In a week when Alabama took the headlines, let’s go back with Truman Capote to his childhood in rural Alabama. Here, via This American Life, he reads his 1956 short story “A Christmas Memory.”
PS Truman Capote has always loomed in my imagination—a Southerner who left for the North. I did it, then came back. My parents did it, a long time ago, for a brief period, and I wonder what it must have been like for them.
Last year, my dad gave me his Kodak Carousels of slides from the 1950s. One slide, the most shadowy and inscrutable of all, is a photo of my mother with her parents, taken by my dad. That’s it, at the top of this post.
This is easily the most haunting picture I have of my mom.
Christmas at 168th Street, Manhattan. It was 1955.
My Alabama parents, newly wed, had come to New York City for my dad’s residency at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. She got a job at an antiques shop. Dad worked all the time. What must this have felt like for a 23-year-old recent graduate of Auburn University?
That Christmas, my mom’s parents came to New York to visit their only child. I really can’t imagine my Selma grandparents walking the streets of the city. How alien it must have seemed to them, how dissonant to their narrow views. Mind boggling, I guess.