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When You Reach September: An Editor's West Florida Essays and Other Episodic Echoes
Author : Jesse Earle Bowden
Category : Other
ISBN : 0-942407-77-6
Price : $ 21.95
Pages : 272
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Evoking images of West Florida's Chipola River Country and other regions from Pensacola to Tallahassee, Jesse Earle Bowden's " Song of Many Septembers" in this expanded Florida Classic Edition continues the nostalgic anthem that began with his popular 1979 memoir, Always the Rivers Flow - now too in a Florida Classic Edition. He expanded the theme with his best-selling West Florida novel, Look and Tremble, and his later Southern story collection, Embrace an Autumnal Heart.

Lyrically portraying a Southern boyhood of the 1930's and 1940's, Bowden accents this edition with four fictional stories, " Ruby's Caféé," "Six Bushels of Corn," "Atchafalaya" and "The Worm Grunters." Memorable Pensacola News Journal columns and features trace the changing seasons, holidays, family gatherings, politics, vote-buying, country boy sports and humorous small-town stories. He profiles Southern novelists William Faulkner and Thomas Clayton Wolfe, legendary Florida Governor Fuller Warren and Southern humorist/philosopher Brother Dave Gardner; brings alive Civil War battles Shiloh and Gettysburg, Old South Charleston and Savannah, and wilderness Wakulla Springs, Dead Lakes and Okefenokee Swamp; salutes Don Sutton and his major league Hall of Fame destiny, and rides the Gulf Wind into railroading history. With many other sentimental journeys and many evocative drawings, Bowden again awakens the soul and spirit of the past colliding with the future in his native West Florida.
About the Author
Editor emeritus of the Pensacola News Journal, Jesse Earle Bowden was editor-in-chief and vice president of the newspaper for thirty-one years (1966-1997) in an active career spanning fifty years in Pensacola. Since 1983 he has been a faculty associate in the Department of Communications at the University of West Florida, teaching journalistic writing courses for twenty-two years.
Author of eleven books, Bowden wrote The Write Way, An Editor's Guidebook for Students of Writing, a textbook used by students in his University of West Florida classes. The Florida State University journalism graduate collected more than 1,200 of his editorial cartoons and illustrations in the book, Drawing from An Editor's Life, and co-edited The Emerald Coast Review, an anthology published by the West Florida Literary Federation, which installed him in its Hall of Honor. In 1985, University of West Florida awarded Bowden as honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.
A pioneer of Pensacola's historical preservation movement, Bowden has served as chairman of the Historic Pensacola Preservation Board since 1982, and became president of West Florida Preservation, Inc., when the state board's operations were transferred to the University of West Florida in 1991. The preservation program headquarters is named the J. Earle Bowden Building in downtown Pensacola.
Known as the "father" of Gulf Islands National Seashore for his long editorial campaign to establish the national seacoast park in Florida and Mississippi, Bowden was named an Honorary Park Ranger by the Secretary of Interior. Escambia County Commissioners named the seashore highway on Santa Rosa Island as "J. Earle Bowden Way."
Excerpt from Foreword:

Three brave women from different West Florida historical periods and two adventurous "worm grunters" are intriguing characters in Pensacola author Jesse Earle Bowden's four new fictional stories brightening his expanded book, When You Reach September, published in The Florida Classic Edition by Father & Son Publishing, Inc., Tallahassee. The stories, "Ruby's Café," "Six Bushels of Corn," "Atchafayala" and "The Worm Grunters" continue the Panhandle heritage theme of Bowden's three previous books, including his novel, Look and Tremble (Father & Son, 2000); a story collection, Embrace an Autumnal Heart (Father & Son, 2004), featuring five fictional stories; and Always the Rivers Flow, Florida Classic Edition (Father & Son, 2002). And the stories illustrated by the author add fifty-five four pages and a new foreword to the book of Bowden's Pensacola News Journal columns, features and nonfiction stories, originally a 1990 soft-cover publication subtitled, "An Editor's West Florida Essays and Other Episodic Echoes."
"We are pleased to select one of Earle Bowden's best-selling books expanded with four more of his intriguing stories," Lance Coalson, president of Father & Son, said. "Bowden has a giant talent for weaving unique West Florida stories; the veteran Pensacola newspaper editor has now completed four books centered on stories about the rural Panhandle in his time of the 1930s and '40s, especially his native region between the Apalachicola and Chipola rivers. Readers with be pleased with the originality of these four stories in addition to the variety of his writings which Bowden describes as ‘‘sort of a sequel' to Always the Rivers Flow."
Three strong women in different times confront tragic experiences in three stories. Bowden returns to fictional Ring Jaw for "Ruby's Café," another dark episode of illicit love, jealousy and ironic death played out by some characters first appearing in Look and Tremble. The drama in Ruby Barefoot's café is centered on a bizarre ice pick fight; other episodic echoes fueled the West Florida novel and Embrace an Autumnal Heart.
"Six Bushels of Corn" recreates a 1910 triple shotgun murder and the agonizing courtroom ordeal of a strong farm woman facing life in prison for murder ——then, haunted by the gallows in a second trial. It's a story of vengeance with horrific consequences for a determined widow's family.
And in "Atchafalaya" the author chronicles the story of Atchafalaya (Chaffa) Gregory and her first love, John Grace. Their tragedy centers on the storm-tossed heritage of the Jason Gregory House during the eighty-seven years the fabled antebellum plantation manor withstood floods, desecration and the agonies of Civil War at Ocheesee Bluff on the Apalachicola River.
Two Ring Jaw teenagers discover what they believe is a human skull that fuels a mystery of a headless body found in Bearthick Swamp in "The Worm Grunters." The story evolved out of Bowden's boyhood experience of harvesting fish bait as described in the essay "Grunting or Snoring."
On these pages are Southern scenes and people, adapted from Pensacola News Journal columns, profiles and features. These essays represent a "rehearsal, of sorts," Bowden says, for stories brought to fuller life in his novel Look and Tremble and story collection Embrace an Autumnal Heart: changing seasons, memorable Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays, family gatherings, politics, vote-buying on election day, gentle art of worm harvesting (grunting fish bait), practical craft of toymakers in a tiny town, country boy town-team baseball, and a gallery of unforgettable characters and other Small Stories from a Small Town.
There are essays on two Southern literary icons, novelists William Faulkner and Thomas Clayton Wolfe, drawn from memorable visits to Oxford, Mississippi, and Asheville, North Carolina; grace and charm of Old South Charleston and Savannah; natural, wild beauty of Wakulla Springs and Dead Lakes in West Florida and Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia; profiles of legendary governor and orator Fuller Warren, Southern humorist/philosopher Brother Dave Gardner, my Grandfather Columbus Bennett Bowden——literally at war with the Twentieth century——and the memorable self-taught naturalist, Hubert L. (Hub) Chason, "The Man from Chipola River." And tributes to cartoonist Milton Caniff, "Rembrandt of the Comics"; editorial writer and friend Paul Jasper and Pensacola's baseball icon from the Babe Ruth era, Russell (Rabbit) Scarritt, and Pensacola's Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton; the era-ending run of the L&N passenger train Gulf Wind and other railroading heritage; Pensacola and West Florida vignettes of history. And a Letter to a Granddaughter encouraged to, ". . .let the laughter of your successes rise above the whimpers of your failures."


Reviewer: Seldon A. Pierce (Cantonment, Florida) Jesse Earle Bowden is a southern writer in the style of Mississippian, William Faulkner, but without the need of holding a dictionary in one hand as you read. His imaginary town of Ring Jaw is typical the towns of southern Alabama and northwest Florida before air conditioning brought the outsiders down, ruining the tempo and flavor of the area. His mastery of the language of the thirties is on target, bringing to mind an era lost forever.
"When You Reach September" embodies the wonderful writings that Bowden has published over the past 60 years. He has mastered the short story and keeps the reader spellbound as he sketches the stories of the "real" south, using true-to-life happenings that he fictionalizes so perfectly.
When you read "Ruby's Cafe," "The Worm Grunters," or "Six Bushels of Corn" you are reliving the period that Bowden remembers so brilliantly and so clearly. You are there.
In "I Miss," the reader recalls the six ounce bottles of Coca Cola with slivers of ice and roasted peanuts (you can taste the beverage and smell the memories)you recall the movies of his era, the Big Little Books and "I love a Mystery," an old radio program that "Raiders of the Lost Ark" refers to in that great story. On and on - one story better than the preceding one.
I have read Jesse Earle Bowden since the 1950s when he began writing for the Pensacola News Journal, and I have seen his writings mature to the master craftsman he is today.
I highly recommend "When You Reach September." Reading it is time well spent.

Bowden has been a mainstay for history and historical preservation for years. His writing truly inspires people.

In addition to his literary legacy, Bowden’s left us with a legacy of Gulf Islands National Seashore and Pensacola’s historic buildings. He has an amazing ability to blend history with lyrical prose. I’ve never read anyone who can write a sentence better. It has such literary quality and yet is grounded in his love of the region.

Jacqueline Young, retired Pensacola educator.

Bowden has been a mainstay for history and historical preservation for years. His writing truly inspires people.
Sandra Johnson, Pensacola Historical Society

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