Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Odd Egg Editor

Odd-Egg Editor
© 1990 Kathryn Tucker Windham
170 pages

Anyone who grew up in Selma, Alabama, prior to 2011 had heard of Kathryn Tucker Windham, and odds were they cherished her.  A master storyteller, she inspired an annual Tale-Tellin' Festival that survives today.  Odd-Egg Editor is a brief memoir of her newspaper days, before she became a local legend.  Beginning with the Montgomery Advertiser in the 1940s,  covering the police beat,  Tucker expanded her career to land a position in Birmingham and later settled in her hometown of Selma just as the civil rights movement was warming up in the 1960s.   This memoir has a lot of little stories, with colorful characters -- a playful judge who once busied himself creating spitballs during testimony,  an inveterate escapee named Billie Jean who counted herself a friend of the cops and her regular judge-- as well as a few sadder stories.  The title of the book comes from Tucker being assigned all the odd stories at the Montgomery Advertiser, and is itself a colorful collection. One could easily read it as two decades of journalism from  mid-20th century Alabama , but I was drawn to it for the author's voice. Although she was too advanced in age to do a lot of storytelling during my youth, I heard her a time or two at Cahaba Day festivals. Even in her last years she was a volunteer at the Selma-Dallas County Library,  firmly ensconced in the town she loved and which loved her back.  I enjoyed this account of her getting started -- of overcoming prejudice against her as a young woman invading male spaces like  the cop beat and the governor's hunting camp -- very well.

Kathryn Tucker Windham, from the second-floor balcony of the Selma-Dallas County Library



  1. This sounds like a gem of a memoir... I don't know if it's a West Coast problem or what, but sadly it seems like storytelling is a fading art form, especially live storytelling.

    1. That's sad to hear, but perhaps there are individuals like Windham working there as well. I'm friends with a man who is absolutely gifted at remembering and passing on stories -- he gets into it, with twinkles in his eyes and lots of expressive delivery -- and have learned to appreciate the skill enormously. I'll probably read more of Windham; I also have a cassette tape of her reading stories.


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