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Memoir Reviews     

Best Book by a Kentuckian in the annual "Best of Lexington" issue of ACE Weekly
 
Creeker
by Linda Scott DeRosier
University of Kentucky Press, 1999
Women in Southern Culture series
272 pages
ISBN: 081312123X, hardcover, $35.00
ISBN: 081319024X, paper, $17.00

Linda Preston Scott DeRosierís memoir is a captivating journey from the close-knit community of Two-Mile, Kentucky to the world traveling life of academia.  A pretty big leap for a girl who grew up in a hollow where the goal for women was to marry and have children as soon as their high school education was completed. 

Lindaís parents were unique in the community.  Her mother had flair, if not a touch for the dramatics.  Grayce Mollette taught in a one-room schoolhouse and saved her salary to buy a car, something uncommon in those days.  As custom, she gave up her teaching career once she married.  But unlike the custom after the first child to pull your hair up in a knot, go without make-up, and wear matronly dresses, Grayce Mollette Preston continued to wear her hair loose, red lipstick, and shorts.  

Her father worked for the coal company like most men of the community, but he rarely went into the mines.  He was the company carpenter and was usually above ground doing plumbing, electrical and carpentry repairs.  Considering that a minerís life was usually shortened by black lung, the Prestons were lucky. 

Family was only a stoneís throw away, and both sides of Lindaís lineage had colorful characters.  One that stands out is Grandma Emmy.  Grandpa Lige wasnít a prize with his drinking and womanizing, but Grandma Emmy raised her children and cared for her husband till his death.  She didnít do this out of submission but as seeing her responsibility through to the end.  Grandma Emmy was a very strong woman with many life lessons in catchy phrases worth noting.  

Linda Sue Preston was smart as a whip but was not necessarily education-goaled.  She was leaning toward the marriage after high school path, but ended up with a broken heart and starting college in Pikeville.  She credits the rigid formal structure of her Appalachian teachers with giving her the skills and discipline to achieve in the college classroom.  She met Brett Scott at college and was ready to end her education once they married, so she could finish putting him through school.  But her husband had other ideas Ė they both would go to school.  Even after he started work, Brett encouraged his bright wife to further her education, even if it meant they would be apart for a time. 

Brett Scott was a good husband, but did have a mistress Ė golf.  He even cut their honeymoon short so that he could participate in a golf tournament.  Linda found herself with other young mothers at the country club pool waiting for the husbands to come in from the 18th hole.  At this time, she became aware of wives working to remain beautiful while their husbands cheated with young golf groupies.  Linda had come a long way from the hollow where her family had the first flush toilet to being a golf widow at the country club.  The marriage ended as Brett and Linda moved further into separate worlds.  They remained good friends and share the joy of their son.   

Linda moved up the academia ladder, which provided her with growth experiences.  She shared an office with intellectuals in the 1960ís, which spurred her reading and developing a worldview.  Her background was tested by students at Kentucky State, where she was in the minority of white professors.  As director of the Institute for Appalachia Studies at East Tennessee State University, she was able to create programs to help her people and educate those outside the hollows about Appalachia.   

Humor runs throughout Creeker, but perhaps the funniest scenes happened at East Tennessee State University in the budding romance of Linda Preston Scott and the University President Arthur DeRosier.  Linda almost used some zinging phrases from Grandma Emmy to ward off the womanizing president.  But persistence pays off for DeRosier; and after a trip to Two-Mile for her fatherís approval, they married.   

Becoming a citizen of the world does have its drawbacks, especially when her parents became ill.  It was custom for the daughter to care for their parents by taking over the house and seeing to all the parentís needs.  Linda and her sister had moved away, so caretakers were hired and they traveled home as often as possible.  This period proved to be one of great personal reflection, offering life lessons as strong as those from Grandma Emmy. 

Creeker: A Womanís Journey is the inaugural volume of the Women in Southern Culture series.  In Creeker, examples of local color come through in the family anecdotes, customs of religion, and language.   Linda Scott DeRosier has taken the best of Appalachia and used it as the foundation of her lifeís journey.  Creeker is the story of many women within her family and how their inner strength and humor made hardships into joys. 

Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews

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