to walter reed army medical center in the united states. my team got tossed around a lot and eventually i was moved off the mountain down to mosul which was great in some ways. we had flush toilets, pretty exciting after many, many months without running water. and access to the internet, and that was pretty great, being
able to actually use e-mail. at the same time, the insurgents were mortaring us all the time. up on the side of the mountain, the yazidis loved us and wanted us to stay forever. they built our fighting positions for us which felt bizarre and not quite right. while i was in mosul, i got an e-mail from brian saying, hey, i wanted you to know that i survived and looks like everything is okay. i didn't know anything about brain injuries. he sends me an e-mail saying he's going to be fine. so we struck up this very cautious flirtation, and he was released from walter reed and sent back to fort campbell around the same time that the rest of the division got back from the middle east. we started dating at that point. i got a block of, block leave, a whole month of vacation, and we just hung out all the time. if there were hints that he had psychological or cognitive problems, i was either too drunk to notice them or willfully ignored them.
and it wasn't until i went back to work that i started to notice that things were wrong. i had to start training to go back to war if we were to redeploy. i had to start doing pt again, and his unit did not make him start coming back to work. he still couldn't wear his head gear because the wound was too fresh, and the army's really big on people wearing their hats outside. he couldn't carry a weapon because he was developing ptsd. he couldn't do his job anymore, and his chain of command said you're bringing the new guys down. the guys who have just shown up from training, you're freaking them out about what might happen to them, so why don't you just stay home. so he just stayed home and self-medicated with jack daniel's which is not an effective treatment for ptsd, in case you were curious. i'm going to read a brief excerpt of what some of that time was like for us. you want to watch a movie, i asked? i brought over this french film.
brian shrugged. i guess. i don't really like foreign movies, they're boring. this one's different, i said. i'll make popcorn. 20 minutes into it, he turned off the television. what's the matter, i asked, disappointed. i can't, he said, then paused. sighed. started again. i can't follow what's going on. i can't read the subtitles and watch the action. it's frustrating. he downed his beer, opened another one immediately. and that book you lent me that you wanted me to read, i can't keep track of who the characters are. every time i put it down, the next time i open it up, i have to reread the previous chapter. it's driving me crazy. he got up and starts pacing the room, lit a cigarette. what the fuck am i supposed to do? i can't even read this book. i read "war and peace" before we deployed. because i got blown up i can't pay my bills, i can't do my job. i was going to make a career of the army, now what? i'm broke and i'm fucked up.
he opened the door and threw his empty beer bottle into the dumpster still in miss front yard. you're not broken, i was sure the cognitive deficits were temporary and would heal the way a broken bone would, knitting back together over time. we just had to be patient. he pushed me away. you don't understand. you'll never understand. i don't even know who i am anymore. i'm not what i used to be. my head, it doesn't work right anymore. i have a god damn brain injury, and i can't do anything anymore. he punched the wall. i have no fucking future, none. my heart ached for him. we can have a future together, i offered. get the fuck out, he said. what, i asked, astonished. i don't want to see you, i don't want to talk to you. brian was yelling. he took a deep draw from the bottle of whiskey. just leave me the fuck alone. shaken and confused, i left. as i drove home, my heart pounded and my mind raced. this is my fault, my fault.
i tried to get him to watch a stupid foreign movie. it's hard for lots of people to manage subtitles. i should have known. he has a brain injury. we'll be okay. i tried calling him. he wouldn't answer. tried again. he'd turned off his phone. i didn't hear from him for two days. then he called as if nothing had happened. you want to go get something to eat? i tried to be calm. what the fuck, man. look, sometimes i just get really angry. sometimes i need my space. well, can't you just tell me instead of screaming at me and then refusing to talk to me? maybe. next time i feel it coming on, i'll tell you code black, and you'll know to just give me some time. i could sometimes see it coming. usually it happened when he was drinking heavily. i started to get nervous every time he switched from beer to liquor. his expressive face would harden into an angry mask. invariably he said you don't understand, shutting me out.
sometimes i could still reach him, find a way to get past the wall and convince him to soften again. but more often than not once brian hit that point, there was no turning back. he would be oblivious to my pain, indifferent to my tears, lost in his own rage and suffering, headed for a code black meltdown followed by days of isolation. so in the first half of the book, i talk about this downward spiral that we went on where every bad thing fed on every other. so because of the ptsd he couldn't sleep, and i don't know about you, i but when i don't get any sleep, my brain doesn't work as well. so the lack of sleep hurt his cognitive function. the worsened cognitive function made him more depressed about the lack of future that he saw shrinking in front of him which made him drink more which made him angrier which made him lose his them her -- temper more, so it just got worse and worse and
worse until eventually we hit a real rock bottom. and then i detail our slow climb back upwards as we were able eventually and gradually to reverse that spiral and have good things build on good things. he started working again after he'd been finally medically retired, got some treatment, and we were able to very slowly form a community of our fellow veterannings and find some meaning in the suffering that we had experienced in trying to improve things for those continuing to come home after us. and very slowly and gradually we were able to find that there is a flip to post-traumatic stress disorder which is post-traumatic growth, that not despite, but because of our traumatic experiences we were able to feel a deeper level of connection to our fellow man, a deeper sense of responsibility to our country and to continue serving our
communities in new ways. and the message that i really hope to convey to people is that with the right services and supports that all of us as citizens have an obligation to provide for those who have been severely wounded physically or mentally by the wars, we have an obligation to provide those supports, to help them on that journey home. but it can be navigated for most people. there can be a new normal where you can continue to serve your community, you can continue to have fulfilling relationships and find that way home. and i also want to share with fellow caregivers a word i hadn't even heard of until i'd been one for several years, that it's okay to not be perfect. i had this feeling that even when brian was being a real asshole, that i wasn't allowed to be angry at him. he's a war hero. how can you be angry at a war
hero? and it took a long time for me to realize that it was okay for me to have a lot of complicated and sometimes ugly emotions about what was going on. what mattered was what i did. what mattered was my ability to stay with him and support him while caring for myself. because if i didn't take care of myself, i would have burned out and not be there to support him either. and i also want to commune candidate that there are resources that help both for service members, for veterans and for military family members. and for post people ptsd is a treatable condition. it isn't easy for people to find something that works for them. i know a lot of people who have said, oh, i went to a psychiatrist, and they gave me meds, and i didn't like the way they felt, so i never went back. if you bought toothpaste and hated the flavor, would you quit brushing your teeth forever or try a new flavor? if you have not clicked with a psychiatrist, try a psychologist. try equine therapy.
i'm not sure i would suggest exorcism, but keep searching until you find a treatment modality or a support system that helps you be able to live a functional and fulfilling life. thank you all very much for coming. [applause] are you our moderator? all right. we have a moderator. and i'll warn you all if you don't ask questions, i have back-up topics. >> hey, guys. hi. i'm zachary bell. i'm an outreach specialist here in town. amazing group of people. wow. it's just all different -- like, when i got all the books, everything was sent to me this past week. i started to go through it and try to learn more about all of this, and i myself as a marine corps veteran actively tried to, like, reassess and constantly
dig and try and make this puddle of the man that i am into an ocean. and i'm somewhere between a pond and a lake, i think, most days. so i was trying to reassess and find these things out, but all these perspectives and these different stories have just been amazing, so i just wanted to thank all of you for doing that. but, yeah. so i've got a few questions here, we're going to open it up as well, and there's also going to be a signing immediately following. but i was going to start here with kenneth. why did you want to do this? like, what made you, for instance, like me, i've been in the marines, i've been to afghanistan twice. i'm anxious to help veterans because, i mean, i fall into that category. what about you? >> well, thanks for those kind words and for that question. so i finished undergrad in spring of 2001 knowing that i wanted to go to grad school, knowing that i was -- knowing
that i was interested in social science and anthropology, knowing that i was really interested in these questions about war and violence. and then, you know, six months later 9/11 -- or five, four months later 9/11 happened, and the entire, the entire sort of public discourse, everything that everyone was talking about was trauma and devastation and war. and what both of those things should mean for all of us as a country. and there was, and there was so much sort of packed into a lot of what people were saying that there was -- but there was really not a lot of room to talk about what does it mean to actually go to war, what's the nature of doing this work, what are the effects that it has on the people, on the people who do it, on the people who live in the places where it's being done, what does can it -- what
are the, you know, what are the consequences down the road, what is the relationship of civilians, of citizens to military service and war? and i have my own strong feelings about this, but so much of what frustrated me was just the challenge of finding language to say something that wasn't already being said, that didn't already seem completely, completely obvious or just sort of fall to one side or another of really, really contentious and difficult public debates that were going on. and at the same time, i'd also been spending some time reading military memoir and biographies and journalistic accounts, and i started a couple years later i started to read some of the first, the first generation of memoirs that came from the wars in iraq and afghanistan including kayla's first book,